Inspired by Best Picture Nominee for an Academy Award, Moonlight, these Arroz con Pollo rice balls with a spicy cilantro dipping sauce are sure to spice up your Oscars’ party menu!
When Haley at CheapRecipeBlog asked me to participate in her Oscar party recipe roundup this year, I excitedly jumped at the chance to get creative in the kitchen. We LOVE movies in this house and look forward to watching the Oscars each year to see if our favorites take home the golden statue, BUT I have to be totally honest and admit that we’ve not seen too many movies in the theater lately. With a newborn at home, our life has of course changed and it’s not quite as easy to just hop on over to the theater for an evening show. However, I am sure we will catch all of the Academy Award nominated films as soon as they hit Redbox.
So when tasked with creating a recipe inspired Moonlight, a movie I have yet to see myself, I had to do a little reconnaissance. Moonlight is based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney, a coming-of-age tale that takes a hard look at the American reality, particularly in the African American community. It’s a very personal film about self-discovery, finding your place and accepting who you are as an individual, particularly as a gay person according to critics. It may not sound like a film revolving around food, however, I noticed a common theme during critical scenes in reviews of the movie – they all seemed to revolved around a dinner table. Well, there is a diner scene that is the emotional climax for two characters in which Kevin makes the chef’s special for Chiron – arroz con pollo – and he lovingly sprinkles fresh cilantro over the top.
So I thought what better way to celebrate this movie at an Oscars party than with arroz con pollo turned into an appetizer. These crispy fried rice balls are stuffed with saffron rice, roasted chicken, onion, cumin, spanish olives stuffed with pimentos, and roasted red peppers. They get served up with a spicy, creamy cilantro dipping sauce that would be delicious on just about anything including shoe leather. Get the full recipe at the bottom of this post.
What else do you to throw a great Oscars party? For starters, check out these other Best Picture inspired recipes from the other bloggers.
- Arrival: Chocolate Dipped Fruit “Spaceship” Appetizers from Greta of Pickles Travels
- Fences: Spicy Buttermilk Chicken and Waffle Bites from Haley of Cheap Recipe Blog
- Hacksaw Ridge: Flourless Muffin Cup Potato Latkes from Lauren of Oatmeal With a Fork
- Hell or High Water: Texas Glazed Pecans from Sharon of The Honour System
- Hidden Figures: Galaxy Whoopie Pies from Jessica of Femme Fraiche
- La La Land: Espresso Star Cookies from Suzanne of Flour Arrangements
- Lion: Chicken Pakoras with Creamy Coconut Dip from Joyce of Pups With Chopsticks
- Manchester By The Sea: New England Clam Chowder from Alice of Dining With Alice
- Oscars Signature Cocktail: Pomegranate Ginger Red Carpet Cocktail from Grace and Maddie of Double Thyme
Next, check out a past post I’ve written on throwing a great Oscars party. How about a few ideas for this year?
- Have Oscar Nominee Ballots ready for guests and make a fun game out of guessing the winners in each category. Here are a few free printable versions for 2017 from around the web:
- Decorate with gold everything: balloons, star shaped gold confetti, gold paper plates and cups, gold plastic ware, gold straws.
- Serve champagne or sparkling wine so you can feel like the celebrities at the event.
- Black tie. Ask your guests to dress in their best formal attire for your party to make it a fancy affair.
As promised here is the Moonlight inspired recipe for these delicious Arroz con Pollo rice balls and the spicy cilantro dip.
- 2 1/2 cups cooked yellow saffron rice, cooled
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 3/4 cup store bought Roasted Chicken, shredded
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 cup chopped pimento stuffed spanish olives, diced
- 1/4 cup roasted red pepper, diced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 egg, plus 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsps of water
- 2 cups canola oil (or use your favorite frying oil)
- 4 jalapenos, halved
- 2 cups loosely packed cilantro, stems removed
- 1 avocado
- 2 cloves garlic
- Juice of 1 lime
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider
Cook your rice according to package directions and allow to cool. (I used a package of Mahatma Yellow Saffron Rice).
In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium. Saute onion until soft, 2-3 minutes. Toss in chicken and cumin to combine flavors.
In a medium bowl, combine rice, chicken and onion mixture, olives, roasted red pepper, salt, pepper, cilantro, 1 egg, and 3/4 cup breadcrumbs. Mush the mixture with your hands until it is combined and sticky enough to form balls (if it isn’t coming together add 1-2 tbsps of water to the mixture). Form mixture into equally sized balls using a 1/4 cup measuring cup. Roll each of the balls into the remaining egg/water mixture and then in the remaining breadcrumbs. Refrigerate balls for 10 minutes.
In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour in enough oil to fill the pan about 1/3 of the way. Heat over medium heat until it reaches 350 degrees. Fry the rice balls in batches (4 at a time), turning occasionally, until golden, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Combine all ingredients except for olive oil in food processor or blender. *Optional: de-seed the jalapenos depending on heat preference. I de-seeded 3 of the 4 and the flavor was fairly mild.
With blender on, drizzle in the olive oil. Pour into airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Pile rice balls on plate and serve with dipping sauce on the side.
Tip: these can be made ahead and reheated in a 400 degree oven on a sheet pan for 10-15 minutes.