OK I fully admit that I took some creative license with this one, but to be fair Puerto Rico is a territory of the US. Besides, how could a musical theater nerd like me pass up the opportunity to make a West Side Story reference!? “Nobody knows in America, Puerto Rico’s in America…”
The largest population of Puerto Rican immigrants in the US proper reside in New York and New Jersey and they’ve definitely had a significant influence on the culture which piqued my interest in wanting to cook Puerto Rican food.
I’m one of the few people I know who grew up in this area that has never been to Puerto Rico and I really want that to change soon! (Girls trip anyone?). It is by all accounts a beautiful island with fantastic weather and of course great food. I’m not generally “sit on the beach and relax” kind of gal, but I’ve been told that one of the coolest things about PR is that there’s also a lot of history to explore in Old San Juan which is right up my alley. Also, Ricky Martin… adorable!
This recipe took quite a bit of research and leg work. I’ve eaten nothing but fish and vegetarian meals for the last two weeks (Meat Break!) so I knew I wanted a meat based recipe and with this freezing weather we’re having, I also wanted something warm and comforting. I settled on Pollo Guisado, Puerto Rican braised chicken stew.
There were a decent amount of recipes on the internet, but most of them called for various kinds of pre packaged seasoning mixes, like Goya Sazon, which are filled with chemicals and other artificial crap and that’s just not how I cook. So I did a lot of research to try and replicate those flavors with natural ingredients. I think I succeeded for the most part, though as you’ll see in the review, next time I’ll have to kick the spices up even more.
Speaking of artificial crap, if you haven’t been reading this blog from the beginning you should just assume that my food is made with mostly organic ingredients and hormone/antibiotic free meat. I’m just too lazy these days to write all that.
- 1.5-2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 medium onion; diced
- 1 cubanelle pepper; diced
- 6 cloves of garlic; crushed
- 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon powdered saffron (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup pimento stuffed green olives; roughly chopped
- 2 Tablespoons capers; roughly chopped
- 2 large carrots; peeled and diced
- 2-3 large potatoes; peeled and diced
- 32oz low sodium chicken broth
- 2 Tablespoons vinegar
- 1 bottle of beer (I used a Corona because I saw it used in one of the recipes I looked up)
- 1/2 cup fresh cilanto leaves; torn
Heat olive oil in a medium dutch oven and brown chicken on both sides, about 3 minutes a side. Remove chicken and set aside.
Add the onions and peppers and cook until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook 2-3 more minutes until fragrant.
Add the tomatoes, all of the spices and the olives and capers, stir. Then add the potatoes and carrots, vinegar, chicken and any accumulated juices. Cover with chicken broth making sure to submerge chicken.
Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer uncovered for one hour.
Add beer and cilantro and continue cooking uncovered for half hour.
Serve over white rice with extra cilantro on top if so desired
FINAL VERDICT: B+
I had a super hard time grading this recipe because any flaws have to do with my ratios and not the flavors in the dish itself. It smelled great and I loved the combination of all of the spices, but it needed more of those flavors. It’s wonderful comfort food, especially on a cold day and I would definitely make this dish again however I am definitely going to up some of the ingredients. If you make this at home my advice is to double all of the spices and garlic and also the olives and capers, which is likely what I’ll do next time. I think with those tweaks this would be a grade A recipe.