Pollo guisado is a delicious chicken dish with meat that practically falls off the bone. Both children and adults love it, so it makes a great family meal. As an added bonus, it doesn't call for a lot of ingredients, so it's doable on a busy weeknight.
The chicken's tenderness is the result of a combination of two techniques: braising — lightly frying and then stewing low and slow in a closed container — and fricassee, which involves sautéing and braising cut-up meat then serving it in its own sauce. Don't be intimated if it sounds complicated. It's really not.
Pollo guisado is a very popular dish on the Spanish-speaking islands of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. There are many variations and derivations of this recipe, but this is how I enjoy making it.
- 2 1/2 pounds cut-up chicken with skin on (thighs, legs, breast and wings)
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon adobo seasoning
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (extra virgin)
- 1 packet sazón seasoning (or 1 tablespoon annatto/achiote oil)
- 1/2 cup sofrito
- 1/4 cup olives (pimento-stuffed Spanish Manzanilla, pitted)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 bay leaf
- Optional: 1 culantro or recao leaf
- Optional: 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 8 ounces tomato sauce (canned, seasoned with peppers and onions)
- 1 cup chicken broth (or water)
- Season the chicken pieces with the adobo seasoning.
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy skillet or a Dutch oven. Make sure you have a lid available to cover it tightly.
- Add the chicken pieces and brown them on each side, about 5 minutes per side.
- Add the sofrito, the sazón packet, Spanish olives, cumin, bay leaf, Italian seasoning, tomato sauce, chicken broth and potato cubes. Turn the chicken pieces to coat them with the sauce.
- Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the chicken stew for 35 minutes or until the chicken is done.
- Remove the bay leaf and the culantro leaf.
- Garnish the chicken pieces with fresh chopped cilantro or parsley and serve the sauce over your favorite rice recipe.
Tips and Variations
- The chicken is done when its internal temperature reaches 160 F or 71 C. Use a meat or other cooking thermometer to test it for optimal food safety.
- You can use canned and prepared ingredients in this recipe, but you'll get the best results if you make some of them yourself, such as the adobo seasoning, the sofrito, and the achiote oil.
- This sauce tastes great over rice and beans, white rice or yellow rice with corn.