Asopao de Pollo
(Puerto Rican, Dominican chicken and rice stew)
This substantial chicken stew, also known as gumbo de pollo, is similar to Puerto Rico's famous arroz con pollo, only brothier and served in bowls. Asopao de pollo is a great choice for a comforting Sunday evening meal. Asopao is also enjoyed in the Dominican Republic.
4 to 6 servings
- Chicken, cut into pieces -- 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
- Red or white wine vinegar or lime juice -- 1/4 cup
- Salt and pepper -- to season
- Olive oil -- 2 to 3 tablespoons
- Onion, chopped -- 1
- Bell pepper, chopped -- 1
- Ham, cut into cubes (optional) -- 1 cup
- Garlic, minced -- 2 or 3 cloves
- Paprika or ground annatto -- 2 teaspoons
- Ground coriander -- 1 teaspoon
- Ground cumin -- 1 teaspoon
- Dried oregano -- 1 teaspoon
- Chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce -- 1 cup
- Cilantro, chopped -- 1 bunch
- Water or chicken stock -- 2 quarts
- Long-grain rice -- 1 cup
- Roasted red pepper, chopped -- 1 cup
- Pimento-stuffed green olives -- 1/2 cup
- Salt and pepper -- to taste
- In a large bowl, toss the chicken pieces with the vinegar or lime juice, salt and pepper and set aside for at least 30 minutes to marinate.
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high flame. Pat the chicken pieces dry, and then work in batches to brown the chicken pieces on all sides. Remove the chicken pieces to a plate and set aside.
- Next make your sofrito, a full-flavored base of vegetables. Add the onion, bell pepper and ham to the pot and saute until the onions are beginning to turn translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic, paprika or annatto, coriander, cumin and oregano and cook for about one minute more. Finally, stir in the tomatoes and half of the chopped cilantro. Simmer to reduce the tomato sauce down a bit, about 5 to 6 minutes.
- Pour the water or stock in with the sofrito and return the browned chicken pieces to the pot. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Stir in the rice, roasted red peppers and stuffed green olives, season to taste with salt and pepper and simmer for another 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and adjust seasoning to taste. Stir in the remaining 1/2 bunch of cilantro and serve immediately in bowls.
Asopao de Pollo Variations
- Sazón Seasoning: The paprika, coriander and cumin make up a quintessentially Puerto Rican spice mix called sazón. Most Puerto Ricans use premade sazón seasoning for cooking, particularly Goya brand. Here is a recipe for homemade sazón if you would like to keep a larger amount on hand.
- Vegetables: Add extra vegetables to your asopao to make an even more substantial meal. Trying using chopped carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, plantains or winter squash (calabaza). Or stir in a cup or two of pigeon peas (gandules) or green peas.
- A tablespoon or two of capers adds a nice punch of flavor and a touch of color.