Wow. Has it really almost been a year since I went on sabbatical down to Puerto Rico? And is this really the first glimpse of comida criolla that I’ve given you? Crazy, right? Better late than never! This is my version of the classic Puerto Rican dish pollo guisado. Pollo guisado literally translates as chicken stew, which is exactly what this is! Chicken thighs and potatoes braised with fire-roasted tomatoes, olives and caper. So simple. So delicious! And, what’s more, that even though it’s rich (note the bacon fat – YUM) and is made with chicken thighs it still only rings in at 371 calories per serving….if you can resist eating only one serving. Buen Provecho!
1 tbsp bacon fat
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 medium yellow onions, peeled & sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, stem & seeds removed & julienned
1 (14.5oz) can fire roasted tomatoes with garlic
2 cups water, plus extra as needed
15 green olives stuffed with pimentos, roughly chopped
2 tbsp capers
4 medium red potatoes, cut in 1" cubes
1/4 cup (packed) + 2 tbsp cilantro or culantro, chopped
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat large (at least 4 quart) saute pan over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Once hot add bacon fat and heat for another minute. While pan is heating, season all sides of chicken liberally with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Add chicken to preheated pan, saute chicken until browned, about three minutes. Flip and continue cooking for another three minutes or until chicken is browned. Remove from pan.
Reduce heat to med-low. Drain off all but 1 tbsp of fat from the pan. Add onions and red pepper to the pan. Saute over med-low heat until onions are translucent and peppers are tender, about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add canned tomatoes to pan. Stir, scraping the bottom to release any fond (brown bits). Add water and bring to a boil. Once boiling add browned chicken, olives, capers, red potatoes & 1/4 cup of cilantro. Season with freshly cracked black pepper. Stir to incorporate. Let liquid return to a boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer over low heat for 75-90 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is fork tender and potatoes are beginning to fall apart. If the liquid appears to be cooking out of the pan too quickly simply add another 1/4 cup as necessary. The end product should be a thick rich tomato stew with a small amount of liquid. Taste. Adjust seasonings as desired with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. (It is important not to add salt to this dish until the very end. The seasoning on the chicken as well as the salt from the capers and olives will likely be enough for the dish.)
Although delicious if eaten immediately, as with all braised dishes, this meal will taste best 24-48 hours after being prepared so the flavors have a chance to marry. Store refrigerated then reheat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until an internal temperature of 140 degrees is reached. Just before serving stir in 2 tbsp chopped cilantro.
Makes 4 servings
371 calories per serving
1484 calories in the entire dish