Fricasé de Pollo
No Cuban cook’s repertoire would be complete without Fricasé de Pollo. Brought to Cuba by early French and Spanish settlers, this dish is somewhere between a sauté and a stew. Note that the only liquid used is the wine and a bit of tomato sauce. These, combined with the natural juices from the meat, result in a light, and flavorful sauce.
“Sofrito” is often used in Cuban and Spanish cuisine. Often called “The Holy Trinity”, it begins with olive oil in a skillet, to which onions, peppers and garlic are added to create a highly aromatic and flavorful base for many kinds of dishes.
Don’t be tempted to use skinless, boneless chicken breasts for this recipe because it will lack the subtle flavors that make this dish a truly satisfying comfort food.
Havana Grill – Fricasé de Pollo
5 lbs. chicken cut up, or whole legs and thighs with skin
1 cup olive oil, divided
1 large green pepper, cut into slices
1 large red pepper, cut into slices
1 large onion, chopped
1 ½ tablespoons fresh garlic, mashed
1 ½ cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon capers
1 cup green olives
4 large red potatoes, quartered
½ cup canned, tomato sauce
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Rinse and dry the chicken pieces. Pour one half of the olive oil into a large skillet and sear the chicken until the skin is golden, but not dark.
Make the Sofrito by heating olive oil in large braising pot that will accommodate all the chicken. Pour the remaining olive oil and heat to just below the smoke point. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the chopped onions and cook until caramelized around the edges. Note: Avoid over-stirring the onions during this time. Then, add the peppers and cook for about three minutes, stirring several times. Add the garlic and seasonings and cook for about two minutes, being careful not to brown the garlic. Add seasonings and stir well.
Quickly add the chicken pieces including all the bits at the bottom of the skillet. Add the wine, capers, olives and tomato sauce. Stir to coat all the chicken with the sauce. Cover tightly and stew over medium heat for about 15 minutes or until chicken is almost cooked through. Add the potatoes and cook until the potatoes are fork tender but not soft, as they will continue to soften in the fricasé. Stir several times to coat the chicken and potatoes with the sauce.
Serve with plenty of steamy white rice.