Sunday, August 13, 2006

World Cuisine Recipes: Pollo Guisado and Freddie's Online Puerto Rican Cookbook: Arroz Coqui Coqui

Since it's super hot outside, and also super hot inside my apartment, I decided that I needed a vacation. Preferably a cruise to the Caribbean. But since I don't have any money, I decided to just cook a meal that made me feel like I was in the Caribbean. I decided to go with Puerto Rican cuisine since I haven't had much exposure to it.

After looking at a lot of recipes on the internet for various Puerto Rican specialties, I decided to avoid the traditional arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) and pork recipes. What I came up with was a chicken stew with green rice. The green rice really fascinates me. Its Spanish name is Arroz Coqui Coqui, and it appears it was named after a little green frog native to Puerto Rico called the Coqui. So cute! I didn't add as much cilantro as the recipe calls for since my dad tends to be a little suspicious of food that's a color other than what he expects, but I'm sure it's delicious either way.

The chicken dish requires a special ingredient called sofrito. Sofrito is a mixture of green pepper, onion, cilantro, garlic, and an herb called recao. I had quite a time trying to locate some recao since it's also called culantro, long coriander, ngo-gai, Mexican coriander, and saw tooth. In the end I finally found it at a Thai grocery (after the produce guys at Fiesta looked at me like I was crazy). I'm not sure if sofrito is available pre-made, but I made my own batch since it can easily be frozen.

From Freddie's Online Puerto Rican Cookbook

8 stems of cilantro
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped coarsely
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 small onion, chopped coarsely
6 leaves of recao, stems removed
1 tablespoon olive oil

Drop all ingredients but olive oil into a food processor and puree. While processing, add olive oil in a stream.

Pollo Guisado (Chicken Stew)
From World Cuisine Recipes

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts OR 2 breasts and 4 thighs
2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 medium potatoes, skinned and cubed
3 tablespoons sofrito
1 (14-ounce) can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
12 small pimento-stuffed green olives
2 bay leaves
1 ounce green pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cups water

Put the chicken in a pot with enough water to cover by at least ½ inch. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat to medium. Cook the chicken for 45 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and discard the water. Cool the chicken for 15 minutes, then cut it into ½-inch pieces. Set aside.

In the pot the chicken was boiled in, add the sofrito, remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, crushed tomatoes, olives, bay leaves, green pepper, olive oil, and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken to the tomato mixture. Continue to simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally.

Arroz Coqui Coqui (Coqui Coqui Rice)
From Freddie's Online Puerto Rican Cookbook

3 cups short or medium grain rice
1 stick butter
2 cans chicken broth
4 sticks celery, chopped finely
1½ cups cilantro, chopped finely
½ cup slivered almonds
1 cup water

Wash the rice to remove the excess starch and drain until dry. In a large pot over medium high heat, melt butter. Add rice and stir often until the rice starts to turn golden brown. Add the rest of the ingredients; turn the heat down to medium. Cook until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is soft, stirring occasionally.

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