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Chef's Corner: Chicken Stew, Cuban Style

Here is a simple rendition of a wonderful Cuban dish. A delicious one pot meal that you will come back to over and over again. For ourselves, we halved the following recipe in order to serve two, using 1 chicken 'quarter' per person. Our version is slightly adapted from Saveur Soups and Stews (by the editors of Saveur Magazine)


Chicken Stew, Cuban Style

  • 1/2 cup sour orange juice OR 1/4 cup each orange juice and lime juice

  • 3 cloves garlic, lightly smashed

  • 1  3 1/2 to 4-1b. chicken, quartered (backbone discarded or saved for stock), or equivalent amount of chicken parts such as thighs or 'drumsticks' or 'quarters'.

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 large green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced

  • 1 large white onion, thinly sliced

  • 1 cup dry white wine

  • 1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" pieces

  • 1/2 cup jarred alcaparrado (an olive/red pepper/caper mix) or 1/3 cup pimiento-stuffed olives plus 2 TB capers

  • 1/4 cup raisins

  • 1 8-oz. can tomato sauce

  • 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted

For most recipes of this nature we prefer using only dark meat for its richer flavor and more forgiving nature regarding overcooking. If using a mixture of white and dark meat, we suggest using an instant read thermometer to check on the chicken breast, removing it when it reaches your desired temperature which will be before the dark meat is perfectly done.

Combine lime and orange juices, garlic, chicken, salt, and pepper. We like to use Ziploc bags for marinating. Put chicken and the marinade into a large bag. Almost seal it, then roll it up getting out as much air as possible making the most contact between chicken and marinade, then finish sealing. If you don't have the bags, put chicken and marinade in a large bowl. Mix well, then cover with plastic wrap. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 4 hours.

Heat oil in an 8-qt, saucepan or large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry using paper towels; reserve marinade. Working in batches, cook chicken, flipping once, until browned, 8-10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add bell pepper and onion to pan and cook until soft, 6-8 minutes. Add wine; deglaze, stirring and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan, and cook until reduced by half, 5-7 minutes.

Return chicken to pan and add reserved marinade, the potatoes, alcaparrado (or olives and capers), raisins, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until chicken and potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes.  If the chicken is done before the potatoes, remove from pan and set aside until the potatoes are done, then return the chicken to gently reheat.

Pay attention to how much the sauce is boiled down. If it is too thick, add a little water. The sauce is a really important part of the dish and you'll want more.

Stir in peas, spoon stew into bowls, and serve.

WINE SUGGESTION: We think a Rhone varietal, such as grenache or a GSM would be a good selection.

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