Nothing A Little Chicken Soup Can’t Fix

I had the worst cold of my adult life last week.  All I could do was sleep and blow my nose. One of those days where you imagine getting hit by a truck would feel better than you do in your bed under the covers.  

When I was younger, if I even sneezed in my Abuela Yaya’s presence, I could expect a full pot of chicken soup almost immediately.  Food was a huge part of how she showed her love to all of us. She fed us. Her chicken soup was actually the last thing she made for me before she passed.  Even through her cancer treatment, she did what she could to comfort us. I remember showing up early, and she finally let me in on her favorite Tomato sauce that she swears was the secret to her soup.  You should know she was a dirty liar who won’t give you the entire recipe to anything. Maybe she just wanted us to keep coming back for the real thing. However, the next time I made the soup, shortly after she passed, I put in some of the sauce like she told me to and it was the best one I ever made.

It’s been almost 10 years since she left us.  This soup is my secret weapon to any and all colds and viruses.  I now make it any time someone in my house sneezes in my presence because, thanks to Yaya, I know how loved and taken care of it feels to get a warm pot of chicken soup when you aren’t feeling your best. I made it for myself last week once I got the feeling in my legs back.  

I now make it in my instant pot, because that machine is magic.  However I made it in a pot for so long, that I am also giving instructions for the good old fashion way.  Also, feel free to sub in whatever veggies you have, or like to use. I mix it up depending my mood, and what is available. This is just a guide you can add in or take away vegetables or seasoning depending on your taste. Hope you enjoy

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lb skinless boneless chicken breast or cutlets also work
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth
  • Tomato Sauce (I use Pomi Strained Tomatoes)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Bijol
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Dill
  • Noodles – I like thin noodles but it’s your preference

Veggies:

  • Potato
  • Malanga
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Tomato
  • Onion
  • Spinach
  • Plantain
  • Garlic

Directions

Instant Pot

Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Pour three cups of chicken broth and add your chicken to the pot.  Add all your cut up vegetables (except spinach if using) and spices (except dill).  Add more broth if you think it needs it but do not pass the Max line. Pour in ¼ cup of tomato puree, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  

Close the top.  Make sure the pressure release valve is in place on Seal.  Press the Soup/Broth Button. Let the magic happen.

Once the pot is done cooking the soup, release the pressure by switching the valve to release. BE CAREFUL DO NOT OPEN THE VALVE WHEN YOUR HAND IS OVER IT. Open the lid.  Throw in any egg noodles, the spinach if using and a little dill.  Mix it all in and cover for 5-8 minutes. Enjoy.

Stove Top

Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper. Pour 4 cups of broth into pot on medium high heat.  Add the chicken, and all your cut up vegetables (except spinach if using). Add in the spices to taste (except dill). Pour in ¼ cup of tomato puree, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  Mix it all together and bring to a boil. Let it boil strong for 2-3 minutes then cover and lower heat to medium-low. Let it cook mixing ever so often for 45 minutes to one hour. Add in the spinach (if using) noodles and the pinch of dill.  Mix in. Cover. Let stand for 5-8 minutes. Enjoy.

Thanksgiving: A How to

I know what you’re thinking.  Who the F is this girl to be dishing out any advice about how to host at all, let alone Thanksgiving.  You aren’t totally wrong.  I would think that too if I were you.  You probably have yet to become privy to the fact that I love Thanksgiving.  I love it so intensely and most definitely in a way that totally crossed weird years ago.

I love hosting it.  It’s one of the only aspects in my life that I want to exert complete control over.   The reason I give to people for hosting, I love bringing families together.   The real reason: no house that we visited ever had all the food that I wanted to eat on Thanksgiving.  I look forward to this food all year.  As my best friend Selena says, “The heart wants what it wants.”

Ok, it’s a combination of both of these things.  I love being around family, and I love good food.  Thanksgiving gives me both of these things.  We are all extremely blessed, and at minimum we should take a day to really express that to each other.

I was terrified the first time I was going to make a turkey.   Don’t let the turkey intimidate you.  They are just big chickens! Give them a little love and cook them the right amount of time and you will appear to be a master chef to your guests.  Also, the way the markets sell them now, all of the “giblets” and other things are super easy to take out and very obvious.  Trust me- you will be able to do it.

I’ve made many mistakes over my last 8 years of hosting my own Thanksgiving.  Picked up some lessons and think that at least one of you will find at least one thing useful here.  So here it is, my how to host Thanksgiving crash course.

The Turkey- Go Buy One!

Today is the Friday before our current Thanksgiving (2018).  Depending on the size of your turkey, you may need to go buy it.  In a really hard way- I learned turkeys need more than one day to thaw (correctly).   Most stores are selling you a frozen turkey, and you need to let it thaw out in your fridge (on a cookie sheet or pan to avoid juice spilling).  You need a full 24 hour of thaw time for each 4 lbs of turkey.   I typically do at least a pound a person minimum and always round up about 2-3 lbs- having leftovers is the priority people! If you didn’t make a full on Thanksgiving sandwich the next day- you failed the mission.

Now for all of you who like to live on the edge (or don’t have a ton of fridge space like most of us)- there is a way to thaw it quicker.  I’ve definitely done it this way multiple times, and always say a little prayer of thanks for sending us Martha Stewart.  Click HERE to have Martha’s people walk you through this.

My Favorite Turkey Recipe

It can come from the one and only, Ina Garten.  Not to change the subject, but do you think Ina and Martha are friends? I like to imagine them in Ina’s cottage having BLT sandwiches and Chardonnay swapping recipes…… ok sorry I’m back.

Click HERE for this recipe, it is AMAZING! It requires no extra prep time.  You can literally take your turkey out, clean it, remove all the stuff, pat dry and add these ingredients and the turkey comes out delicious.

People swear by brining the turkey, sounds cool and it really does help keep the turkey juicy- but it’s not necessary at all.  If you have time and like it- great, but don’t stress it.

When cooking the turkey, I like to  baste it every hour.  Set a timer on your phone or with Alexa.   But don’t baste it right before you take it out, you need to let the skin crisp a bit.

Most Important Tip: Let the turkey REST! I once saw Chef Michael Symon (yes, I’m Chef obsessed and I groupie out on them when I meet them).  Either way he gave an entire lecture on this, on The Chew (I’m rockstar cool)- let it rest covered under foil for at least 40 minutes before carving.

If you are Stuffing the Turkey Read This 

The first year- I mastered my turkey.  Now the second year I wanted to get fancy and make stuffing to put into my turkey.  How cool am I? (if you want to unfollow me now I understand).

Important tip- whatever stuffing you are going to put into your turkey.  Do not stuff the turkey with anything warm.  If you put hot/warm things into your turkey’s cavity it could make everyone sick.  Let it cool down, ideally make it the day before and have it completely cold before stuffing it.

Let’s Talk Sides

What constitutes a good side for Thanksgiving is very debatable.  I leave it to you to pick and choose what works for your family and friends.

This year I am hosing 10 adults and 5 kids going with my favorite Mac n Cheese Recipe,  Sweet Potato Casserole, Roasted Corn, Brussel Sprouts and Arroz y Frijoles (because my Abuelo demands it).

Table Top and Serveware

As much as I love cooking and getting all the food ready for Thanksgiving.  I always struggle a little on setting the table.  I’ve gotten much better, and I completely credit my sister-in-law as my guiding light.  She is constantly showing me how to adult.  While I do not come close to her flawless tabletop abilities, I have found a few tricks to make a nice table with minimal effort.

For starters the flowers.  A few different things you can do

  • Beautiful and Cheap: Grabbing a few beautiful flowers at the market and arranging them at home is always your cheapest bet, and will always add a little special touch.
  • Gorgeous and A little more $: I’m actually not the best flower sorter.  I mean, I can get the job done, but it’s aight.  For events like this I typically turn to House of Lilac.  She actually gives great Thanksgiving Decor Tips HERE. I will have a few of her bud vases or small arrangements delivered and put them on the table, and right off the bat my table looks much more polished.  She is also making some pretty outrageous Garlands for anyone wanting to really take it up a 1000 notches.

Let’s Talk Serveware

Having collected a few solid pieces of Serveware really makes everything look more put together.   I love to pick up pieces at either CB2 or Target both have a good range of items that compliment each other, and aren’t too expensive.

YOU MUST Delegate

You’re taking on a lot hosting Thanksgiving! The people coming know that and want to help you.  Let your people help you.  Let them bring an appetizer, a side, desert, and wine.

MOST IMPORTANT TIP: If you’re assigning wine- make sure you assign it to someone who understands the assignment and not the one who will bring the cheap gross shit that no one wants to drink.

Finally- ENJOY!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!! Hope your family only had a little drama- you know the kind to keep you entertained but not earth shattering.

Love,

Cristina

 

 

 

 

 

Mac n Cheese: Mad Love

At a very young age, I fell madly and deeply in love with Mac n Cheese.  I suppose I can thank Kraft for that, even though we now know that it was less Mac n Cheese and more pasta and yellow dye no 9. I digress.

This mad love affair has only grown stronger.  In fact, my husband knows if we go to a restaurant with Mac n Cheese on the menu- it will be ordered.  Whether it pairs well with our meal or not- ordered.  I simply must know what it tastes like in every single establishment I enter.  If you are wondering whether I have a running list of places with the best- the answer is obviously and perhaps I will share, one day.  If you are also wondering- yes I eat my children’s Mac n Cheese at restaurants- but so do you stop lying.

It goes without saying that I would have a recipe for it.  I have been perfecting it for years. I have tried different cheeses in the past, but found that keeping it simple goes a long way.

Hope you love it!

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 8 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk (eyeball it)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Pinch paprika
  • 3  cups grated Cheddar (1 big block plus one small  block at the store)
  • 2 cups grated Colby/Jack Cheddar  (1 big block at the store)
  • 1/2 cup fine bread crumbs (maybe more)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 2-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Drain well.
  3. Melt the remaining 7 tablespoons butter in a heavy 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let the flour brown. Using a whisk, add the milk in a steady stream and cook, whisking constantly, until thick and smooth, 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne, and most of the  cups of the cheese (reserve 1/2 cup to add to mix with breadcrumbs to top), and stir well. Add the noodles and stir well. Pour into the prepared dish.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese with the bread crumbs and Essence. Sprinkle evenly over the macaroni and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Ina’s Perfect Roasted Turkey

Thanksgiving, that magical time of year when your family gathers and the only thing you do is give thanks and eat good food.  I love it.  My favorite holiday hands down.  No fuss over presents.  No having to pretend to be some mythical creature that leaves candy or surprises for the kids.  Just family and food.

After having my first child, I decided I wanted to start hosting Thanksgiving at our house.  Whether it was just going to be us or our families would come over, I wanted to make this our holiday.  What? I really love turkey.  It’s not weird, you’re weird.

There is something about roasting a turkey that is very intimidating.  The idea of it used to overwhelm me.  Even now when Thanksgiving comes up in conversation (obviously when I bring it up), people seem to put off from hosting Thanksgiving because the idea of roasting the turkey seems to complicated.

I am here to tell you it can be done.  I turned to the person I knew could teach me the ins and outs of roasting the perfect turkey, Ina.   I followed her Perfect Roast Turkey Recipe and have been making her turkey every year ever since.  It is simple but tastes like you had been preparing it for weeks.    I am passing it on to you, treat your bird well.

Happy Basting!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 fresh turkey (10 to 12 pounds)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 whole lemon, halved
  • 1 Spanish onion, quartered
  • 1 head garlic, halved crosswise

How to

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the zest and juice of the lemon and 1 teaspoon of thyme leaves to the butter mixture. Set aside.
  3. Take the giblets out of the turkey and wash the turkey inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the turkey cavity. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, halved lemon, quartered onion, and the garlic. Brush the outside of the turkey with the butter mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey.
  4. Roast the turkey about 2 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Remove the turkey to a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil; let rest for 20 minutes.
  5. Slice the turkey and serve.

Banana Banana Bread

Ever have one of those moments where it is glaringly obvious that you are a mother.  One of those moments for me was the day I had the urge to make banana bread.

My kids go into phases with their food.  Some weeks they will eat a pack of 8 bananas in 2 days and other weeks 4 of the 8 bananas just sit there and I ended up throwing them away.   I don’t know when this started bothering me, but one day I just couldn’t toss them.  I googled a recipe for banana bread until I found one where I had most of the ingredients and it was just downhill from there.  I began hoping they would leave a couple bananas behind for me.  (WTF has become of me?!)

Anyway this recipe from Genius Kitchen has been a huge hit in my family.  It doesn’t need much and it’s absolutely delicious.  Enjoy!

 

What you’ll need:

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Lightly grease 9 x 5 loaf pan or a 8″ cake pan
  3. In large bowl, combine flour, soda and salt.
  4. In separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar.
  5. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended.
  6. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten.
  7. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 60-65 minutes if using a Loaf Pan and 40-45 minutes in a cake pan or until a toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean.
  9. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Cacio e Pepe Will be the Death of Me

I am a pasta loving girl.  It’s usually my go-to on date night or for any group meal.  They say money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy me pasta and that is pretty damn close.

Lately I’ve been noticing a bit of a trend at each of the Italian spots I’ve been hitting.  Cacio e Pepe is everywhere. At first I was trying to figure out what the big deal was. It is literally pasta, cheese and pepper.  However, I will use the cheesiest line I’ve ever written and say- Love at first bite.

There’s a little spot in Coconut Grove called Sappore di Mare and they actually finish preparing this dish in a bowl of Pecorino and add a little bit of truffle and I can swear I saw God the first time I bit into that.  Wooooo just thinking of that got me all hot and bothered. If you are in the area or planning on coming you should definitely check it out.   It is a hole in the wall- but absolute fire.

Imagine my surprise when a family friend mentioned to my husband and I how easy it was to make at home.  Yes it sounds easy considering there are basically 4 ingredients. But surely the technique or something fancy has to come into play to make something so delicious.  

However the gods have shined upon us- and it is actually attainable at home.  Your bigger problem will be trying not to make this every single day.

As promised here are the ingredients and directions.  However what will really help is watching famous Italian chef, Flavio Velavevodetto do it.  It is a quick video that will make all your pasta dreams come true. Check that out HERE.  

I found the base ingredients and video on Elizabeth Minchilli’s website where she has a pretty amazing spread of delicious recipes and cookbooks if you want to take a look around.

Remember once you master this you can make as much or as little as you want.  The process is always the same you can just adjust the amounts accordingly.

Buon appetito!  

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 6 oz. pasta (such as egg tagliolini, bucatini, or spaghetti)
  • 1 tbsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino

Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5-qt. pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup pasta cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking pour the freshly ground (or packaged) Pecorino into a bowl.  Add in most of the ground pepper (reserving a little to garnish at end). Then add a little cold water from the tap.  The trick is to add a little and stir, so you can make sure you achieve a paste consistency. Add a little more water as you go if needed.  Taste it, maybe add more cheese or pepper depending on how you want it to taste.

Once the pasta is done, reserve some of the cooking water.  In a bowl put some of the Pecorino and pepper paste add the pasta and begin to stir quickly.  Add some of the pasta water, continue to stir quickly. You want the sauce to coat the pasta. You can play with it adding a little more paste and water.  

Once finished sprinkle some cheese and pepper and you have yourself some next level Cacio e Pepe! Invite some friends, or just eat it all yourself like we do. 

Catch you next time!

Dad’s Cuban Fried Chicken

July 6 is my grandmother, Yaya’s birthday.  Since she passed 8 years ago, it has typically been a day my family and I still mourn.  However this year, turns out July 6 was National Fried Chicken Day, and we couldn’t help but laugh.  You see when Yaya was alive, my parents typically hosted a lunch for the entire family to celebrate both 4th of July and her birthday and they always made it Fried Chicken.  

It felt like this year, what would have been her 80th birthday, she was saying it’s ok to be happy.  So we decided to do a lunch and honor our favorite lady. My dad’s fried chicken is not the traditional.  He has put in a little Cuban kick that adds a big punch.

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 3 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 3 teaspoons pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 bottle of Mojo
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 broiler/fryer chickens (3-1/2 to 4 pounds each), cut up*
  • Peanut Oil for deep-fat frying

*or you can get a pack of drumsticks, wings, or just bone in chicken breasts- whatever your preference

  1. 12- 24 hours before you plan on making the chicken gently season it with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder.  Place it all in big zip lock bags and cover it in Mojo marinade.
  2. Begin heating oil until it gets to 375 degrees
  3. In another large zip lock bag place the flour, remaining salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder and paprika.
  4. Remove the chicken from marinade and place flour mixture.  Dust it off and begin to fry for about 5-6 minutes on each side or until golden brown and juices run clear. Drain on paper towels.

 

Yes Way, Frosé! (Frozen Rosé)

Nothing quite screams summer like hanging by the pool or the ocean with a cocktail.  Lately, I am loving rosé.  It’s light and doesn’t make me feel bloated, and it keeps me sober enough to still function in my motherly duties.

However being that we live in Miami- some summer days are too hot for just regular rosé.  It calls for something more- and that brings us to Frosé.  I have had it before at a few hotels, but recently saw Jennifer Garner post a simple recipe on Instagram.  Here’s what I got:

    • 1 bottle rosé chilled- give it some time in the freezer if you can
    • 2 cups chopped strawberries
    • 1/4 cup vodka
    • 1/4 cup lemon jice
    • Ice
Put half of the ingredients into the blender, and add about 2 cups of ice.  Blend until slushy, adding ice until you find the right consistency.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Jen Garner says she got this via Delish.  I made it this past weekend and thought it was delicious, but I would go lighter on the lemon juice.  Also try to find a rosé with a darker color, so it still looks pink after blending.
Enjoy!

Cauliflower Fried Rice – By Sally Schimko {@mysexyveggies}

A couple years back, I was at the park with a couple of my favorite mom friends complaining (no surprise) that I needed to switch up my workout routine a bit because I was bored.  Two of these lovely ladies had been going to Barry’s Bootcamp here on Miami Beach for the last couple of weeks, and were convinced I had to come with them.  I gave every excuse I could come up with and the rebuffed each attempt:

Me: “I am not in good enough shape to do weights.”

Them: “You can go at your own pace and do lighter weights.”

Me: “I have to run on a treadmill, fast? What if I fall?”

Them: “You can go at your own pace, and we have never seen anyone fall.”

Me: “I have had three kids, what if I have to pee?”

Them: “You can just go to the bathroom, but I have peed a little in my pants during leg day or a sprint on the treadmill.”

When my amazingly beautiful friend admitted to me that she has peed herself a little on a treadmill at Barry’s, just to get me to come, I knew I had to at least try it.  Well I came to my first Barry’s class and I didn’t fall off the treadmill, did my lighter weights, can proudly say I did not pee myself, and I absolutely loved it.  I loved that you can do the workout at your own pace and work your way up to the people around you doing more advanced instruction.  It kicked my butt and gave me something to aspire to.

Enter Sally Schimko.  I ran into Sally when I had first started working out at Barry’s.  She was in incredible shape, that kind of shape that you think to yourself there is no way she’s had kids yet, but then you find out she has two and you’re like “Sigh.”  Sally was there each day with a smile, and always cheering everyone on.  So when she started her healthy lifestyle blog featuring all of her delicious veggie focused recipes, I knew she would be the perfect contributor for the Health and Fitness section.  For her this is a lifestyle, and I love learning from people who do what they love.  You can learn more about Sally, and see more of her recipes on her Instagram account @mysexyveggies 

For our first recipe we decided to do Fried Cauliflower Rice as a perfect meal, or side to your favorite protein at lunch or dinner.  Enjoy!

Also if you live in Miami Beach area and want a cooking class with Sally for yourself or a group of friends (which I highly recommend SO FUN!) you can email me cristina@survivingcristina.com or email her directly sallyterezi@me.com to arrange your day.  You can customize the menu, bring some wine, and get Sally’s personal tips for living a more healthy lifestyle.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups cauliflower rice ( I use frozen)
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 1/3 cup edamame
  • 1 small onion sliced thinly
  • 1 medium carrot ( shaved)
  • 2 cups mix mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup liquid aminos
  • 3 Tbs orange marmalade
  • 2 Tbs pb2 ( peanut butter powder or just use your nut butter )
  • 1/2 cup mix chopped green herbs ( dill , cilantro, parsley)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Spicy chili flax ( optional)

Instructions:

1. In a medium high skillet sauté vegetables Starting with the onion and mushrooms until they are golden brown and add all the rest (reserve some carrots, dill, parsley and cilantro to garnish)

2. Sprinkle spices , mix and cover

3. When all the vegetables turned golden brown, simmer down

4. Add liquid amino and orange marmalade and mix well cover for 2-5 minuets and it’s ready to serve

5. Top it up with hempseed and pine nuts.

Arroz Con Pollo! Arroz Con Pollo!

I’ve mentioned my grandmother, Yaya, had 9 kids, but did I mention she had 30 grand children.  This lady would cook for the entire family every Sunday almost without fail. Everything she made was incredible, however she did have her occasional critics.  While I love my family, we are a bunch of sarcastic hooligans, and this worsens with hunger. Hanger and sarcasm are hereditary, trust me.

A typical Sunday in a house filled with 50 hungry Cubans looked exactly as you would imagine.  You walked into the house and were greeted with the wave of loud conversation and laughter, plus the smell of whatever she had cooked that day and the lingering smell of whatever delicious dinner she made for my grandfather, Abuelo, the night before.  

There were people everywhere.  Some were already eating at the dining table, some had set up shop in front of the TV (definitely if it was football season), some at the bar in the kitchen, and everyone gossiping.  As you pile in you had to find Abuela and give her a huge hug (mandatory) and then find our plates and serve our food on a first come first serve basis. She always had more than enough, but liked us to have that fear of not getting food if we didn’t show up early.  

If you were a betting man, you would definitely guess that Yaya was likely going to make Arroz Con Pollo for lunch on Sunday.  I didn’t appreciate it back then as much as I do now. I took it for granted and always complained asking why she didn’t make Vaca Frita or Garbanzos.  In hindsight, I would give anything to have a plate of her Arroz Con Pollo just one more time. It’s the dish I miss the most, by far.

As a mom of three now, I totally see why she made this so often.  Besides being delicious and universally liked, it’s a one pot dish.  What mom doesn’t love hearing one pot! She was cooking for an army, so she had this cartoonishly big cast iron pot that would somehow feed us all. But for the sake of this recipe you can use a regular sized one.  

There aren’t any millennial modifications here.  Not just because this recipe makes me nostalgic, but it’s more about comfort than calories here.  

This recipe makes for 8 (probably a little more because Cubans always go overboard)

  • 1 tablespoon salt divided
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ cup Mojo Sauce
  • 6 chicken thighs bone in, skin still on
  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cups valencia rice
  • 1 teaspoon Bijol
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 4 cups low-salt chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 beer (any works lately I use Modelo because it’s what I have)
  • ½ cup of dry white wine

Directions

Combine half the salt, half garlic powder, black pepper in a plastic gallon bag along with the ½ cup of Mojo. Shake until the mixture is well combined.

Pat the chicken dry and place in the bag with the spice mixture. Shake the bag, making sure the chicken is well coated.

Heat the oil in a 12-inch high-sided skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the chicken and brown on all sides, about 6 minutes each side. Transfer the chicken to a plate, using tongs. Use wine to break up the brown bits from the bottom.

Add the onions, green peppers, red peppers and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the skillet. Cook the vegetables over moderate heat, stirring, until softened and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and garlic and mix together.  Add the chicken back in and bring the heat down to a simmer covered for about 15-20 minutes until cooked through.

Meanwhile rinse the rice in a strainer or bowl and add the bijol to get the right yellow color mix with your hands or a spoon.   Remove the chicken from the pot to shred it (optional you can leave it whole and leave it in the pot) Add the rice and cook until the rice begins to turn in color and fragrant, about 1 minute.

Meanwhile, bring the heat back to medium high.  Start adding the liquids. I do the beer first so that we can be sure it cooks out.  Then add the 4 cups of stock making sure the rice and chicken are covered. Bring the rice to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. If you shredded the chicken cook until the rice is tender.  I like it a little soupy, but this is your preference to keep it covered until the rice absorbs more of the liquid. It takes anywhere from 20 to about 35 minutes. Let the skillet stand covered, about 10 minutes before serving.

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