What's cooking world? — By Guest Blogger on 19 May 2008
Pollo asado and yellow rice with vegetables

For this week’s What’s Cooking World? I am proud to introduce more Latin flavors. This time from Atlanta, Georgia Bren Herrera (are you sure we are not related?) fills our senses with a classic Cuban dish, pollo asado. This dish makes me wanna dance some Cuban salsa. Please make sure to visit Bren’s Culinary blog. Enjoy!

I’m sure you hear most cooks and chefs talk about how a certain food or dish was something they grew up eating as a child. How certain foods were staples–after all that’s what makes a culturedistinct, right?

Well I don’t have much a different genesis to share. Only mine is really special. Why? Because I (we–my siblings and I) ate darn good food everyday of the week! My mother never took a break from cooking and feeding us something delicious and filling. You might think of things like hot dogs, or the ultimate kitchen challenge: mac-n-cheese! Nope! Being Cuban and being a first generation immigrant, we practiced all those customary rituals my parents grew up with in Havana. This meant up at 6 to start cooking at 7 am. Black beans soak, herbs are pulled and cleaned from the garden and carne is seasoned.

So when it was time for dinner, we always had something to look forward to. It varied from day to day but rice was and is always the basis for our food. My mother never cut corners or shorted us. One of our typical dishes is pollo asado (roasted chicken) with yellow vegetable rice. It sounds easy but it does take some work. Shoot, it took me like5 attempts before I finally got it right and I’d dare say my mother would still criticize mine! I learned from her so I can’t be too off!

If I’m ever in the mood for something super savory and healthy, this is what I’ll make. Especially for my friends that love to eat. No one turns down good food, so next time you’re in the crunch and want to try a new chicken dish, try this–you’ll love it!

If you have any questions about this or any other Cuban dishes you’d like to try or learn about, send an email! I’ll be more than happy to help. And thanks to Ben for allowing me to share a bit of my food with you!

Peace,
Bren

POLLO ASADO
Ingredients:
  • 3 whole chicken breasts
  • 1/2 large sliced red or Spanish onion
  • 4 smashed garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup mojo criollo *
  • 1tbsp oregano
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 lemon wedge
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
Preparation:
In large pot, season chicken with garlic and onion, salt, oregano, cumin. Pinch chicken with fork to allow seasoning to sit well. Add 1/4 cup of mojo to chicken, stir and let marinate for one hour to 90 minutes.
In same pot, lightly fry chicken breast in vegetable oil until both sides have browned, for 6-7 minutes. Add remainder of mojo and squeeze lemon wedge. Bring heat down to medium-low, cover and let cook for another 30 minutes. If you find your chicken too dry, you can add 1/2 cup of dry white cooking wine. Steam from pot will create the excess mojo sauce.
Serves 3

VEGETABLE YELLOW RICE
Ingredients:
  • 2.5 cups white rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 lb. frozen mixed vegetables
  • * if you prefer fresh vegetables: 1 ear of corn for kernels, 1/4 cup peas, 8 oz. small carrots, 8 oz. small cut green beans
  • 1 packet of Sazon seasoning with achiote (this yellows the rice)(see note below)
  • 3 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 2.5 tbsp salt
Preparation:
In rice cooker, add rice and water to pot. Add sofrito, mixed vegetables (frozen or fresh), packet of Sazon seasoning, salt, and oil. Stir and click on cook! Should be done in about 20 minutes. When cooker chimes, let sit for 5 minutes. Fork and comb through rice, lifting the grain. Allow to sit for another 5 minutes. Yields enough for 7.

SOFRITO FOR YELLOW RICE
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 diced green pepper
  • 2 diced green onion stems
  • 1/2 diced large onion
  • 1 whole tomato
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
Preparation:
In light oil, sautee onion, garlic, green onion (scallion) green pepper and tomato on medium heat, allowing onions to cook down.

NOTE: Mojo is a liquid seasoning concoction made up of citrus fruits, dried seasoning like cumin, oregano, basil, etc… It is commonly used in Latin cooking to marinate chicken, pork and beef. The mojo I used was store bought. Goya makes a really good one, if you’re interested. Pick it up in your International section of your grocery store. I’ll make a batch from scratch next time and will post here to share. I can’t wait for that. And, for the fresh vegetables instead of frozen ones, steam together for about 8 minutes and then shock in cold water for about 20 seconds. They will finish cooking in rice cooker. Do not season the vegetables as the seasoning from the sofrito and achiote have done the work.
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is a project to learn more about foods and customs from all over the world. If you would like to participate in this fun and interesting project just leave a comment on this post and I will contact you as soon as I can.

(19) Readers Comments

  1. Mojo criollo sounds pretty interesting.

  2. This looks delicious and the background on the Cuban cooking was fascinating!

  3. Good job Bren!!! Cuba is one of my favourite destinations!!!

  4. Umm yes – I’ve always wanted to go to Cuba, as I find the food to die for. This is a great (and cheap) way to do both LOL! Nice one!

  5. Wonderful flavours and a great insight into everyday Cuban fare…now all I need is a cigar ad I’m set!

  6. This sounds fabulous! I don’t think I’ve really experienced Cuban fayre…. someday maybe.

  7. I’ve only tried Cuban food a few times and that has been in restaurants. I’ve enjoyed what I had, so should really delve into it. This dish sounds really delicious! The flavors between the chicken and the rice have my tastebuds working…

  8. Sound delectable. I will have to try it.

  9. hi..have you posted your recipe for mojo ???.there is nowhere in maine that i can find it. please, please yum and yum thanks, linda shannon

  10. Thanks everyone for commenting on the pollo asado recipe. It really is soo good. Please let me know if you make it!

    Bren

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