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. I love anything “asado”. I bet cardboard asado would be delicious. I’ve always found “asado” meats to have a simple but perfect spice blend. Good stuff Bren and Ben. Very odd how close your names are. And is Herrera a common last name? It’s my girlfriends last name too.

  2. i am always into rice of colors, and i am especially partial to yellow ones ^_^

  3. Great informative post and the chicken looks delicious!

  4. I was born and raised on a farm. The same thing happened as you. Up early and start dinner early. We always had fresh food on the table. Our food was french canadian. I learned a lot from my mom cooking with her at a early age.

  5. Yellow rice is nice and fragrant. I have eaten Indian yellow rice and look alike but may taste different

  6. Looks fantastic, especially rice. I love vegetable rice:-) Thanks for sharing.
    X M

  7. Ben, are you kidding me???You’ve never heard of chile colorado? It’s so common here along the border and in Juarez. Anyway, it’s delicious and I hope you try it. Maybe you know the dish by another name. BTY, who won the bake-off? I know I probably didn’t, but was wondering who did.

  8. This is awesome I made it with Chicken Thighs and I used this recipe for the Mojo:

    Mojo Ingredients
    1/4 cup lime juice, fresh squeezed
    1/2 cup orange juice, fresh squeezed
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    6 garlic cloves, pressed
    salt, to taste
    black pepper, fresh ground, to taste
    Directions
    1 Add all ingredients to a small jar, cover and shake for 2 minutes (I used a blender).
    2 Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

    I did not use the 3/4 cup olive oil for the Pollo Asado as the Mojo marinade had plenty of oil. I also added 1/4 cup of white wine (Chardonnay) to the Mojo

    I served it with rice and cuban style back beans from Trader Joes and squeezed fresh lime on top of it all.

  9. This is one of my favorite dishes! My mom does it the same exact way! Especially the “sofrito”! Great to have Cuban roots :)

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