Easy Dominican Braised Chicken
Change up your weekday meal rotation with this Flavor packed Easy Dominican Braised Chicken! Your taste buds will thank you;-)
I grew up eating this easy Dominican braised chicken, aka Pollo guisado a couple times a week. It’s a very popular dish in the Caribbean and Latin American countries. Pollo Guisado is basically a braise/stew made with bone in chicken and depending on the country, some of the ingredients vary. The gist is bone-in chicken, first browned then stewed in tomato sauce and spices. Definitely a staple in Dominican households and just like sofrito, every one has their own recipe.
Mise En Place
First things first, let’s get what we need in place before we make this easy Dominican braised chicken.
- Bowl with lid or ziplock bag for marinating
- Cutting board and chef knife
- Large pot with a lid
- Stirring spoon
- Chicken – Its more cost effective to buy a whole bird and cut it into 12 pieces yourself (cut each breast in 3). Butchering is not your thing? Cool beans, supermarkets and butcher shops sell cut up chickens.
- Sofrito – a multi purpose seasoning and marinade.. the building blocks of flavor. Get the recipe here.
- Limes– The limes provide flavor and help tenderize the chicken
- Kosher Salt – seasons the chicken and also helps to tenderize.
- Cumin – a spice made by grinding the aromatic seeds of a plant related to the parsley family. Cumin is pungent, earthy and warm with just a touch of citrus.
- Veg. Oil– Helps brown the chicken
- Sugar – lets you know the oil is ready for the chicken and it aids in giving the chicken a nice caramel color. The braise won’t be sweet, trust me.
- Tomato Sauce – base of the stew, also adds flavor and weight.
- Spanish olives – adds a different level of salinity to the dish
- Chicken bouillon cube – used to amp up the chicken flavor and season the stew as well
- Soy Sauce– adds another level of flavor.
- Stock or water – whenever presented with an opportunity to add flavor, always go for it, So pick stock over water any day.
- Onion – this is an optional but I love the crunch of slightly tender onion in my braise. It’s a texture thing fo me, plus it adds a subtle sweetness to the dish.
Let’s make Easy Dominican Braised Chicken!
The first step to all Dominican chicken dishes is “washing” the chicken in lime juice. This does two things, flavors and tenderizes the meat. I know there are a ton of websites that say do not wash your chicken. It’s certainly an optional step…we have been doing it this way since forever but Please be careful when handling poultry. Theres no need to slosh water everywhere…thoroughly clean and sanitize your area after dealing with raw poultry.
After the chicken has had its lime bath, season it with the sofrito, cumin, salt and lime. Let the chicken get happy and cozy in the marinade for at least four hours. Over night is best but no longer than 2 days. When you’re ready to cook, take the chicken out the fridge 30 minutes prior. Room temp food, cooks evenly;-)
Now you’re indeed ready… Add the oil then sugar to a pot over medium high heat. The sugar will not make the braise sweet, it lets you know when to add the chicken and helps with the browning. When the sugar is a dark brown, the oil is ready for the chicken. Watch the sugar brown, it happens quickly and it’s easy to burn. Add the chicken and do not stir it at first, wait 5 minutes. Continue to occasionally stir and brown the chicken until the liquid in the pot has evaporated. Now we add the rest of the ingredients minus the onion. The easy Dominican chicken cooks in the flavorful sauce and when its almost done add in the onion and only continue to cook till the onion is slightly tender. The onion adds crunch and much needed freshness to the braise. Serve along side white rice maybe a salad and If you happen to have leftovers, count yourself lucky.. this braise gets better the next day. Your work lunch will be anything but boring;-)
Not making it today, Prep it.
There are a few opportunities in this meal to prep and make our lives easier.
- Sofrito– Make a batch ahead of time. It stores well in the fridge for 3-4 weeks and the freezer for 6 months.
- Limes – Wash and dry as soon as you buy them. 3 parts water, 1 part distilled white vinegar
- Chicken – Cut it into 12 pieces. Wash, season/marinade and transfer to a ziplock bag. Label it (name and date) and Store in the fridge for no longer than 2 days or in the freezer 3 months.
- Tomato sauce – Open the can and transfer the contents to an 8 or 16 oz storage container with lid. Label it and store in the fridge for 1 week or the freezer for 2 months.
Easy Dominican Braised Chicken
- 1 whole 4-5 lb chicken, cut into 12 pieces, or store bought cut up chicken
- 1/4 cup sofrito
- 2 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 limes
- 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp white sugar
- 1 8oz can of tomato sauce
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 8 oz can of stock or water
- 1 chicken bouillon cube
- 1/4 cup Spanish Olives
- 1 large red or white onion, sliced
- Place the chicken in a bowl with just enough water to cover the chicken and the juice of 1 lime. Let it sit for 2 minutes. Drain the Chicken and place back in the bowl.
- Season the chicken with the sofrito, cumin, salt and the juice of the other lime. Marinate for at least 4 hours, but overnight is always best.
- When ready to cook, place your pot over medium high heat on the stove. Add the oil and sugar. Do not stir.
- When the sugar browns, add the chicken , don't stir . Let it brown for 5 minutes. Continue to occasionally stir the chicken as it browns, until the water has almost evaporated completly from the pot. This can take up to 30 minutes.
- Add the tomato sauce, soy sauce, olives, boullion cube, and water/stock to the chicken. Stir, lower the heat to medium and cover the pot.
- After 25 minutes, remove the lid and add the onions, put the lid back on and continue to cook until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes more
- Serve with rice and a side salad.
what is sofrito?