What’s cooking in Cuba?
Fricase de Pollo
Aimee lives in Zurich with her Swiss husband, but was born in South Florida. Her origins are in Cuba as her parents and three generations of her family are Cuban. Her family had to leave Cuba when Communism took over the island, and had taken the risk to leave everything they knew behind and build up a new life in the US. Her family has instilled the love of their heritage in Aimee, as she now does for her own daughter who already loves Cuban food and music. Aimee still remembers her trip to the island with her husband before they got married. She says: ‘I will never forget the tears streaming down my face as I saw my first palm trees from the plane and the unmistakable feeling of finally being home when the tires touched down on the runway.’ During that trip they visited her family in various parts of the country and experienced as much of her culture as possible. Every part of the trip from the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and most importantly Cuban people that welcomed her with open arms, brought every single story she heard growing up, to life in such an amazing way.
Aimee hopes to take her daughter to Cuba one day, but until she does, she keeps on transmitting her culture at home and often cooks Cuban dishes.
What Aimee says about Cuban cuisine:
Cuban cuisine is multifaceted and really interesting! Most people do not realize the influences in Cuban cuisine from Africa and Asia in addition to the influences from Portugal, Spain, France and Italy. As I travel more and more, I love to see the similarities in other cultures and remember conversations with locals so fondly as we compare recipes. The Fricase de Pollo recipe has been passed down for many generations in Aimee’s family. Many other cultures have a variation of this dish.
Fricase de Pollo
Cooking time: about 50 minutes
Ingredients for 4 persons:
- 2-3 table spoons of olive oil
- Sofrito (half a yellow onion, 2-3 garlic cloves, ¼ green or red pepper diced)
- ¼ cup of tomato sauce
- ½ teaspoon of Annatto powder (if you cannot find this Aimee says you can replace it with a bit of Saffron, not too much. I could not find Annatto, so I did use Saffron)
- ¼ cup of white cooking wine
- Bone-in chicken (any combination of bone-in chicken is possible: a whole chicken, separated, or, 10 or so drumsticks)
- 0,5 kg potatoes, halved
- ¼ cup Spanish olives (you can also buy the green stuffed Spanish olives)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Rice, for on the side
How to prepare:
- Heat olive oil in a medium pot.
- Add the Sofrito (the mixture of diced ingredients) and sauté until the onions are translucent.
- Add the tomato sauce, the Annatto (or Saffron).
- Add the white wine and cook until simmering.
- Add the chicken, potatoes, Spanish olives, salt and pepper and stir until all the ingredients are combined.
- Resist the urge to add more liquid! (this is important says Aimee). The chicken will release water as it cooks.
- Cover and cook on medium to medium-low for 15 minutes. Stir after 15 minutes and check for doneness. Cover and cook again for 15 minutes or so depending on how much you think you need for the chicken to be cooked through and the potatoes to be tender.
- Serve with rice (this is the traditional way of eating it in Cuba) but you could also serve it along a salad.
Thank you so much Aimee, for sharing your recipe, and for the beautiful story on your family history! At Let’s Explore we have eaten your Fricase de Pollo dish while listening to the beautiful sounds of Cuban music. We have also looked at pictures of Cuba and our children would like to visit the island too one day!