Asopao de Pollo (Puerto Rican Chicken Stew)

What is Asopao de Pollo?

Our sofrito, rice, annatto and/or tomato paste, and bite-sized chunks of chicken are the components that make up the Caribbean meal known as asopao de pollo. A dish like this is the epitome of comfort food; it is the kind of dish that you serve on a gloomy day or after a cyclone has passed. The preparation of this dish is one of those that people dispute about who has the greatest version, despite the fact that it can be considered an easy preparation. Since my mother’s has a few peculiarities due to the fact that it has a Dominican influence as opposed to a Puerto Rican impact, it might be a little bit unclear to me.

What Makes This Asopao de Pollo Unique

The sofrito base of my asopao is completely different from the majority of the other variants that are often used. Every household has its own method of cooking food, and mine is influenced by the Dominican background that I can trace back to. My time spent working in kitchens in New York City, where I gained a great deal of knowledge about local and foreign foods, has had an impact on the other components of my recipe, such as the saffron and the harissa.

An excellent alternative to tomato paste, harissa is a delectable touch that can be used in place of tomato paste. Adding this to the dish gives it a sense of depth. According to my recommendation, harissa is on the milder end of the range. If you can believe it, the majority of boricuas do not enjoy eating spicy food. The preserved lemon harissa made by NY Shuk has recently become one of my favorite condiments.

Asopao de Pollo (Puerto Rican Chicken Stew)

INGREDIENTS

For the Chicken Stock:

  • 2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 medium lemon, halved
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seed
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 4 tarragon or parsley stems
  • 5 leaves culantro (recao) or stems from 1 bunch cilantro
  • 12 cups chicken broth

For the Sofrito:

  • 6 leaves culantro (recao) or the stems from 1 medium bunch fresh cilantro
  • 5 seeded ají dulce peppers, or mini sweet peppers
  • 1/2 medium seeded Cubanelle pepper
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 medium celery stalk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

For the Asopao:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon mild harissa paste
  • 5 saffron threads
  • 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt, more as needed
  • 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1 medium green plantain
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup raw long grain white rice
  • 2 medium scallions, thinly sliced

To Garnish:

  • 1 large avocado, thinly sliced
  • Lime wedges
  • Tarragon and/or cilantro leaves, optional
  • Olive oil, for drizzling

Asopao de Pollo (Puerto Rican Chicken Stew)

MAKING PROCESS

Make the Chicken Stock

1. Gather the ingredients.

2. After removing the bones from the chicken thighs, place them in a big Dutch oven or another type of pot that is particularly heavy-duty. If the chicken thighs contain        skin, this should be removed and thrown away, or the skin can be saved for further use.

3. Pieces of chicken thighs should be cut into bite-sized pieces. Put aside for later.

4. The chicken bones should be placed in a pot together with the onion, lemon, garlic, coriander, bay leaves, tarragon or parsley stems, culantro, and chicken broth. Stir          over high heat until it reaches a boil. Simmer for forty-five minutes after lowering the heat to a low setting.

5. A strainer with a fine mesh should be used to strain the stock, and the contents of the strainer should be discarded. Save the stock for later use.

Make the Sofrito

1. Gather the ingredients.

2. To a blender or food processor, incorporate the culantro (or cilantro stems), ají dulce peppers, Cubanelle pepper, garlic, celery, oil, and oregano. These ingredients              should be combined.

3. Pulse the ingredients, and then process them on high until they are completely pureed. Put aside for later.

Asopao de Pollo (Puerto Rican Chicken Stew)

Make the Asopao

1. Gather the ingredients.

2. The coconut oil should be added to a large Dutch oven or another heavy-duty pot and heated over medium power. Add the garlic, harissa, saffron, salt, and sofrito to the oil after it has reached the desired temperature. Over the course of approximately two minutes, sauté the mixture while stirring it continually until it begins to get fragrant and soften.

3. Cook the chicken meat that was set aside for later, stirring it occasionally, for approximately five minutes, until it begins to softly caramelize.

4. The coconut milk should be added, and any browned parts that are on the bottom of the pot should be scraped up.

5. After adding the chicken stock that was set aside, bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. While you are preparing the plantain dumplings (bolitas), reduce the heat to a low setting and continue to boil the mixture with the lid on.

6. The peel of the plantain should be removed and discarded first. Cut the plantain into three to four large chunks that are cut crosswise. Place in a food processor along with a half teaspoon of salt, minced garlic, and freshly ground black pepper.

7. First, pulse the plantain mixture, and then process it until a smooth paste is formed, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl after each processing step. There is also the option of grating the plantains using a microplane or the small holes of a box grater.

Asopao de Pollo (Puerto Rican Chicken Stew)

8. Utilizing wet hands, shape dumplings with a diameter of approximately one inch. The dumplings should be transferred to the soup. The dumplings should be allowed to cook until they float to the surface, at which point the heat should be raised to medium and the cooking should continue with the lid off. For around ten minutes, continue to cook the dumplings until they start to become more tender.

9. Place the rice in the pan and continue to cook, stirring the mixture regularly, for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until both the rice and the bolitas are cooked. To suit your preferences, adjust the saltiness of the soup’s spice.

10. After stirring in the scallions, continue to heat for approximately one more minute, or until they start to become more tender.

11. After dividing the soup among the dishes, decorate it with anything you choose, and serve.

Recipe Variations

In Caribbean sofrito, the cubanelle and aji dulce are two ingredients that play a significant role. When it comes to substituting, you have the option of using a combination of hot and sweet peppers, such as poblano, jalapeño, and bell pepper. Have fun with your taste buds and your imagination!
How to Serve Asopao de Pollo
Tostones made from green plantains or breadfruit should be served alongside asopao de pollo. Additionally, a slice of avocado should be included. At the table, there ought to be a bottle of pique, which is a Puerto Rican hot sauce that is created with vinegar and several kinds of spicy chilies. It is recommended that you drink a little beer with this soup. On the other hand, if you are “fancy,” as my mother says I am, a glass of godello wine will come off as quite acceptable.
Asopao de Pollo (Puerto Rican Chicken Stew)

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