Pollo Borracho (Drunken Chicken)

15 Sep

Usually when I have several pounds of organic boneless chicken thighs from Costco, I make pollo guisado (Latin stewed chicken) and eat some now, freeze some for later in pint containers. Very convenient and beloved by all (must be the beer and wine that go into it?  https://hotcheapeasy.wordpress.com/2010/12/17/abuelitas-stew-comes-through-%C2%A1un-guiso/)

But I just didn’t feel like it. At. All. No, no, no.

So instead, I made about three pounds worth of Pollo Borracho or Drunken Chicken, so called because it incorporates whatever the local hooch is in your part of Latin America. In the following version, adapted from Memories of a Cuban Kitchen by Mary Urrutia Randelman and Joan Schwartz (1992 Wiley Publishing),  the booze is white or light rum (I used Don Q Cristal, a Puerto Rican white rum, which is — by the way — the only acceptable rum for a Cuba Libre).

This recipe does take a long time to simmer, but the active part is very minimal and very basic. The texture is beautiful; it starts to shred of its own accord (I’m thinking quick black bean and chicken quesadillas…). Best of all, Leandro called me the best cook in the world after trying it (which means it is safe to pack the leftovers for his lunch tomorrow. Hurray!). I will experiment with freezing some for future reference!

Pollo Borracho

3 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs (you may use pretty much any chicken parts. Bone-in is fine, but do remove the skin)

¼-1/2 tsp salt

¼-1/2 tsp oregano

Black pepper to taste

4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, peeled and sliced thick

1 bay leaf

¼ Cup dry white wine

¼ Cup light or white rum

¾ Cup pimiento-stuffed green olives (about 20) drained

Wash the chicken and pat dry, then season with salt, oregano and pepper. Heat olive oil at medium high (in a large skillet that can accommodate all the chicken and that you can cover) until fragrant and then brown the chicken thoroughly on all sides. Remove chicken and reserve.

Lower the heat to medium low. Put onions and garlic in the skillet and sauté until wilted. Add bay leaf, wine, rum and olives. Stir to incorporate, then add chicken pieces, stir, cover and cook on low for 45 -60 minutes. If your skillet is oven-proof, you can cook it in a 350°F oven for 45 minutes instead. Remove the bay leaf and serve with white or yellow Latin rice.

NB: If you are more of a tequila person and want to get a bit more elaborate, try this Mexican recipe by my friend and inspiration, the peerless Zarela Martínez  http://www.zarela.com/2010/pollo-borracho-drunken-chicken/ It was one of the most-requested dishes at her eponymous Manhattan restaurant. It includes raisins and almonds!


6 Responses to “Pollo Borracho (Drunken Chicken)”

  1. Mad Dog March 3, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    Lucky chicken 😉

  2. Karen September 15, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    Drunken chicken sounds so good. Thanks for the recipe as well as your friends recipe. I like two for one.

  3. ceciliag September 15, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    Drunken chicken indeed. What a great idea, chicken needs those punchy flavours! c

  4. Erin September 15, 2011 at 6:38 am #

    Hi Natalia,
    Love your blog! This is another awesome recipe!
    Question, though: do you think this could be done in a slow cooker (Crock Pot)?

    • nataliadecuba September 15, 2011 at 7:14 am #

      I’m not really sure, as I don’t have much crockpot experience (yet). I think the meat might completely dissolve over time on thighs, but perhaps a different cut?

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