If you’ve never had Dominican cuisine before, then pollo guisado (pronounced “po-LOH goe-SAH-doh”) may be something that piques your interest.
Pollo guisado is a famous dish among Dominicans, which means it’s also popular throughout the world.
It’s hearty and spicy, yet also extremely flavorful.
If you’re looking to eat something unique but don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen, then pollo guisado might be just what you need!
Here’s everything you need to know about pollo guisado so you can enjoy it as much as its native country does.
What are the ingredients for pollo guisado?
Ingredients for pollo guisado vary from region to region, but they all share commonalities.
You’ll find that most recipes call for chicken thighs, which are usually boneless and skinless.
The recipe will also include some combination of vegetables like onions, peppers, garlic, and tomatoes.
Some versions even add in more herbs and spices like oregano, cumin, and thyme.
You should always check the label on any packaged foods you purchase because not all products are created equal.
Sometimes, you could end up with a lot of unnecessary salt or sugar that won’t help you achieve the flavor you expect from your meal.
But if you do use these ingredients, you’ll notice that they often come from natural sources like plants or fruits.
The final ingredient will depend on how you plan on cooking your pollo guisado.
There are many different ways to prepare this dish, but here are three options for you to consider.
This method is probably the easiest way to cook your pollo guisado, especially if you have access to a hot water faucet.
Just place your chicken into a pot filled with enough cold water to cover the meat by a few inches.
Bring the water to a boil and let it simmer until the chicken has cooked through.
While the chicken is boiling, saute your onions and garlic in a skillet over medium heat.
Once the vegetables start getting soft, you can begin adding the rest of your ingredients.
Add them one by one and stir frequently while each ingredient cooks.
Once the chicken has finished cooking, remove it from the hot water and set it aside to cool down.
When the chicken is completely cooled off, shred it using two forks.
Then, return it back into the same pan where you previously added your veggies.
Stir well and serve.
Roasting your pollo guisado is a great alternative to boiling because it doesn’t require you to constantly monitor the water temperature.
In fact, you only need to keep a close eye on the oven once you put the chicken inside.
To roast your chicken, take a large roasting pan and line it with aluminum foil.
Next, place the raw chicken pieces on top of the foil lining.
Make sure to leave plenty of space between the pieces so that they don’t touch.
Then, sprinkle some salt and pepper onto your chicken pieces.
After that, add your onions and garlic to the bottom of the pan.
Next, pour in olive oil and toss the vegetables around until they’re coated in oil and seasonings.
Place the pan into the oven and bake it for 45 minutes.
Next, flip the chicken pieces over and continue baking for another 30 minutes.
Remove it from the oven when the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
This method is best used for whole chickens, so feel free to cut the breasts into smaller pieces if you prefer.
Frying your chicken is probably the quickest way to cook it, but it takes some extra effort.
Luckily, there are many people who have made pollo guisado at home without needing to fry it.
For example, you can marinate your chicken in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, and oil before grilling it.
Or, you can simply coat the chicken with flour and deep fry it instead.
To fry your pollo guisado, first preheat your oil in a deep pan.
Then, add the flour into the oil and mix well until it turns golden brown.
After that, add your seasoning and chicken pieces and continue stirring it until the chicken is fully covered in flour.
Finally, add your shredded chicken into the hot oil and fry it until the meat is fully cooked.
What is the cooking time for pollo guisado?
This isn’t an exact science, because there are many variables involved when making pollo guisado, including the size of the chicken, the spices used, and the heat level of the sauce.
However, generally speaking, most people use a medium-sized bird, like a whole chicken or half chicken breast, and cook it for around 45 minutes to one hour per pound.
If you’re using a larger bird, like a turkey or duck, then you should adjust accordingly.
And if you’re unsure whether your chicken will fit into your slow cooker, check out our guide on how to figure out if your crock pot will fit a big chicken.
As for the spice levels, that depends on what you prefer, so feel free to experiment.
But remember, the less spice you add, the more flavor you get from the chicken.
You can also add more chicken stock if you want to increase the moisture content.
What is the origin of pollo guisado?
The word “pollo” refers to chicken, and “guisado” means stewed.
So, pollo guisado literally translates to “stewed chicken.”
The original recipe is thought to have been created by a chef named Juan de la Cruz who worked for the Spanish crown in Santo Domingo.
However, there are many variations of pollo guisado around the world.
Some versions call for more meat than others, while some versions include plantains instead of potatoes.
In fact, the dish has been adapted into so many different ways that the exact origins of pollo guisado remain a mystery.
Pollo Guisado Variations Around the World
In Puerto Rico, pollo guisado is called pollo en su tinta (literally translated to “chicken in its sauce”).
In Venezuela, they call it pollo a la parrilla (meaning “roasted chicken”).
In Cuba, it’s known as pollo a la tumbada (meaning “pulled chicken”), and in Colombia, it’s called pollo a la criolla (which means “creole style”).
In the Dominican Republic, pollo guisado is traditionally made with pork ribs, but it can be done with chicken, too.
And, although it’s usually served on Saturdays, it’s also eaten during holidays like Christmas Eve and Easter.
What are the traditional accompaniments for pollo guisado?
The most important thing to note when eating pollo guisado is that it’s best served with rice and beans—and not too much of either.
The rice should be fluffy, not mushy, while the beans should be tender and soft.
The dish itself is fairly simple, meaning you don’t really need anything else to accompany it.
You can serve it on its own, but some people prefer to serve it with rice and beans.
This will give you the opportunity to add more flavor to the meal by adding other side dishes like fried plantains, black beans, or even refried beans.
Rice and beans are the two most common accompaniments for pollo guisado, but there are a lot of other things you can put on top of it.
Fried plantains, for example, are a great way to add additional texture to the dish, and they’ll help to keep the rice from getting soggy.
If you’re having friends over, you could also consider serving it with some fresh fruit like pineapple or mango, which would cut down on the acidity of the sauce and provide a refreshing touch to the meal.
Hot pepper sauce
Dominican sauces are usually very hot, so if you’re sensitive to heat, you should probably avoid them altogether.
However, if you’re up for the challenge, then you can try one of these four sauces instead:
Chile de árbol (chili sauce)
Ají amarillo (yellow chili sauce)
Mole negro (black mole sauce)
Pasilla (pasilla chile powder)
You can use any of these sauces as a base for your pollo guisado, and you can adjust the amount according to your taste.
The key is finding the right balance between spice and sweetness so that the entire dish doesn’t become overly hot.
How would you describe the flavor of pollo guisado?
This is a classic Dominican dish known for being full of flavor.
The chicken meat is cooked with onion, bell pepper, garlic, and other spices until tender.
Then, the peppers are removed, leaving only the chicken.
The next step is where things get interesting.
A sweet and sour sauce made from pineapple, tomatoes, and vinegar is poured over the chicken.
The pineapple gives the dish a distinct sweetness, while the tomato adds tanginess.
And if all that isn’t enough, the dish is served with plantain chips (also called yautía), which add another layer of flavor.
The combination of all these different flavors makes pollo guisado one of the most distinctive dishes around.
You really can’t go wrong with this meal if you try it once.
What are some tips for making the perfect pollo guisado?
When cooking pollo guisado, there are many things to keep in mind.
For example, when you begin cooking the pollo, you must first remove the skin from the chicken breast, as it will cause the sauce to become too greasy.
Then, once the chicken has been cooked through, you must season it well with salt and pepper.
Next, you’ll add the chopped onions, garlic, and bell peppers, along with the tomato paste.
You can use either fresh or canned tomatoes, depending on your preference.
Once all of these ingredients have been added, you’ll cook them until they’re soft and aromatic.
Finally, you’ll mix together the stock and the cayenne pepper, and let them simmer for 15 minutes.
This mixture will thicken up, giving you a great tasting sauce to pour over the chicken.
So, now that we understand what pollo guisado is, let’s learn how to make it.
2-1/2 pound chicken cut up, skin on
2 tablespoons adobo seasoning
1 tablespoon sazon seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion chopped
1 small bell pepper chopped (or use hotter peppers to your taste)
3 cloves garlic chopped
1/4 cup sofrito
1/2 cup olives
3 medium potatoes halved and quartered
2-3 bay leaves
8 ounces tomato sauce
1 cup chicken broth
Season the chicken with adobo and sazon seasoning.
Be sure to get all sides.
Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
Add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes to brown all sides, flipping half way through.
Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic and sofrito.
Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Add the olives, potatoes, bay leaves, tomato sauce and chicken broth.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover.
Simmer for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and fall-off-the-bone.
It should register 165 degrees internal (minimum) when measured with a food thermometer.
Garnish with red pepper flakes and fresh chopped parsley and serve.
How do you know when pollo guisado is cooked through?
When it comes to pollo guisado, it’s all about flavor.
The flavors are what will make you crave it again and again.
And if you’re trying to get back into the swing of things after missing out on some Dominican meals, pollo guisado is a great place to start.
The most important factor when it comes to pollo guisado is temperature.
You want the meat to be cooked through — meaning that every last bit of it should be falling apart tenderly.
You can tell by touching it to see how easily it falls off the bone.
It’s also important to check whether the chicken is done by tasting it.
When you taste the chicken, you want to detect the slightest hint of saltiness.
But it’s not enough to just taste one piece of meat.
Taste all of the pieces of meat and get a general sense of how they all taste.
If you can’t find any trace of saltiness, then the meat isn’t fully cooked yet.
You should also use your nose to determine whether it’s ready to eat.
The smell of the chicken will change once it’s cooked.
So, if you notice a certain aroma, then it’s probably safe to say that the chicken is done.
However, if the smell doesn’t seem right, then it’s best to let it cook for another 15 minutes.
What are some common mistakes people make when cooking pollo guisado?
When I first started learning about pollo guisado, I was surprised by one thing: most recipes call for green peppers.
But why would you use green peppers instead of red ones?
After all, they taste equally good!
The answer is that green peppers are more commonly available than red ones, so many cooks prefer them.
However, red peppers contain a higher level of capsaicin, which gives them their heat.
So if you do use green peppers, then you’ll probably want to reduce the amount used in your recipe because the sauce will be less spicy.
Another mistake people make when cooking pollo guisado is that they cook it on the stovetop instead of using an oven.
The best way to cook chicken breasts is in the oven, where the meat is evenly cooked through.
This allows you to control the internal temperature of the meat without overcooking it.
- 1 large pot or Dutch oven
- 2-1/2 pound chicken skin on, cut up
- 2 tablespoons adobo seasoning
- 1 tablespoon sazon seasoning
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 bell pepper small, chopped or use hotter peppers to your taste
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 1/4 cup sofrito
- 1/2 cup olives
- 3 potatoes medium sized, halved and quartered
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 1 cup chicken broth
- Season the chicken with adobo and sazon seasoning.
- Be sure to get all sides.
- Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes to brown all sides, flipping half way through.
- Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic and sofrito.
- Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the olives, potatoes, bay leaves, tomato sauce and chicken broth.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover.
- Simmer for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and fall-off-the-bone.
- It should register 165 degrees internal (minimum) when measured with a food thermometer.
- Garnish with red pepper flakes and fresh chopped parsley and serve.