I do not speak Spanish. One day I would maybe like to learn, but I don’t even pretend to know how. I do speak French however. My grandmother, who was a missionary to Haiti, got her degree in French and taught French for years. She lived with us and taught me how to speak French at a young age, alongside English. I’ve lost a lot of the French I remember, but occasionally I get to use it and hopefully one day I can be fluent again. While my family has roots in the Caribbean, none of us (as far as I know) comes from a “Latin” country. But a lot of Caribbean and Latin food has been woven together, so sometimes Dominican, Cuban, and Puerto Rican style food makes its way into our kitchen.
And today was one of those days. This past year since Jason and I have been married, I stumbled across a recipe for Puerto Rican style stewed chicken that we all fell in love with. The only problem? The prepared sauces, that the recipe I used required, were a tomato based sauce called sofrito and a cilantro based sauce called recaito, that turned out to be LOADED with MSG…oops. I didn’t realize it until after maybe 6 months of making it, but I’m glad I finally did. No WONDER those flavors came so alive in my mouth, it was all the neurotoxins telling my brain that the food was delicious! :p After that discovery I knew that I would need to start making my own sofrito and recaito, but it wasn’t until today that I learned how easy it is!
Both the sofrito and recaito call for culantro, which is actually an herb very similar to cilantro. It has long thin leaves and jagged edges, and smells just like cilantro but has a slightly different and (from what I can gather) stronger flavor.
Check a hispanic supermarket or international farmers market to find it, the flavor is delicious! But it can easily be substituted with more cilantro, which both the recipes had in them also.
I followed Daisy Martinez’s recipe for sofrito, which you can find here. It’s just a smooth blend of fresh bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro, and culantro. Very fresh and flavorful, it’s amazing what it can do.
I also used Daisy’s recipe for recaito, which is a fresh blend of cilantro, culantro, garlic, and onion.
A little bit goes a long way with the recaito, I would only need this little bit for a huge amount of cooking.
And the awesome thing about both of these mixtures is that they last in the fridge (or even the freezer) and can honestly be used for a million different things. Tonight I used them to make a delicious stewed chicken called Pollo en Fricase, but they can also make a MEAN rice and beans. I’ll save the rice and beans for another day, today I wanted to share this with you.
Pollo en Fricase
- 3-4 lbs. chicken pieces
- Adobo seasoning
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- 1 1/2 c. sofrito
- 1/4 c. recaito
- 2/3 c. tomato sauce
- salt to taste
-In a wide pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it’s hot. While waiting for the oil to cool, liberally season the chicken with the Adobo seasoning. Brown the seasoned chicken in the hot pan on both sides.
-When all the chicken is brown, remove it to a plate. Lower the heat to medium.
-Pour the sofrito and recaito into the hot pan (careful, it will steam up a lot). Stir around to cook for about 5 minutes.
-Stir in the tomato sauce and add the chicken back into the pot. Stir to coat all the chicken with sauce. Cover and let stew for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
-Add salt to taste, if desired. Makes 6 entree servings.
I swear, the sofrito and recaito do ALL the work for you. I don’t even add salt to it, it has so much flavor that it really doesn’t need it! Fresh, flavorful, and healthy. No MSG here.
We enjoyed this with some spanish rice and fried plantains. You should come over for dinner. Trust me, you really want to.
(Note to vegetarians: I’m pretty sure this would make really good tofu or tempeh as well, I’m going to work on a recipe for that soon!)
We have to eat all this today and tomorrow because we’re heading out to Tennessee tomorrow afternoon! Somehow I think that won’t be a problem though.
Thanks for reading!