Warm your bones and fill your belly with Pollo Guisado, a hearty Puerto Rican chicken stew that’s packed with flavor, easy to make, and ready to devour in about an hour. Granted, we eat this year-round on my little island, where it rarely dips below 70 degrees. But it’s especially delightful when the weather turns chilly and you’re looking for a hearty meal to make you feel all sorts of toasty.
A Note On Authenticity
This is not a historically authentic recipe. We strive to create recipes that are accessible to everyone, which means ingredients need to be available at a mainstream budget grocery store. We test recipes using the least amount of steps, tools, and ingredients while still honoring the spirit of the recipe. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico and look forward to a time when our ingredients are available in mainstream markets. Until then, buen provecho!
What Is Pollo Guisado?
Pollo Guisado (pronounced puh-yuh gee-sah-duh) is a Puerto Rican stew made up of braised chicken, potatoes, carrots, and olives in a tomato-based broth. Like most savory dishes from the island, its deep flavor comes from sofrito, a blend of peppers, onions, garlic, and cilantro. The unctious chicken, briny olives, and subtle sweetness of the carrots make a truly perfect bite.
CAN I SUBSTITUTE THE CHicken?
Traditionally, this is a bone-in chicken stew. To create a quicker cooking time, and manageable bites, we have opted for chopped skinless, boneless chicken thighs. Feel free to use bone in chicken thighs, or butcher a whole chicken. You can also use any protein that benefits from a long braise. You can substitute chicken with chuck roast, top round, or even steak. Using these cuts will lengthen your cooking time by thirty or so minutes. If you are vegetarian or vegan, use a vegetable-based broth and substitute the chicken with mushrooms. Brown them, just as you would the chicken, which helps them release moisture and develop big flavors.
What To Do If Your Broth Won’t Thicken
If you find your broth to be entirely too watery at the end of the cook, here are a few tips to help you thicken it.
- Uncover the pot and turn the heat up to medium-high. Allowing the steam to escape will reduce the broth and thicken it.
- Break up some of the potatoes. The starches will naturally thicken the broth.
- If all else fails, use a cornstarch slurry. Mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with two tablespoons of cold water. Add it to the stew, then bring the stew to a boil for 1 minute while continuously stirring.
What To Serve With POllO GuiSAdo
On the island, this stew is traditionally served over white rice. But feel free to break with tradition and serve it with:
Pollo Guisado (Puerto Rican Chicken Stew)
- 1.5 lb chicken thighs, boneless and skinless $4.49
- 2 tsp adobo, all-purpose seasoning* $0.08
- 2 Tbsp cooking oil $0.08
- 1 yellow onion, large dice $0.42
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped $0.14
- 1/2 cup sofrito $0.72
- 8 oz tomato sauce $0.59
- 1 packet sazón seasoning with annatto* $0.17
- 2 bay leaves $0.20
- 2 tsp dried oregano $0.20
- 1/4 cup manzanilla olives, pimiento-stuffed $0.33
- 1 large potato, 2-inch dice (about 1 cup) $1.12
- 2 large carrots, 1/4-inch rounds (about 1 cup ) $0.32
- 3 cups chicken stock $0.51
Dry the chicken thighs thoroughly with paper towels. Cut into 2-inch cubes. Season with Adobo.
Set a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the oil. Once it has warmed, add the chicken in one layer and brown.
Once the chicken has browned, remove it from the pot and set it aside. Add the onion to the pot, and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the sofrito and tomato sauce. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until it is thick and bubbly.
Add the sazón, bay leaves, oregano, olives, potatoes, carrots, and chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Add the chicken back into the pot. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 40-50 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
Take the stew off the heat, sample it, and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaves before serving.
See how we calculate recipe costs here.
- 2 Tbsp salt
- 1 Tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground oregano
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
*A packet of sazón contains about 1.5 teaspoons of sazón. If you cannot source sazón use the following:
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/3 teaspoon ground annatto
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/8 teaspoon ground oregano
Sazón and adobo share a lot of similar ingredients, but are used at different points in the cooking process, and will develop slightly different colors and flavors.
How to Make Pollo Guisado – Step by Step Photos
Dry the 1.5 pounds of chicken thighs thoroughly with paper towels. Then dice them into 2-inch cubes. Finally, season the chicken with 2 teaspoons of adobo. (Helpful hint: freeze the chicken thighs for about 15 minutes to make them easier to dice.)
Set a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the 2 tablespoons of oil to the pre-heated Dutch oven. Once it has warmed, add the diced chicken in one layer. Do not crowd the pot. Brown in batches if necessary. Remove the chicken from the pot and set it aside.
Next, add the diced yellow onion to the pot and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Then add the 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the 1/2 cup of sofrito and 8 ounces of tomato sauce to the pot.
Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until it is thick and bubbly. If you run a spoon through it, the sauce should remain divided.
Add the packet of sazón, 2 teaspoons of oregano, 2 bay leaves, 1 cup of diced potatoes, 1 cup of sliced carrots, 1/4 cup of manzanilla olives, and 3 cups of chicken stock into the pot.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then add the chicken back into the pot. Lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 40-50 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. If the stew hasn’t thickened, break a few of the potatoes apart with a fork, and keep the stew simmering with the lid off until it thickens.
When it is off the heat, sample the soup and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaves before serving. Garnish with cilantro (optional) and serve with white rice (optional). As we say in Puerto Rico, buen provecho!