I recently read an amazing book called Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton. It’s a beautiful story told from the perspectives of two women. There’s also a lot of discussion of food. On the first night, Marisal, one of the women, eats lechón asado, which is pork marinated in a mojo sauce (sour oranges with seasonings such as oregano, garlic, and cumin), served with black beans, rice, and maduros (fried sweet plantains). It sounds amazing. I would love to make it some day, but I heard that the authentic way is to roast a whole pig all day. I think I’ll find an easier recipe.
Cuban Baked Chicken has Cuban influences, but is not traditionally Cuban. It’s a variation of pollo con arroz and includes peppers, cumin, turmeric, and peas, ingredients you’d find in many Cuban dishes. I changed up the recipe found on Food Network because I’m just that way. More important, this dish cures the recent casserole cravings going through my household.
Pull all your ingredients together: chicken, salt/pepper, olive oil, an onion, yellow and red bell peppers, turmeric, cumin, rice, chicken broth, and peas. I like to measure everything out so all I have to do is dump it into a dutch oven or skillet.
The original recipe calls for a whole chicken cut in 8 pieces, but I find that using my favorite cut of meat, boneless, skinless chicken thighs, tastier. Cook the chicken for about 8 minutes each side. Mine fell apart, which I think made it better. Just be sure it’s nicely browned before you set it aside.
Cook in stages: first the onion for a few minutes, add garlic for another minute, add the peppers for a few minutes, and then add your spices and rice. Stir until well coated. Pour in the broth and bring it to a boil. Throw in your browned chicken and transfer the whole thing to the oven at 375F for about 25 minutes.
Because everything is cooking all by itself and is a complete meal, go do something fun in the meantime.
When it’s done, pull it out of the oven (of course), fluff up the rice, and add some peas.
Scoop it onto a plate and top with cilantro to make it look pretty. Dinner is served!
This is comfort food at its best. Pieces of juicy chicken with seasoned rice that is perfectly tender. Just enough veggies as not to distract. The cumin really comes through and I love the color of turmeric. This is definitely a make again.
Cuban Baked Chicken with Sweet Peppers and Yellow Rice
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 yellow bell pepper seeded, cored, and thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper seeded, cored, and thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 cup white rice
- 1 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup frozen peas
- cilantro for granish
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Pat the chicken dry. Season with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large oven-proof dutch oven pan or deep skillet, with a lid, over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until well browned, about 8 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken to a plate.
- Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring often, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add the peppers and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the turmeric, cumin, rice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir until the rice is coated. Pour in the broth, and stir to distribute the rice evenly. Increase the heat to high and boil until liquid begins to be absorbed into the rice, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken to the rice. Cover and transfer the pan to the oven. Bake until the rice is tender and chicken cooks through, about 25 minutes.
- Remove from oven and uncover. Fluff the rice and stir in the peas. Cover and let sit to warm the peas, about 5 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper. Garnish with cilantro and serve.