Inspired by Puerto Rico
Whenever I can limit the number of dirty dishes I create making dinner, I know there will be a big appreciative smile from my favorite dishwasher (aka “the Captain”). These two Puerto Rican—inspired recipes allow me to do just that.
Centuries- old Puerto Rican cuisine shows influences from Europe ( mainly Spain) and Africa, as well as from the indigenous Taíno culture. And beginning in the latter part of the 19th century, ingredients from other North American cuisines began to make their way into Puerto Rican dishes as well.
But one traditional Puerto Rican ingredient has remained. Many Puerto Rican savory dishes, including stews, rice, seafood, meat, and poultry, call for adobo seasoning. Unlike other adobo seasonings found in the Philippines, the Caribbean, Mexico, and the Southwest United States that are vinegar-based, hot and spicy sauces and marinades, Puerto Rican adobo is a dry blend that is likely to contain some combination of salt, garlic, oregano, turmeric, coriander, black pepper, lemon, cumin, hot pepper, and/or saffron. So even if you don’t have premade Puerto Rican adobo seasoning on board you can create this classic seasoning using a few spices that you likely already have in your pantry. PUERTO RICAN RICE, CHICKEN, AND VEGGIES SERVES: 4 A riff on arroz con pollo, this easy one-pot dish can be conveniently doubled, making it a perfect meal to share with a large gathering. 3 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided 4 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs Salt and pepper, to taste 1 red bell pepper, sliced thin 1 medium onion, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, minced ½ teaspoon cumin (optional) ½ teaspoon oregano (optional) ½ teaspoon turmeric (optional) Pinch of crushed red pepper (or to taste) 2 cups chicken stock 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes ¾ cup long-grain rice (or whatever rice you have onboard) 2 3-inch strips of lemon peel Water, as needed ¾ cup frozen peas ½ cup small pimento-stuffed olives ¼ cup chopped cilantro (optional) Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy pot over high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until well browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the browned chicken to a plate. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pot and stir in the red bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the seasoning (cumin, oregano, turmeric, and red pepper) and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, and rice and bring to a simmer. Return the chicken and accumulated juices to the pan and add the lemon peel. Cover and cook until rice is tender, about 20 minutes, adding water if needed. Stir in the peas and olives and cook over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until the peas are tender. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve. n