Louisa’s Puerto Rican Chicken & Rice Stew

My friend Louisa introduced us to this amazing stew at their Winter Solstice Party, and it was love at first bite.

Louisa and her husband Bill have a wonderful tradition:  they host a Winter Solstice Party that’s a potluck dinner, with food that represents the sun: round, hot, yellow or somehow sun-related.  (One year our friend Josh brought home-made sushi, which worked since it was food from the land of the rising sun!)  It’s always fun to think of a dish that reminds us of the sun and to see what everyone else brings.

They ask everyone to come around sunset and to bring a candle for a candle exchange.  Their house is only lit with candles and the light of the fire in the fireplace, and it’s cozy and warm. It’s a really wonderful tradition and a chance to catch up with friends and to reflect that even on the longest night, the sun will rise again.

Anyway, I asked Louisa for her recipe, which she was kind enough to share.  It makes a lot and is one of our family’s favorites.

2 tsp garlic, crushed
2 tsp fresh oregano, or 1 tsp dried
1 tsp each cumin, salt, black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast sections, cut into bite size pieces
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
4 oz. turkey ham or bacon, or real ham or bacon, diced
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
2 cups rice, washed (I use basmati)
6 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1/4 cup green olives, halved
1 Tbsp capers

Mix garlic and spices, and rub into chicken. Heat half the olive oil in a big dutch oven, and brown chicken (about 10 minutes.) Remove from pan.

Add more olive oil, and saute onion and green pepper for 5 minutes. Add ham and tomatoes and cook 5 more minutes. Add chicken back in and simmer 20 minutes.

Add rice and stir, then add stock and stir to combine. Bring stock just to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for about 17 minutes. Add cheese, peas, olives and capers, and cook 5 more minutes.

It’s meant to be soupy, so you’ll need to serve it in bowls. So good. Thanks, Louisa!

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