One Year Ago: Sage Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and English Onion Soup with Sage

A little explanation is necessary on this one.  You usually don’t think of pasta when you think of Latin cuisine, and certainly not Puerto Rican cuisine.  Yet I found this recipe claiming that many Puerto Ricans, after moving to the United States (especially New York City) combined their cuisine with the cultures around them.  The article I read said that every Puerto Rican family who came to the U.S. adapted a pasta dish to their cultural tastes.  I called my mother (who grew up in one of those aforementioned families) and asked if my grandmother ever made a Puerto Rican pasta dish.  My mother said no, but when pressed, she did say that my grandmother did make a pasta dish with a basic tomato sofrito.

My grandmother’s recipe is no longer around (although it’s doubtful she used a recipe), but if I remember correctly, this recipe comes from Chef Daisy Martinez.  Chef Martinez was also part of a family in New York that came from Puerto Rico, so I trust it’s authenticity.  I adapted it only slightly to remind me more of another of my grandmother’s Puerto Rican recipes.  It makes a great change from a standard pasta sauce and brings a new culture of flavor to your dinner table.

If you’d like a copy of the recipe without the pictures, send me an email at intothewardrobe@hotmail.com.  If you’d like updates of future recipe postings, you can follow me here on WordPress or on Twitter @Dan65802.

INGREDIENTS:

2 Tbs. olive oil

2 lb. chicken pieces (I used boneless breasts with the skin on which are a little easier to eat with a knife and fork.)

1 Tbs. bacon fat (or 2 more Tbs. olive oil)

salt and pepper

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 Spanish onion, thickly sliced

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

6 or 7 green olives, sliced

2 Tbs. tomato paste

28oz. can crushed tomatoes

2 bay leaves

½ tsp. crushed red pepper

¼ cup chopped cilantro

1 lb. spaghetti

DIRECTIONS:

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Season the chicken with salt and black pepper and add to the skillet. 

Espaghetti con Pollo 01

Cook until golden on both sides, about 10 minutes, transfer to a plate.

Espaghetti con Pollo 01a

Clean out pan and heat the bacon fat (or olive oil) over medium heat and add the bell pepper, onion and garlic; cook until softened, about 8 minutes. 

Espaghetti con Pollo 02a

Stir in the olives and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in the tomato paste, then add the crushed tomatoes, bay leaves and crushed red pepper. 

Espaghetti con Pollo 04a

Add the chicken and any juices; lower the heat, cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes. 

Espaghetti con Pollo 05a

Remove the chicken to a platter, discard the bay leaves and stir in the cilantro; season with salt and pepper.

Espaghetti con Pollo 06

Lower heat on sauce and keep warm.

Espaghetti con Pollo 08

Meanwhile in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the spaghetti until al dente; drain. 

 

Add sauce to bottom of the pasta pot.  Add the drained pasta back to the pot and combine.

Espaghetti con Pollo 11

Serve with chicken on the side or atop the pasta and sauce.

Espaghetti con Pollo 00

The taste is very Puerto Rican and the crushed pepper gives a nice heat in the back of the throat.  If you give this one a try, or want to berate me about authenticity issues, you can send me an email at the above address or you can drop me a line in the comments section.

Any recipe that reminds me of my grandmother and her cooking is a good one in my opinion.  This one does.  My grandmother passed on about 7 years ago now, and I miss her.  When I see her again in the presence of God, I plan to talk about this recipe with her.

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