Thursday, September 25, 2008

Authentic Cuban American Recipes: Chicken and Yellow Rice, Cuban Bread, and Cuban Sandwich

Authentic Cuban American Chicken and Yellow Rice Recipe:
Frugal, Delicious and a Taste of the Caribbean.
Where I live there is a lot of Cuban influence. Actually a lot of influence from all of the Caribbean. This is an authentic recipe for Chicken and Yellow Rice. Arroz Amarillo con Pollo.

I am not Cuban, but I have a few friends who are. I also have a friend who is Chinese Cuban American. The Caribbean is a mixture of many ethnicities and it is reflected in their cooking. Back in the day many immigrants from China and India and also Africa were brought to the Caribbean Islands to work the plantations. Her family settled in Cuba from China. She was born in Cuba. She laughs that her father spoke Spanish with a Chinese accent. I also have friends from Puerto Rico and Jamaica. Don't ask me to tell you what mannish water is, or about goats head soup---yuck!

Why Saffron is not Authentic in Cuban American Cuisine.
Chicken and Yellow rice comes from the Spanish influence in Cuba. The Spanish immigrants loved saffron from Spain. However saffron was very pricey and the Spanish immigrants could not get it or afford it in the Islands so they learned to make a substitute out of annatto seeds. They use the seeds to make annatto oil. I've included the recipe for annatto oil at the bottom of this post. In every supermarket where I live, there is always an ethnic section for Cuban cuisine. So where I live, I can buy annatto seeds. I can also buy ready made annatto oil. Most Cuban American cooks today just use the little flavor packets for yellow rice made by VIGO.

The Chicken For Chicken and Yellow Rice
Recipe By: Deana
Serving Size: 6


3 lbs. chicken pieces (bone in and with skin on is the most authentic)
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 recipe yellow rice, see recipe below


Peel, smash and mince garlic. Mix minced garlic in a small bowl with the oregano, salt, pepper, and olive oil.

Rub the chicken pieces all over with the garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Marinate, covered at least 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Then Grill Chicken. The Chicken is most authentic and best grilled, but you can also pan fry or bake.

To Pan fry and bake.
Heat a large frying pan preferably a non-stick coated one and add a little olive oil.Brown the chicken pieces over medium heat until golden brown about 3 minutes per side Then bake in a 350 degree oven about 45 minutes or till cooked through.

Serve over Yellow Rice.

Serving Ideas : Good with black beans too.

NOTES : You can use leftover deboned chicken or turkey and mix it with a recipe of yellow rice for a quick dinner.

Yellow Rice

Recipe By: Deana
Serving Size: 6


2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 medium red bell pepper, cored seeded & diced
1 cup frozen peas
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 envelope Vigo coloring, (or annatto oil)
2 cups long-grain white rice
4 cups water


Heat a 4-quart heavy covered pot and add the oil, garlic, onion, and bell pepper. Saute for a few minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add the remaining ingredients, cover, and simmer over low heat 20 to 25 minutes until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed.

How to Make Annatto Oil

1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup annatto seeds
Combine the oil and seeds in a small saucepan. Gently cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The oil will have a strong red-orange color. Strain oil and store in the refrigerator.

To use annatto oil in place of the VIGO seasoning packet, use 1 to 2 TBS annatto oil per yellow rice recipe.

For those who want to try this recipe but can't get the VIGO seasoning and coloring packets or can't find annotto seed or annatto oil. You can check web sources Cuban Food Market. Or you can write me and I can send you some.
Or you can use a t. of tumeric (but tumeric is not authentic Cuban American)

Crusty Cuban Bread

Recipe By: Deana
Serving Size: 12


1 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups bread flour (can in some cases add 1/4 c more flour but try not to. The dough is suppose to be softer than other bread doughs)
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast


Put all into bread pan of bread maker & start on dough cycle. Spray large cookie sheet with oil spray. When dough is done from bread maker: Shape loaf in a long flat bread shape (Similar to Italian Bread or a French baguette but a little flatter and not as round) and place diagonally on cookie sheet. Let rise till doubled about an hour. Make five shallow slashes on loaf. Place a shallow pan in bottom of cold oven. Put a cup of boiling water in the pan. Place cookie sheet with bread on oven rack above the pan with the boiling water. Let rest 10 minutes in oven then turn on oven and set to 400 degrees. Set timer for 35 minutes. Cool bread on rack and then enjoy. :-)

Notes: Alternate Directions.
Using Kitchen Aid Mixer: Put ingredients in kitchen aid mixing bowl. (You can place the warm water and yeast in the mixing bowl first if you like and let proof about 5 minutes.) Then with a dough hook, I mix and knead with the Kitchen Aid mixer on speed 1 to mix and then speed 2, for a total of 5 minutes. Then turn dough out into a greased bowl, cover and let rise till doubled in size. About an hour or so. Then follow directions for shaping and second rise and baking.
Mixing and Kneading by Hand: Put ingredients in a large mixing bowl. (You can place the warm water and yeast in the mixing bowl first if you like and let proof about 5 minutes.) Mix ingredients to form dough. Turn out on counter and knead about 10 minutes till elastic and smooth. Then turn dough out into a greased bowl, cover and let rise till doubled in size. About an hour or so. Then follow directions for shaping and second rise and baking.

The Cuban Sandwich

Cuban bread
yellow mustard & mayonnaise mixed together (Reg. yellow mustard NO Dijon)
pork roast, cold -- thinly sliced
(Cuban Pork Roast is seasoned with Olive Oil, Oregano and Garlic. Where I live I can get Spanish or Cuban Pork roast at all delis. You can also make your own.)
ham, thinly sliced
swiss cheese, thinly sliced
dill pickles, thinly sliced (It's not authentic without the pickles! I don't care if you don't like pickles. The pickles are not optional.)

DO NOT ADD ANYTHING ELSE TO THIS SANDWICH! (You may leave out the mayo if you must- There is some difference of opinion on how authentic the mayo is, but do not add anything else to this sandwich. Some places add salami but salami is not authentic -it was added by Italian immigrants. Never, Never add tomato or lettuce.)


Slice the bread in half lengthwise; Butter the outside if you are going to press the sandwich in a sandwich press otherwise you don't need to butter the outside. Mix mustard & mayonnaise together (not an exact science but more mustard than mayonnaise, around maybe a 2 to 1 ratio of mustard to mayo) then spread on bread inside bottom half and top half. Then build sandwich from bottom up in this order. Must be in this order. Place thinly sliced ham on bottom bread, then on top of the ham place roast pork, cold and not overcooked, thinly sliced, next swiss cheese thinly sliced, and finally dill pickle slices. Top with top piece of bread. For an authentic cuban you now need to place the sandwich in a preheated sandwich press, or you can improvise using a hot iron skillet placing a foil covered brick on top to press. Toast to your taste and serve. If you don't have a sandwich press skip this step and eat. They are fantastic pressed and unpressed.

NOTES: This is an awesome sandwich and probably the most popular sandwich where I live. Every Deli and Grocery store around makes and sells Cubans (The sandwich not the people LOL). No party is complete without a Cuban Sandwich platter.


Shannon said...

ooooh...that really sounds good! My husband would probably love it- I'll try it!

Deeny said...

Hi Shannon- I added pictures to my post about Cuban Cuisine.