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The Ultimate Fricasé de Pollo (Cuban Chicken Stew)

The Ultimate Fricasé de Pollo (Cuban Chicken Stew)

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This is the ultimate Fricasé de Pollo (Cuban chicken fricassee) recipe! Marinated drumsticks are simmered until tender in an irresistible combination of olives, potatoes, and Cuban flavors!

Fricasé de Pollo is a Cuban chicken stew. It can be eaten as-is, like a soup, although it is often served over white rice. Cuban black beans make a great side dish for this, as do fried plantains. You can serve each person an intact drumstick with the potato/olive/sauce mixture, (above) or you can slip the extremely tender meat off the bone and stir it into the stew (below).

I recently posted a Fricasé de Pollo recipe that came from Joey’s family cookbook. That recipe – which is totally delicious and I definitely recommend trying- is more of an easy weeknight version. All it requires is throwing some ingredients into a pressure cooker or Instant Pot and letting it all stew together. You can find that recipe here.

This recipe is the more “elevated” version. This version is a result of our combined knowledge of Cuban cooking as well as trying other people’s recipes and attempting to replicate them. What we have come up with here is more of an “Ultimate Fricasé de Pollo” recipe. It’s going to take quite a bit more time and it’s a little more involved, but it is oh-so-worth-it.

This recipe begins by marinating the drumsticks in a sauce similar to a Cuban mojo sauce. In Cuban cooking, you will find mojo often used  a marinade for Cuban pork, or as a dipping sauce for to stones (Fried plantains) or yuca frita (fried cassava). It’s actually delicious on most anything! But here, it forms a delicious base layer for our broth to be built upon.

While many of these ingredients are pantry staples, there are two that may look unfamiliar. The first one is sour orange juice. Sour orange juice comes from sour oranges, which can be hard to find in most of the country. I have had absolutely no luck finding them in Colorado. There are many bottled sour orange marinades available, which is what I most often use. You can also make a substitution out of orange and lime juice. To find out how to do that, as well as further information about sour orange juice, click here.

The second is vino seco. Vino seco is a type of dry golden cooking wine common in Cuban cooking. This too may be difficult to find in many parts of the country, although it is available online. I highly recommend using it for that extra splash of Cuban perfection, but if you absolutely cannot find it, you may substitute white wine. You can find more information about vino seco here.

As another side note, I would like to mention that I strongly recommend removing the skins from your drumsticks before marinating them. This goes against all of my instincts- isn’t that where all the flavor is?? But having tried it both ways, I can assure you that leaving the skins on creates a rubbery final texture and adds too much of a greasy mouthfeel to the broth. It is the traditional Cuban method of cooking this dish to remove the skins, and for good reason.

During this time of quarantine and lockdown, this is the type of comforting recipe that speaks to me the most. It’s great to share, hearty, and full of pantry staples. Do yourself a favor and get this Cuban chicken fricassee into your life right now.



The Ultimate Fricasé de Pollo (Cuban Chicken Stew)

This is the ultimate Fricasé de Pollo (Cuban chicken fricassee) recipe! Marinated drumsticks are simmered until tender in an irresistible combination of olives, potatoes, and Cuban flavors!

Course Dinner, Main Course, Soup, stew
Cuisine Cuban
Prep Time 1 day
Cook Time 2 hours


For the chicken marinade:

  • 2.5 lbs chicken drumsticks
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 cup sour orange juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice (about 2 limes)

For the Fricasé de Pollo

  • 1 medium-large onion (about 2 cups after dicing)
  • 1 red bell pepper (about 1.5 cups after dicing)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup vino seco
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 can no-salt-added-tomato-sauce
  • 1/2 lb yukon gold potatoes, skins removed
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tbsp balsalmic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup pimento stuffed manzanilla olives
  • splash of olive brine (optional)


To marinate the chicken:

  1. If they have them, remove the skins from the drumsticks.

  2. In a large, non-metallic bowl, stir together all marinade ingredients. Submerge the drumsticks in the marinade as much as possible. Cover, and place in the fridge overnight (or at least for 3 hours). Rotate occasionally.

To make the Fricasé de Pollo:

  1. Dice onion and bell pepper. Mince garlic cloves.

  2. Chop skinless yukon gold potatoes into bite sized pieces, about 3/4 inches in size. Set aside.

  3. In a large pot, heat olive oil until shimmering. Add chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes until browned on that side. Turn, and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Don't throw away the marinade!

  4. Remove the chicken from the pot and place on a plate. Turn down the heat if necessary. Add onion to the pot and stir occasionally, cooking for a minute or two until beginning to turn translucent.

  5. Add bell pepper and garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring often.

  6. Add vino seco, chicken stock, tomato sauce and leftover marinade into the pot. Stir in oregano, cumin, pepper, and bay leaf. Put the chicken back in and add the potatoes.

  7. Simmer, partially covered, for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  8. After 40 minutes, add balsalmic vinegar and olives. Remove lid and simmer for another 20 minutes.

  9. Remove from heat. You may either slip all of the tender meat fromt eh bones and stir into the stew, or serve each person an intact drumstick with some of the broth/olive/potato mixture. Serve over white rice if desired.

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