Chicken & Rice Soup with Achiote-Ecuador

While the first recipe I tried out from the cookbook The Latin Road Home didn’t turn out so well, I enjoyed greater success with the second one (not counting the utterly delicious guava and cheese turnovers, click here for the post). Aguado de gallina is described as being a chicken and rice dish that is typical in Latin home cooking. Although the word aguado means “watery” this soup has a thicker consistency to it.

The long list of ingredients was a bit daunting upon first reading the recipe, however, many were items that would be typically found in a household pantry. As for the achiote paste (an ingredient used in many Ecuadorian dishes) I had to substitute with Goya’s Sazon with Coriander and Annatto seasoning as I wasn’t able to find it in its original form. 
The soup was delicious and yielded generous excessive amounts as there were enough leftovers for another whole meal.

Aguado de Gallina-Chicken and Rice Soup with Achiote
recipe from Jose Garces’ The Latin Road Home

3 lb. bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (preferably legs and thighs)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped
2 tbsp. minced garlic (4-6 cloves)
1 red bell pepper; diced
2 tbsp. whole cumin seeds, toasted and ground
2 tbsp. achiote paste
1 tsp. Spanish smoked hot paprika
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
2 fresh bay leaves
3 large plum tomatoes, diced
1 cup long-grain white rice
2 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and diced small (4 cups)
1 large carrot, peeled and diced small
1 lb. fresh English peas, shelled and blanced (I substituted canned peas)
1 tbsp. minced fresh oregano, or 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tbsp. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro

-Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven over high heat and sear the chicken in batches until skin is crispy and golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate. 

-Lower the heat to medium, add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the cumin, achiote paste, paprika, and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 3-5 minutes. Return the chicken to the pan, add the stock and bay leaves, and bring to a low boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the tomatoes and cook about 5 minutes. 

-Add the rice, potatoes, and carrot and return to a simmer. Cook, covered, until the chicken is tender and falling off the bone and the rice is fully cooked, about 40 minutes. 

-Stir in the peas, oregano, parsley, and cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. 

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