Monday, July 2, 2012

Pollo Guisado and Home-made Flan!

Last tuesday I was a hungry monster and was dead set on making pollo guisado and home made flan.  Problem--I had just worked 11 hours and was exhausted.  BUT, my rule of thumb is you must always obey the stomach when it craves for something.  Plus I haven't posted a cooking blog in awhile so lets get cooking!!

Dish #1: Pollo Guisado
My craving for pollo guisado came from a visit to the Dominican Republic embassy.  They were serving it for lunch and it looked scrumptious!  When I went to look for a recipe, there was oddly a lot of food trash talking online between dominicans and puerto ricans staking out this dish as their own national dish.  And here I am, Vietnamese, and blogging about pollo guisado--hah!.  Whoever made it, at the end of the day, it's a yummy (and easy!) braised chicken stew joining all the flavors you probably already know and love to cook with.  This's going to wipe out the hump day blues! 

Note: This is a moshposh of 4 recipes that I mixed together.  Everyone has different ways of making it and this is my version:

For 2 people:
* 4 chicken thighs with bone and skin on (I like skin and the bones gives it more flavor while braising)
* salt and freshly ground black pepper (it makes a huge difference)
* garlic powder
* olive oil
* 1 green bell pepper--finely chopped
* 1 bunch of cilantro
* 1 small red/yellow onion, quartered.  (I also threw in some delicious pearl onions that a friend randomly gave us from his garden!)
*2 plum tomatoes, quartered.
* 1 tablespoon or so of tomato paste
* a buttload of fresh mashed garlic.  I LOVE garlic!
* 1-2 pinches of oregano
* 1 habenero
* 1 packet of Goya sazon con azafran seasoning (if you wanna get fancy with it, add a SMALL pinch of saffron).  Albertsons, Giant, Hmart has this seasoning.
* 2 potatoes cut into chunks
* 1-2 cups of chicken stock as needed (~1 can of stock)

1) Get all ingredients together.  I like to keep my surroundings really clean and clean while I cook.
Pat the chicken dry, season both sides with salt n' peppa and lots of garlic powder!

2) Always brown/sear your meat to get a nice color and crust before you braise it for maximum flava!

3) Meanwhile, chop up your veggies

3) Remove your chicken from the frying pan once it's brown.  Add in your diced bell peppers, onions and the buttload of smashed garlic!  Saute those suckers in the same oil you seared the chicken in on low heat til the onions get translucent.

4) Then add in your cubed tomatoes, a pinch of oregano, and a handful of coarsely chopped cilantro.  I also like to layer flavors by LIGHTLY salting at different times. KEEP TASTING while you cook!

Colors of the Dominican flag--minus the blue.

5) Once the tomatoes and everything cooks down (about 5-10 mins ), add in your sazon con azafran packet.  OOoh and Aaah as you see the beautiful color! 

6) Now add about a tablespoon of tomato paste and the habeneros.  I like it real spicy so in goes all the seeds!! (stand back, don't let crazy habenero steam get into your eyes!)  Stir, cover, let it simmer for 5 mins.

7) Add back your chicken, skin side up, and pour in enough chicken stock to only cover half the chicken.  If you cover the chicken completely, the chicken skin will cook off the meat, resulting in soft fatty chicken skin floating around your stew...ew! Cover and braise for 15 mins on low-med heat.  Remember to stir the bottom of the pan frequently so it doesn't burn and add more chicken stock as needed!!!

8) After 15 mins, add in your cubed potatoes.  (note to self--use a bigger pan you fatass!!) Re-cover and braise til the potatoes are done and thighs are super tender (~15-20 more mins).  REMEMBER, check regularly and stir the bottom !

9) And voila! Ready to EAT! Top it off with more cilantro and you've got a hearty (and healthy) flavorful chicken dish!

Now normal people would stop here..but while the chicken was braising, I started my flan!  Man I loveee flan!  Growing up my mom would make us instant flan out of the box--equally yums but recently I had the lightest, creamiest flan at Jose Andres' restaurant, Jaleo.  I found his recipe online and had to make it.  The idea that I could eat his creamy flan everyday was enough motivation!

Trick to this dish is p-a-t-i-e-n-c-e.  Chef Andres cooks the custard longer and at really low heat so the eggs gently coagulate which produces a silky mouth-feel. The flan separates—the bottom half is creamy, the top more jelled.  Not your dense, rubbery, and marred by air bubbles flan!

Dish #2: Jose Andres' Flan Recipe:

For the caramel sauce:
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1/2 cup of water

For the custard:
* 3/4 cup sugar (I found this to be a little too sweet so whenI made it a 2nd time,  I only used 2/4 cup (next time I might even go for only 1/4 cup).  Just add more caramel to your flan later when you eat if you want it to be sweeter.)
* 1/2 cup half-and-half
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 1 vanilla bean, split  (We ain't rich Jose.  I used 1 1/2-2 teaspoon of good trader joes vanilla extract)
* 1 lemon peel (love this!!)
* 1 cinnamon stick (I just shook in ~1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon spice)
* 3 large eggs
* 2 large egg yolks
* Pre-heat the oven to 275 degrees.

1) Caramel-ing!:  melt your sugar on LOW heat and watch it!  A burnt pan full of sugar is a nightmare! 

If you're scared it'll burn, add in a little bit of water from your 1/2 cup of water.

2) Custard Part 1: while watching the caramel carefully, get your half n' half, heavy cream, vanilla extra, lemon peel and cinnamon into the pot.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, removing the pan from the heat just as it reaches a boil.

mmm..smells so good

Ok, this dinky lemon peel makes all the difference.  You really taste the lightness and freshness it brings to the custard!  Hell, next time, I might just buy the boxed flan and boil in the lemon peel!


3) Custard Part 2:  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks.
I've already got 3 whole eggs in the bowl, now I'm just extracting my 2 whole egg yolks.

4) Carefully & SLOWLY pour the hot cream mixture into the eggs, whisking vigorously in the bowl so you don't cook the eggs and end up with ..sweet scrambled eggs

Caramel's done!

5) Take the hot caramel off the heat and add in the remaining 1/2 cup of water.  The caramel will sputter and release steam and harden.  Pop it back on at low heat and re-melt.  Now you have caramel sauce!!

6) Cool off the caramel sauce a bit then coat the bottoms of the ramekins with 1-2 teaspoons of caramel sauce.

7) Slowly pour the custard on top.

8) Fill hot water midway up the ramekins so you create a slow warm bath during cooking

8) Pop in the oven at 275 for 45-55 mins.

Out of the oven!!! EEK! =D Be patient and fridgerate overnight to let it set and then get ALL over thizzzz!

All packed for lunch! Now thisss gets me out of bed and off to work!

Of course I had to share some with George too...who was busy playing diablo allllll night!

For next time:

1) Pollo Guisado: try it with red and orange bell peppers to add different flavors.  I also ran out of bay leaves this time--add 1 leaf next time, add 2 habs, and make MORE!

2) Flan: get real vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks! yum!


Next up, chipotle chiles chicken... oh yeaaaa!


  1. Ummmm Next Asian Martha Stewart minus the insider trading scandal... IS THAT YOU!?

  2. HAH!!! with straight up crossed eyes!!! =D We need to share recipes!!!