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Illyanna Maisonet, a former San Francisco Chronicle food columnist (and the first Puerto Rican food columnist for a major publication in the United States), recently published her first cookbook, Diasporican. This easy, full-flavored classic Puerto Rican stew with chicken, vegetables and green olives—called pollo guisado in Spanish—is one of her favorites.
"I make this dish all the time and yet, I never tire of it. Sometimes I use pork, sometimes I use chicken, and very infrequently I use beef. This could easily become a part of your regular weeknight meal rotation." — Illyanna
For the sofrito, in a blender, process the tomatoes until finely chopped. Add the onion and garlic and process until finely chopped and incorporated. Add the bell pepper, cilantro and culantro (if using) and process until the mixture is well combined and mostly smooth.
You can use the sofrito immediately, cover it and store it in the refrigerator for up to 1 day or pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze for up to 6 months.
For the pollo guisado, add the canola oil to a large heavy-bottomed pot and place over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with sazon and adobo, add the chicken and sear for 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the onion and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until translucent. Season with salt and add the tomato sauce and sofrito. Stir in the water, olives (if using), potato pieces and carrots and then scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen all the brown bits. Turn the heat to low and let simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour, keeping an eye on it because the potato will thicken the broth and you might need to add more water.
Season with salt and pepper. Serve the guisada over rice.
Excerpted from Diasporican by Illyanna Maisonet. Copyright © 2022 by Illyanna Maisonet. Used with permission by Ten Speed Press. All rights reserved.