Asopao de pollo, a Puerto Rican chicken-and-rice stew, is one of New York chef JJ Johnson’s childhood favorites, what he calls soupy rice with chicken and vegetables. Just like his grandmother did, Johnson stirs briny, pimiento-stuffed olives into the finished dish.
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5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon adobo seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper
2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
2 (14.5-ounces) cans diced tomatoes
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups medium-grain rice
1 cup thawed frozen peas
1 cup small pimiento-stuffed olives
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
How to Make It
In a large enameled cast-iron Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season the chicken with the adobo and black pepper. Brown the chicken in 3 batches over moderately high heat, 6 to 8 minutes per batch, turning each halfway through. Transfer the browned chicken thighs to a plate.
In the pot, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add the bell peppers, onion, and garlic to the pot, and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until it turns brick red, about 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes and their juice, 2 cups water, bay leaf, and crushed red pepper. Bring to a simmer.
Return the chicken to the pot, stir in the rice, and cook, covered, over moderately low heat until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Stir in the peas and olives, and let stand until heated through, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with cilantro before serving.
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