Recipe: Dominican Stew Chicken (Pollo Guisado)

Serves 4

I don’t know about you, but I tend to get in a rut with chicken. Growing up in Boston, my mom often just roasted a chicken with salt, pepper and olive oil, letting the natural juices and skin provide most of the flavor. This traditional Dominican recipe is a fun way to mix things up – the meat slowly absorbs the sofrito flavor, as well as hint of lemony freshness – the perfect match for chicken.


4 chicken thighs
4 chicken legs
1 cup sofrito (you could add 2 cups if you’d like more veggies)
1 tsp sugar
vegetable oil (1-2 Tbsp)
juice of 1/2 lemon (a whole lemon if it is dry)

2 Tbsp tomato paste
3/4 cup stock or water


Add the chicken to a large bowl. Toss with sofrito…

… and lemon juice. Let marinate about 30 minutes (overnight is fine, too)

Meanwhile, stir together the stock and the tomato paste.

When ready to cook, heat some oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add sugar and the second it looks like this photo, add the chicken (reserve the sofrito-lemon marinade):

Bam! The sugar is giving the other side an amazing browned crust.

Add in the sofrito-lemon marinade.

Pour the broth mixture on top.

Give everything a stir, turn the chicken, and let simmer about an hour.

Tastes like “good.” And wow, that little bit of sugar really makes the crust scrumptious. A great tip for browning chicken – thanks to the Dominican Republic!

PS. Serve with rice and beans to make a traditional meal called “La Bandera” made up of the colors of the D.R. flag. Nom nom.

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  1. Not a big fan of chicken here, but the photos alone have my mouth water. Tossing the chicken with sofrito, and all of a sudden I am in the mood for some chicken thighs!

    But let me ask this: how is it that the skin looks crispy despite the fact that the chicken had been stewing for an hour? Or is that just an illusion?

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Thanks Jana! The brown skin is thanks to their trick of adding a tsp of sugar to the oil before adding the chicken. You let it caramelized and then, when the chicken hits that dark brown, molten hot sugar, it browns right up and *stays* brown. I love this technique because, you are right, it makes the chicken look scrumptious even after a long stewing. :)

    • traditionally we (Dominicans don’t use Sofrito) we use garlic, green peppers, cilantro, and tomato paste,adobo or salt( pretty much the same as sofrito difference is that it is fresh not pre cut, trust me there’s a difference) we combine these simple ingredients with the chicken, then you put the oil to warm up and we add one tbsp of sugar and wait until it starts turning black then we add the chicken and stir fry for a bit until it gets that nice color all around about 5 minutes then add the water and wait, the water will become somewhat thick and that is delicious with the white rice sort of the gravy my family always fight for some. the burn sugar provides a great deal of the flavor, sour oranges is better than lemon to add to chicken don’t think chicken needs to boil for a whole hour, about 30 to 45 would suffice if it cooks for too long it would break apart.

  2. It looks like you did a great job! You said the chicken itself needed more flavor, but I checked several Dominican and Cuban recipes and you did exactly what they did. (Cubans usually call it Fricasse de Pollo, by the way.) The only things I saw were several recipes recommended covering or half-covering the pot as it stewed, and one recipe had you, five minutes before serving, add a small amount of sofrito and marinade liquid to the stew and then cook for those last 5 minutes.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Thanks Brian! I think the marinade would really have helped. Also – covering it partially is a great idea – it would also keep more juices inside. I was mostly trying to reduce the sauce a bit.

  3. Hi sash…a lot more “professional” was my first impression. Love the little spring deco. Much needed cross-references are fantastic – must have been a lot of work…should go easier now that it is set up. Need to get into it in more detail…however, on superficial perusal – WHAT? is in Keith’s mouth???????? Yuk! I Like your new image…but I cannot deny that I miss the youthful innocent-looking carefree joyful red Wesleyan sweatshirt original photo…Oh well…time marches on as they say… (I may be going WHITE soon and will need a hat more often than not.) ..ha ha. As always….your everlovin’ tell-it-like-it-is-and-let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may mama.
    PS: Owner of FLOUR (the O is an egg being broken and dropped) just came out with her new book….2 1/2 yrs! from the time she signed the contract with publlisher.
    I met her at Boston Athenaeum – she was the only Culinary guest who did her presentation in a starched white cook’s coat…with her own twist – tiny rhinestone buttons. She started out with a bakery in South End – check it out.
    Amazing interesting story…

  4. I used this recipe for my fiance who is from the dominican republic. I am black and german, and not a dominican chef! lol I always try to do things to make him feel like he has his moms cooking again. HE LOVED IT!! it was my first attempt at chicken guisado! I am great with rice and beans and carne…but i was so nervous doing it…I LOVE IT! thank you soo much, I am definitely making it again and again…I used a few of my own variations..I added bay leaves and fresh garlic…in the simmer and used tomato sauce instead of paste! It was delicious!! Thanx for the recipe!

  5. can’t have too many chicken recipes and will definatley be using this, maybe tweeking it a little as well, looks good.

  6. Pappa Mange says:

    Hola me llamo Mange! Que tal? Me gusta comida mexicana. No quieren postre. Adios amigos!!!

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