Oswald Rivera

Author, Warrior, and Teacher

Category: poultry (page 1 of 5)


Garlic and chicken is a popular combination, especially in classical cuisine.  You have such favorites as Sautéed Chicken with Garlic (Sauté Dauphinoise) and Chicken Marinated in Garlic oil. But the following recipe beats them all in terms of using the beloved stinky clove—and that is chicken braised in forty, yes, forty cloves of garlic.

One would think that much garlic in a recipe would make for really spicy, pungent dish.  The opposite is true. This dish is rather mild with a pleasant flavor. Once the garlic is cooked it disagrees with no one.

We served this entrée with couscous (we’ve been on a couscous kick lately), but you can use any side dish you want, be it vegetable or a grain. Or it can be paired with just hearty bread or croutons. Also, this dish should be served in the original casserole or baking dish it was baked in.   The glory comes when you transfer the recipe to the table and remove the lid just before serving. A marvelous, delicious aroma of garlic will be released, and the chicken will be tender and fragrant. In our crowd, we like to squeeze the  garlic from their skins and serve it over the chicken and/or side dish.



3-4 pound chicken. washed, patted dry, and cut into serving pieces
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf
Flour-and-water paste containing a little oil (see recipe)


  1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
  3.  Put the olive oil  with the garlic cloves in a baking dish or heatproof casserole. Add chicken pieces and sprinkle with the parsley, chives and tarragon. Stir and turn the chicken pieces several times so that it is well coated with the oil and seasonings.
  4. Seal the lid of the baking dish or casserole with the flour-and-water paste. Place in oven and cook for 2½ hours.
    Yield: 4 servings.


In a small bowl or saucepan, mix two tablespoons flour with 2 tablespoon water until it forms a soft paste. You can add more flour or water to adjust the consistency as needed. Mix in a little olive oil and use to seal the lid.


This recipe has been in my family for ages. And it’s one of the easiest ways we know to prepare chicken. It’s quick and fast. Only the baking time is an issue. Yes, the recipe uses canned soup. I know, purists will howl. But, sometimes, the best dishes are the most simple; especially if they use the most convenient ingredients.

This time around we served the dish with couscous. Any grain will do, be it rice or quinoa. You can also serve it over any kind of pasta, and it’ll still come out great. So, whatcha waitin’ for? Get to it.



1 broiler-fryer chicken, about 2½ pounds
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and ground black to taste
½ cup dry sherry
1 chicken bouillon cube (or packet)
1 can  (10½ ounces) cream of chicken soup, undiluted


  1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.
  2. Rinse chicken under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into serving pieces. Place in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. Let stand 15 minutes to develop flavors.
  3.  Heat sherry and chicken cube in a small saucepan over low heat  stirring until cube is dissolved. Add soup and heat.
  4.  Place chicken pieces in a baking dish or pan (we prefer cast-iron) and pour soup mixture over chicken, covering each piece.
  5.  Place in oven and bake for 1½ hours or until chicken is tender.
    Yield: 4-6 servings.

ARROZ CON POLLO (Rice with Chicken)

Some would argue that Arros con Pollo is the most well known dish in the Puerto Rican/Nuyorican pantheon . To us, it’s more popular than paella. To some, it’s just paella without the seafood and chorizos. Its saving grace is that, though it may take some time to prepare, you can fancy it up by adding sweet peas, pimento strips. assorted olive or whatever else you desire. Some rice with chicken recipes call for saffron, ground cumin or paprika to give the rice its color. We use tomato sauce and achiote.

As noted, our rendition calls for achiote and aji dulce, or sweet chili peppers. Note that the latter are not the common hot peppers associated with Mexican cuisine. Sweet peppers are just that, mild and sweet. They can be found in any Latino or Asian market. If you live in a major metropolitan area you can usually find it in your local supermarket.

Achiote is what we use for giving color to such dishes as yellow rice, pilaf rice, or any dish you want to enliven with a nice yellow-reddish hue. A simple method to prepare achiote is to cook 1 tablespoon annatto seeds, what we call the achiote (also found in Latino/Asian markets), in ½ cup olive oil or vegetable oil. You cook the seeds, stirring frequently, on low heat for 5 minutes. Be aware that if the flame is kept on high the seeds may crack and splatter. During cooking, the oil will turn a bright orange-red, The longer the seeds steep in oil, the darker the hue. Remove from heat, let cool and, using a small strainer, pour into a jar or container. Cover and refrigerate. That’s it.  If you want more achiote, use more seeds.

Back in Spanish Harlem, arroz con pollo was normally served for a special occasion. But, in our family, we ate it frequently. It was one of the foodstuffs that kept the family vibrant and together.

(Rice with Chicken)


3 cups rice
1 3-pound chicken, cut into serving pieces
12 whole black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 ounces salted pork (also called fatback), rinsed and diced
(Note: you can substitute 3-4 strips of bacon, cooked and diced)
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
3 aji dulce (sweet chili peppers), seeded and chopped
½ cup tomato sauce
1 cup chicken broth or bouillon
2 cups water
2 tablespoons achiote (see above)
1 8½-ounce can green peas (drained) or 1 10-ounce package frozen green peas


  1. Wash rice at least three times (until water is clear).
  2.  Rinse chicken pieces under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
  3.  Place peppercorns, garlic, oregano and salt in a mortar and pound until crushed. Blend in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and vinegar.
  4.  Rub chicken pieces thoroughly with the seasoning. In our clan, if we’re in a rush, we let chicken stand for 15 minutes just before cooking. Otherwise, we marinate it for several hours or overnight in the fridge.
  5. Heat remaining olive oil in a heavy kettle or Dutch oven and brown salted pork over moderate heat. Add onion, bell pepper and aji dulce. Sauté until onion is translucent.
  6.  Add tomato sauce, chicken broth and olives. Stir to combine.
  7.  Add chicken pieces plus 2 cups water. Mix, lower heat to moderate-low and cook, covered, for 15 minutes.
  8.  Add the rice and achiote. Add more water to cover contents in pot, if necessary. Mix well and simmer, covered, on low heat until rice is tender (about 30) .
  9. Stir in peas. Cover and cook 10 minutes more.
    Yield: 8 servings.



According to family historians the origin of this dish is Trinidad. My father, during the Second World War, spent time in Trinidad. That my be one of the reasons we acquired this recipe. It calls for curry powder, which is not a common  staple in Nuyorican cooking. That said, the dish is superb, especially for those who like a bit of spice in their dining.

(Curried Chicken)


1 3-to-3½ pounds chicken, cut into serving pieces
2 cloves garlic, peeled
8 black whole peppercorns
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or ¼ teaspoon dried
½ cup olive oil
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 hot chili pepper, diced (optional)
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 cups water


  1. Rinse chicken pieces under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a bowl
  2.  Put garlic, peppercorns, salt and thyme in a mortar, and pound until crushed. Rub chicken pieces with this seasoning. Cover bowl and let stand at least 30 minutes.
  3.  In a large skillet or frying pan, heat olive oil. Add chicken pieces, two or three at a time, and fry until golden. Remove and set aside.
  4.  Drain all but 2 tablespoons of oil from skillet. Add tomatoes, onion, chili pepper (if using) and curry powder. Sauté for 5 minutes.
  5.  Stir in 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Return chicken to skillet. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or until chicken pieces are tender. This dish is best served with bianda (root plans such as yucca, yautía, green bananas, malanga, etc.) or, as we did it, with tostones (friend green plantains).
    Yield: 6 servings.


This is the Puerto Rican method of making sweet and sour chicken. It contains no Asian ingredients, just what’s on hand. You probably have everything you need in your cupboard or kitchen. The dish is normally served with rice (plain boiled or yellow rice). But you can pair it with your favorite pasta, be it  noodles, tubular or ribbons .


2½ pound chicken, cut into serving pieces
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup olive oil
1 can (1 pound) tomatoes, broken up
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1½ teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley


  1. Dredge chicken with flour and salt.
  2.  Heat oil in  a large pan or skillet. Add chicken and cook pieces until brown. Remove and set aside.
  3.  Add remaining ingredients except for parsley, and stir to mix. Return chicken to skillet. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings.


One of the favorite dishes in our family was Pollo con Limón, or Lemon Chicken. We had it often, and we enjoyed it often. It was chicken fillets enclosed in lemon slices, topped with Nuyorican spices, and baked in chicken broth. So, I’m always on the lookout for something similar; and then I came across this version which is much simpler to prepare. Here the chicken is given an Asian edge and soy sauce and honey is added, along with garlic powder and herbes de provence, which is a mixture of dried herbs popular in the cuisine of Provence, a region of southeastern France. Today the mix can be found in almost any market or shop. Also, the dish is broiled, although I’m sure you can bake it if desired.

As noted, this dish is different from our pollo con limón, but just as tasty.



4 chicken breasts, , split, with skin removed
Juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon herbes de provence
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons honey


  1. Sprinkle herbes de provence, lemon juice, garlic powder, soy sauce and honey on chicken.
  2.  Broil 15 minutes and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings.


This is what my Uncle Phillip called one of them “Frenchy-fied” dishes, Sauté Dauphinois. It’s nothing more or less than  Sautéed Chicken with Garlic. So, want to impress family and friends? Tell ’em to come over for Sauté Dauphinois.

What’s great about this recipe is that it contains a lot of garlic. In the Rivera Clan, we love garlic. Count Dracula has nothing over on us. Yet the garlic does not overwhelm the dish. It complements it in a delightful way.

Despite the highfalutin moniker, this is very simple dish to prepare. Season the chicken, brown in olive oil, add the garlic (unpeeled) and cook until chicken pieces are tender. When the chicken is served, the guests should  squeeze the garlic cloves (which become as soft as butter) out of the skins and onto their plates and eat the cloves along with the chicken. With some crusty bread and good wine, this meal is heavenly. In terms of wine, if you prefer a white, then Chenin Blanc or Chardonnay will do the trick. If you go for a red, then a Merlot, Pinot Noir or Beaujolais is a good combo. Hell, you can have this dish with beer, if you want. Go with whatever pleases the palette.

(Saute Dauphinois)


1 chicken, 2½ to 3 pounds, cut into small serving pieces
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
½ teaspoon dried chives
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
12 garlic cloves, unpeeled
¼ cup  chopped fresh parsley


  1. Season chicken pieces with salt, pepper, oregano and chives. Sprinkle with vinegar. Heat oil in a large pan or skillet and cook chicken over high heat for 5-6 minutes, turning pieces from time to time. Reduce heat to low, cover pan or skillet and let chicken cook for another 15 minutes.  Remove the lid occasionally to turn the pieces.
  2.  Add garlic cloves and cook for another 20 minutes or so or until chicken is tender. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve. If desired, you can transfer chicken to a warm platter and sprinkle with parsley. Either way is okay. It just depends on your proclivities. Some like it served from the pan or skillet. Others prefer the table platter for more formality.
    Yield: 4 servings .




I am a partisan of chicken wings. My wife makes them dredged in flour and then fried. The other way is to use bread crumbs instead of flour. Each method has its following. So, I’m always on the lookout for good and unique recipes for this favorite. Israeli Chicken Wings are my newest passion. I got this recipe from a cookbook published in 1982, Cooking Time Around the World. These were recipes compiled by the International Council of Jewish Women, who published the book. The book contains recipes from around the world, even from such places as Finland and Zimbabwe. From Israel, they catalogued this majestic dish.

You will notice that the recipe calls for “parve ” cream.  Jewish dietary law does not allow for the consumption of meat together with milk products. Now, parve heavy cream can be made from such items as rice milk or soy milk. You can get parve cream at any kosher Jewish market. If you don’t belong to the tribe then regular heavy  cream will do.   Also, these chicken wings are not fried. They are baked in a marvelous white gravy. When we did it, we served it with potatoes (cooked in butter and chives).  You can substitute rice or any favored grain, or pasta. You won’t be disappointed.


12 chicken wings
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
pinch of sweet red paprika
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon flour
½ cup water
½ cup white table wine
½ cup parve cream
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Clean chicken wings thoroughly. Fry onion in oil until golden brown. Add chicken wings and brown on both sides. Add spices and crushed garlic, sprinkle with flour and stir. Add all liquids, stirring constantly. Simmer until chicken wings are very tender. Serve warm with freshly chopped parsley.

Yield: 6 servings





In our family, Pollo Empanado or Breaded Chicken has long been a favorite. It’s one of the poultry recipes that is featured in my first cookbook, Puerto Rican Cuisine in America (Running Press). Over the years we have experimented by using such ingredients as soy sauce, mustard, and salad dressing for dipping the chicken. But we always come back to the ubiquitous egg-oil mixture. For those who worry  about that bugaboo, cholesterol, egg whites can be used. The flavor won’t be the same. And let me state that in recent years, some studies (as in one from the Mayo Clinic) now state that the cholesterol in eggs doesn’t seem to raise cholesterol levels the way other cholesterol containing food do, such as trans fats and saturated fats. We’re back to square one: one study study says one thing and another may say something else. Seems more research is needed. So, what else is new? Just enjoy the recipe.

(Breaded Chicken)


2 boneless chicken breasts, about 2 pounds
1 egg, beaten
¾ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 cup dry bread crumbs
Salt  and ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
¼ cup butter


  1. Rinse chicken beasts under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
  2.  Place  chicken breasts between 2 sheets of wax paper and pound thin to about ¼-inch thickness.
  3.  In a bowl, combine egg, ½ cup olive oil, vinegar and garlic. Spread dry bread crumbs on a plate and season with salt, pepper and oregano.
  4.  Dip the chicken in the egg-oil mixture, and then dredge in bread crumbs, turning gently to coat.
  5.  Heat butter and additional ¼ cup olive oil in a large skillet or frying pan. Cook cutlets over medium heat until crusty and brown (around 3 minutes per side). Drain on absorbent paper towels.
    Yield: 4 to 5 servings.


This is my personal recipe for Pesto Chicken. I guess you could call it Pesto Chicken Nuyorican style. It’s different from other pesto chicken recipes in that we use a whole chicken, cut up, and not chicken breasts as is done in most recipes. And, the chicken is steamed not fried nor baked. This makes it unusual, and scrumptious in its finale.

This dish is best served over pasta (we used bucatini). But you can also use any preferred grain, be it rice, couscous, faro, quinoa, ext. With a salad, some good Chianti, and some crusty bread, you have yourself a banquet. Disfrute.



1 3 to 3½ pound fryer chicken, cut into serving pieces
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ cup water
½ cup dry white wine (like Chablis or Pinot Grigio)
3-4 cups fresh basil leaves (depending on  how much sauce you desire)
3 tablespoons pine nuts
5 cloves garlic, peeled
½ cup olive oil
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (can also use Asiago or Pecorino Romano)


  1.  Rinse chicken pieces under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
  2.  Place in a large pot, skillet or Dutch oven. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and oregano, making sure all pieces are well seasoned.  Add red wine vinegar and mix to combine.
  3.  Add water and white wine to the chicken. Bring to  boil, cover and simmer on medium-low heat until pieces are tender (about 40 minutes).
  4.  While chicken is cooking, combine basil leaves, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor and process until very finely minced. With the machine running, add olive oil in a small stream and process until the mixture is smooth. Add cheese and process briefly, just long enough to combine.
  5.  Drain any liquid that’s left in the chicken pot. Add pesto to chicken, mix well and serve over pasta or grain.
    Yield: 6 servings or more.


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