Oswald Rivera

Author, Warrior, and Teacher

Category: poultry (page 1 of 5)



As a self described historian, I’m fascinated by foods from bygone eras. I love checking out old, ancient cookbooks. One of my favorites is attributed to Apicius, a Roman gourmet who lived in the 1st century CE and who’s tome, De re culinaria or De re coquinaria  (On the Subject of Cooking) is one of the earliest cookbooks known to humanity. In it, Apicius notes the dishes enjoyed by the Roman elite during the reign of Emperor Tiberius.

The recipe given, Numidian Chicken (with modifications), is one of Apicius’ entries. Numidia was located in what is today Algeria; and had been a Roman province since 46 BCE. Obviously, Apicius considered their cooking on par with Roman cuisine since he included this recipe in his cookbook. Full disclosure: the recipe does contain ingredients that are hard to find. One of them is lazar root. an ingredient which is now extinct. The other is liquamen, a fish sauce that was used to salt dishes. To create liquamen today, even in a modern kitchen, is a long involved process that includes using fish blood. The only substitute I found online is simply mixing 1 teaspoon salt with 2 ounces white wine. I went with that. If you want it less, you can reduce the salt content to ½ or ¼ teaspoon.

The recipe itself is simple enough. It involves par-boiling a chicken (cut up), then roasting it. The final step is preparing an aromatic sauce with various ingredients and seasonings that are still available today. In Apicius’ time the idea was to pound the ingredients and seasonings. That is, crushing them (I guess in a giant mortar) then cooking to make a sauce that was poured over the chicken. It is not as complex as you think. For instance, instead of pounding the ingredients, I blend them in a food processor. One of the benefits of 21st century living. It just takes patience, and you have a meal a Roman Patrician would savor. Except, you are the Roman gourmand.

The dish goes good with rice, couscous, quinoa or farro. You can add a modern Italian bent to it and serve it over pasta. In our clan, we like it as is with a good crusty loaf of bread. With a fine wine, Italian or otherwise, you have a meal that Caesar and his contemporaries would find delicious—and so will you. Toga is optional.


1 fryer chicken, 2½ to 3 pounds, cut into serving pieces
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup dried dates
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt mixed with 2 ounces white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2.  Rinse chicken pieces under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
  3.  Place chicken in a pan or pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes.
  4.  Remove from water and place in an oven proof dish (we prefer cast iron), sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon of pepper, and bake 45-50 minutes or until tender.
  5.  Meanwhile, place dates, pine nuts, cumin, remaining pepper, coriander seed, vinegar, honey, salt-wine mixture and olive oil in a food processor. Blend and mix well. Transfer to a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. If sauce is too thick, add 1-2 tablespoons of white wine to thin it. Or, if too thin, you can add a bit of starch mixed with water. Here, it’s a judgment call. I find that when I heat the sauce, it comes out on the thick side. Pour over chicken and serve, either in the oven proof dish or a serving platter.
    Yield: 4 servings.



I’m , always on the lookout for a good roast chicken recipe, something out of the ordinary. Well, this is one for the ages: Roast Chicken Moroccan Style. I’ve never been to Morocco but, if I do, this is the first dish I’ll order. It’s a heavenly chicken replete with myriad herbs and spices not common to our version of roast chicken.  And, as an addition I’ve included a saffron rice recipe that goes great with the chicken. So, impress your family and friends with your worldliness. Give them a roast chicken dish that’s simply marvelous. They’ll sing your praises.

Now, traditionally, with this dish, it is cooked in an outdoor grill. This being winter in the northeast, we cooked the chicken in a preheated broiler and it came out just fine.



1 roasting chicken, about 3 to 3¼ pounds, halved or quartered
3 scallions, white parts only, chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1 tablespoon fresh chopped coriander or 1 teaspoon dried
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenned pepper
4 tablespoons butter, softened


  1. Rinse chicken under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Put the scallions, garlic, herbs, salt and spices in a mortar and pound until crushed. Blend with the butter to make a paste. Rub the paste all over the prepared chicken pieces. Leave the chicken to marinate at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
  3. Arrange the chicken pieces skin side down under the broiler After 5 minutes turn and baste with any extra paste or the juices in the boiling pan. Continue turning and basting every 5 minutes for approximately 25 minutes or until the pieces are done. Serve with Saffron Rice (recipe given below).



2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 cups rice
½ teaspoon saffron threads or ¼ teaspoon saffron powder
Chicken broth, about 3 cups or to cover rice
Salt and black peeper to taste
4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 cup finely chopped parsley


  1. In a large saucepan or pot, heat olive oil and sauté onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Stir in rice and sauté until grains are transparent.
  2. Add saffron and chicken broth to cover rice by about ¼-inch. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until rice is tender and liquid absorbed, about 30 to 40 minutes. Add salt and pepper and serve on a platter with tomato and parsley border.
    Yield: 4 servings.


Thanksgiving is over. Now comes the hard part: what to do with the turkey leftovers. You could make mayo and tomato sandwiches for days. Or you can buck up and make something palatable and delicious with the bird remains. Below we give four recipes that will make your turkey meat leftovers glorious. You can serve each over rice or pasta—like in the Turkey Stir-Fry where it is paired with hot noodles. Family and friends will come over just to have the leftovers. In each case, the portions amount to four or more servings.


Note that this is my version of leftover turkey curry. If you want to add other ingredients like turmeric, cinnamon, cloves or ginger to give it a more Indian or Asian flavor, go right ahead.

1/2 stick butter
½ cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 cups leftover turkey meat cut into 1/2-inch chunks or pieces
Salt to taste

  1. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook briefly until combined and starting to bubble, about 3-5 minutes. Do not let the flour darken.
  2. Pour chicken broth into flour mixture. Whisk to combine until smooth. Here, you can adjust for thickness: cook, whisking, until thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Or If you want it thinner, add more broth.
  3. Add curry powder and stir to blend. Stir in turkey meat. Add salt and cook until heated, and serve. Some folks like to add yogurt, about ½ cup, to the curry. Your choice.


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced thinly
2 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 can (14 ½ oz.) stewed tomatoes
1 chicken bouillon cube or 1 packet chicken granules
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups turkey meat, chopped or cut into ½-inch chunks or pieces

  1. Heat oil in a skillet or frypan. Add onions and cook over moderate until and translucent. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more.
  2. Add undrained tomatoes, bouillon cube, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir in turkey meat and cook until bubbling.


2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced into ¼-inch strips
1 cup fresh green beans, cut into ½-pieces (can use frozen but need to be thawed).
2 cups turkey meat, cut into chunks or ½-inch strips
½ cup scallions, chopped into ½-inch pieces
½ cup sliced bamboo shoots
½ cup sliced water chestnuts
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
Pinch each of nutmeg and ground pepper

  1. In a large frying pan or wok, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute.
  2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and cook 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. In this case, serve over hot, cooked egg noodles.
    Note that there are no set rules for stir-frying. You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand.


1 cup rice
1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1  clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
½ teaspoon capers
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
2 cups turkey meet, chopped or shredded
4 cups water

  1. Place rice in 1 cup water and let it soak.
  2. Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add onion, garlic, bell pepper, oregano, capers and tomato sauce. Sauté over moderate heat for 10 minutes.
  3. Drain rice and add to pot. Stir to combine while gradually adding 4 cups water. Bring to a boil and cook on high heat, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  4. Add turkey meat, lower heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes more or until rice is tender. Serve immediately.
    Note that this recipe will make a thick soup or stew. If you want it thinner, add more water as desired.


This recipe I got from an old newspaper clipping years ago, when I was young and spry. The newspaper clipping termed it as “Orsini’s Polla Alla Margarita.” I went online and discovered that Orsini’s was a restaurant on West 56th Street in New York, It was owned by one Armando Orsini  and it had a 31-year run until 1984. Ostensibly, it was a favorite  hang-out in the 1960s of movie stars, celebrities and society people. It’s noted that the place was shrouded in “velvety darkness,” and Mr. Orsini would kiss the hand of his favored female customers.

The restaurant is long gone; but I assume the recipe is from Mr. Orsini’s repertoire. The recipe is very straight forward and it doesn’t give much in terms of the ingredients. For instance, it says “flour for dredging,” “olive oil,” salt and pepper, but it doesn’t give precise measurements. The recipe is for two but, I assume, you can double it for 4 or more.

So, today, eat like you’re a 1960s movie star and are rubbing elbows with the swells. For the record, the dish is delicious and not that difficult to prepare. It makes for a perfect candle-light dinner along with a good wine, red or white, or  even champagne.


2 breasts of chicken, boneless
2 eggs, well beaten
3 tbsp. butter
½ cup white wine
½ cup dry sherry
4 slices mozzarella cheese
flour for dredging
olive oil

Coat chicken breasts in flour and then dip them into the beaten eggs. Fry chicken in hot olive oil until done and then drain on a paper towel. In a large pan, melt butter,  then add salt, pepper, wine, and sherry. Stir ingredients for a few minutes over medium heat until thickened. Then add the chicken breasts and place a slice of mozzarella cheese on each of them. Cover the pan and heat until cheese melts and sauce is reduced.
Serves two persons.


It was in my young manhood that I first encountered a dish called Ragoût. When I saw it on the menu I pronounced it “rag-OUT.” It shows how far I’ve come in my culinary knowledge. Whatever you call it, the French categorize it as well-seasoned meat and vegetables cooked in a thick sauce. In essence, a  main-dish stew. Now, the Italians have their own thing, ragù, which  is a class of Italian pasta sauces made with ground or minced meat, vegetables, and occasionally, tomatoes.

Today’s dish follows the French pattern, though it’s a Lebanese dish,  Yakhnet Dajaj (Chicken Ragout in our vernacular.) For full disclosure, this is  from one of my favorite cookbooks, Lebanese Delights by Raymonda Khoury Naaman. It’s a compendium that features the art of Lebanese cuisine in all its glory. The recipe is a ragout unlike any I’ve ever encountered. It has cinnamon as an ingredient, and it gives the dish a unique taste and flavor. Rice is normally served as the accompaniment to this dish.



1kg (2.2 lbs.) chicken breast (skinned and deboned)
3 tbsp. butter
½ kg (1.1 lbs.) tomatoes, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp. tomato paste
3 cups water
1 kg (2.2 lbs.) potatoes
Salt, pepper and cinnamon as desired


Rinse and cut the chicken breast into medium cubes.

Peel and rinse the potatoes, then cut them into medium cubes

Melt 2 tbsp. of butter in a frying pan. Add the chicken cubes, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Cook until the chicken cubes turn golden in color.

Sautee the potato cubes in 1 tbsp. of butter.

Place the fried chicken in a cooking pot, add the potato cubes, the sliced tomatoes, the tomato paste (dissolved in half a cup of cold water) and the remaining water.  Boil until the chicken is done (about 25 minutes).

Serve hot with cooked rice.


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.
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