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Fidelio’s Cuban Arroz con Pollo – A Time Traveling Guest Post by Prof. Ione D.


Here’s a chicken that won’t be served with rice.


Fidelio Espinoza, from Vaughn Treude’s novel Fidelio’s Automata, is a fiery, handsome Cuban, who enjoys fine authentic Cuban fare. I can envision Fidelio savoring this dish.

I happened upon this particular Chicken dish while studying in Santiago de Cuba. I was honored to stay with Chancellor Perez from the Universidad de Oriente. I found myself drawn to the kitchen by amazing aromas. Lourdes, their cook, had worked for the Chancellor since he was a child. As she was preparing their evening meal, Lourdes shared this family recipe with me.

Even though this recipe is for an experienced cook, the directions are easy to follow. Stay organized, the first part of the recipe, after the marinade goes quickly. I served this meal with homemade bread and cold beer, with coconut custard for dessert. !Qué aproveche!

2 to 3 lbs boneless, skinless, chicken breasts,

  • 4 cloves of garlic (minced)

  • 1 large onion (diced)

  • 1 bell pepper (diced)

  • 1 small can tomato sauce

  • 1 jar red diced pimientos (reserve a little bit for garnish)

  • 1 can peas (reserve about a third for garnish)

  • 1 can asparagus (cut up)

  • ½ tsp. Salt

  • ½ tsp. Pepper

  • 2 Bay leaves

  • 1 tsp. Oregano

  • 3 cups dry white wine

  • 2 cup chicken broth

  • Bitter Orange (powder or marinade)

  • Olive oil

  • 1 tsp. Cumin

  • 3 cups rice (long grain)

  • 1 tsp. Bijol or Goya Seasoning con Azafran

  • 3 or 4 threads of saffron – crushed (this is optional)

1) Coat chicken pieces with bitter orange spice or marinade along with the pressed garlic cloves and marinade for about an hour. (not necessary, but it’s awesome if you have the time)

2) Brown chicken in large frying pan in olive oil – remove to a large pot (or cazuela) after they’re browned.

3) To make the sofrito: sauté the onion & pepper in the frying pan (with the bits of garlic and olive oil) until soft, then add tomato sauce, pimientos, peas, asparagus (all with their liquid) salt, pepper, bay leaf, cumin, oregano, wine & broth.

4) Pour in the rice and add the Bijol (or Goya Seasoning) and saffron to color and flavor the rice.

5) Pour all of this over the chicken in the pot.

7) Bring to a boil, then lower to a fast simmer.

8) Cook on medium-low heat for about 40 minutes, then check it and stir it. Rice should be soft and liquid absorbed. If there’s still liquid, keep cooking, checking, & stirring.

9) I like the rice a little soupy, or asopado, so I like to add 8 0z of chicken broth to the finished product.

10) Pour reserved peas and pimientos as a garnish over the finished arroz con pollo.

1 Comment

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  1. Excellent and savory dish!

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