Seco de pollo or chicken stew is another delicious recipe from Ecuador. It is one of dishes that you crave on a day when you want a nice home cooked meal that not only satisfies your stomach, but also gives you that overall happy feeling. This dish is also known as seco de gallina criolla. If it is made with a young chicken it is called seco de pollo, and if it is made with an older hen it is called seco de gallina criolla. Traditionally it was a way to cook those older tougher hens and soften the meat by cooking it slowly in a sauce of onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, herbs and spices.
Seco de pollo or seco de gallina is an Ecuadorian chicken stew cooked slowly in a sauce of beer (or chicha), onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, herbs and spices.
- 6 lbs of assorted chicken pieces
- 4 tbs oil
- 2 red onions, quartered
- ½ red onion, minced for refrito
- 10 whole garlic gloves plus 4 minced garlic cloves
- 2 tsp ground achiote or annatto
- 2-4 cups of beer, adjust based on how much sauce and how thick you want it
- 8 tomatoes, quartered
- 3 bell peppers, quartered
- 1 hot pepper (jalapeno or serrano)
- 1 bunch cilantro, reserve some to add at the end
- 1 bunch parsley, reserve some to add at the end
- 1 tsp oregano
- 2 tsp cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Arroz amarillo or yellow achiote rice recipe
- Fried ripe plantains recipe
- Whole potatoes sauteed in butter
- Avocado slices
- Pickled radish salad or any other small salad
- Blend the beer, quartered onions, whole garlic cloves, tomatoes, bell peppers, hot pepper, cilantro, parsley, oregano and cumin to obtain a smooth puree.
- In a large saucepan or soup pot heat the oil over medium heat to prepare a refrito or sofrito, add the minced red onion, minced garlic and achiote, cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the chicken and brown lightly on each side, add the blended puree mix
- Cook on low heat until the chicken is very tender and the sauce has thickened. Unless it's a hen, the chicken should be tender in less than 1 hour. However it takes longer for the sauce to thicken, so if the chicken is very tender - meat falling of the bones - and the sauce isn't thick yet, then remove the tender chicken pieces, turn up the heat and cook the sauce until it's nice and thick, about 20-30 minutes.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the remaining cilantro and parsley.
- Serve with arroz amarillo or yellow rice and fried ripe plantains. Can also be served with avocado slices, whole potatoes sauteed in butter and a small salad.
The traditional preparation also uses chicha – a fermented corn drink – instead of beer, though most people today prepare it with beer because it is much easier to find and tastes great. Sometimes naranjilla juice is also added. I recommend using a light and mild flavored beer, if not the flavor might be on the bitter side. If that happens, you can offset the bitterness by adding some citrus (orange, sour orange, lemon/lime, naranjilla/lulo juice) until you have the right balance. You can also use a mix of beer and citrus juice, like naranjilla or lulo juice. Other options for the liquid include a mix of half white wine and half orange juice. I find the flavor of chicha similar to a semi-dry apple cider, so apple cider is also another alternative to beer for this recipe.
Seco de pollo is an easy recipe to make, but it can be time consuming if you are cooking a hen or gallina, since you have to wait for the chicken meat to get very tender – about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. A regular pollo or young chicken will cook much quicker, but the sauce might need more time to thicken. In that case, I recommend removing the chicken pieces and increasing the heat to thicken the sauce quicker. Seco de pollo is usually served with arroz amarillo or yellow rice -just add some achiote to the rice preparation -and fried ripe plantains. Those are the two must have sides. I like to also serve it with avocado slices, a small salad, and in this case some whole potatoes sauteed in butter.
Side dish recipes:
Preparation photos for Ecuadorian seco de pollo chicken stew:
La receta en español del seco de pollo esta aqui.