Guacho de pollo
Chicken wet rice
Last Saturday we celebrated the 496 anniversary of the foundation of Panama “La vieja” (the old). It was founded on August 15, 1519 by Pedro Arias Dávila and other 100 inhabitants. At the time, it was the first permanent European settlement on the Pacific Ocean, replacing the two cities of Santa María La Antigüa del Darién and Acla. Two years later, in 1521, the settlement was promoted to the status of city by a royal decree and was given a coat of arms by Charles V of Spain, forming a new cabildo.
To commemorate this big day in my country, I’m sharing a Panamanian recipe. It’s been a while, I know!
It is call guacho in Spanish and it is one of those words without a translation in English. It is made with rice, chicken (it used to be hen, but nowadays hens are rare to find…so chicken it is! ) and lots of veggies.
Here is the recipe.
- 1 chicken (or hen) cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/4 cup oil (olive or sunflower are fine)
- 1/4 cup Annatto oil*
- 3 scallion sprigs chopped
- 4 tablespoons fresh coriander chopped
- 1/4 cup diced celery
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 2 cups rice**
We will start by seasoning the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic and Worcestershire sauce. Then heat the oil in a big pan and sauté the chicken until golden brown. Take out the chicken and set aside.
Now we are going to make the sofrito. Pour the annatto oil into the pan , add all the vegetables and sauté until tender. Take out about 3 tablespoons of this sofrito and set aside. Add the chicken and 2 1/2 liters of water, bring to a boil and cook at low heat for 30 to 45 minutes.
Check the seasoning and add salt if needed.
Pour in the rice and cook, stirring from time to time until it is tender and very wet. If it is too dry, you may add hot water (and recheck the seasoning).
Serve immediately with a bit of sofrito*** on top, and make sure everyone has a piece of chicken.
*Annato oil probably can be found at some specialized stores, but you can make your own by adding the seeds to a bottle of oil and letting it rest for a while before using it. Annatto will add color and flavor to this dish, a good substitute will be saffron, it taste different, but it’ll do.
**The ideal rice for this dish a Carnaroli, Arborio or Valencia rice, one short-grain rice that will absorbs moisture without completely breaking down (I didn’t, so it took more water and time for cooking)
***For the sofrito, you may add a few tablespoons of tomato sauce, to make it more fluid and add color.