Here are a couple of my favorites:
Arroz con Pollo (Chicken and rice)
Servings: 6 - 8
3 lb skinless chicken cut into medium pieces
1 Tbsp salt or to your taste
1 tsp dry oregano
5 cloves peeled, crushed garlic
1 large onion, chopped into small pieces
1 small green pepper, chopped into small pieces
4 bay leaves
3 oz green stuffed Spanish olives
1 small can tomato sauce
1 cup fresh cilantro (optional)
2 Tbsp vinegar
1 can beer (Bud / Coors etc.. (not dark))
1 tsp paprika or saffron
3.5 cups water
2.5 cups long grain rice
1 can each: small early peas, pimentos and asparagus
Season the chicken pieces thoroughly on all sides with the first 9 ingredients or first 10 ingredients if adding the cilantro. Place them in a large oven-proof pot or casserole over medium heat and stir well. Add the water, vinegar, and paprika or saffron, and bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally.
Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for approximately 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Add the rice and cook covered for an additional 10 minutes over low heat.
Remove the casserole/pot from the stove and place it into an oven that has been preheated at 325ºF; cook covered for another 15 minutes. Add the can of beer, stirring it into the chicken-rice mixture with a fork. Place the cover back and continue to cook until all the liquid has been absorbed. This should take an additional 5 to 10 minutes, approximately. When rice is dry and fluffy, it is done!
Mix the early peas into the Arroz con Pollo using a fork. Slice the pimentos lengthwise, into strips. Keep covered in the oven or on the stove over very low heat until ready to eat. Just before bringing the Arroz con Pollo to the table, garnish it with the strips of pimento and asparagus spears.
Serve with sweet fried plantains (recipe below) and a simple salad of lettuce, tomato, and thin sliced onion with olive oil and vinegar dressing.
Platanos Maduros Fritos /
(Fried Sweet Plantains)
Soft in the center and crisp outside, this side dish accompanies most Cuban meals.
Vegetable oil for frying
3 medium-size very ripe plantains (skin should be partly black -trust me!) peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick diagonally
Heat 1 inch of oil in a skillet until hot (plantain should sizzle when it touches the oil.) Fry as many rounds as will fit in one layer until golden brown about 2-3 minutes on each side turning with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper tower-lined platter and serve immediately.
A nice chilled bottle of crisp white Spanish wine such as Torres Fransola Sauvignon Blanc 2000 makes for a memorable meal.
Buen provecho, enjoy!