The Recipe

As Susana Contreras from Costa Rica taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, ME October 2012

Serves 8
Cooking time: 1 hour

3 bone-in chicken breasts
1 tsp of any combination of marjoram, oregano, sage, and rosemary
1 shake paprika
3 shakes ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 large rectangular bouillon cube or 2 small squares (cubito Maggi is the popular brand in Costa Rica)
small bunch fresh cilantro
3 layers red onion
1/2 stalk celery
4 garlic cloves
1/2 red pepper cut into 3 pieces

2 Tbsp oil
1/2 red pepper, finely diced and divided into two separate bowls
1 stalk celery, finely diced and added to the red pepper in two separate bowls
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced and added to the celery and red pepper in two separate bowls
4 cups Uncle Ben's enriched parboiled rice (this is the closest she's found to what's in Costa Rica)
2 tsp salt
enough water to cover the rice by 3/4 inch 

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
2 tsp achiote powder or achiote paste (Available at Latin markets and online)
1 can peas and carrots, drained
1 can corn, drained
1/4 cup Salsa Lizano (available at Latin markets and online)

1 bag potato chips
1 jar black bean dip* (from scratch recipe at bottom)
salad dressing

4 yellow plantains with black spots are good
about 1/2 cup oil

Fill an 8 qt. soup pot 2/3 full with water. Add chicken breasts, Italian seasonings, paprika, cumin, cilantro, salt, bouillon cube(s), red onion layers, and 4 garlic cloves. Bring up to a simmer and cook with lid on until chicken is cooked (opaque throughout instead of translucent).

While that is cooking, saute half of each of the diced onion, celery, and red pepper (leaving an equal amount of each for later use) in 2 Tbsp oil in the bottom of the rice cooker pan (or whatever pot you will use to cook rice). When that's softened, add rice, 2 tsp salt and stir. After a minute, add enough water to cover the rice by about 3/4 inch (the length of the top section of her thumb).

When chicken is cooked, strain broth into another container. Let chicken cool to the touch, then pull the meat into strips about 1 inch long. In a large soup pot, saute the remaining diced onion, celery and red pepper in 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp butter. Mix in achiote to turn the color to beautiful orange, and Salsa Lizano. Mix in cooked rice, pulled chicken, peas and carrots, and enough broth to moisten. Don't stir too much or the elements will get mushy. Taste. Add another bouillion cube to boost flavor if you like. Delicious!

Peel yellow plantains and slice diagonally into 1/2 inch thick ovals. Cover the bottom of a saute pan with oil, and heat until any piece of plantain bubbles when you put it in the oil, but not so hot so the oil is smoking. (Medium heat, once oil is up to temperature). Fry both sides of the plantain until bright yellow, a little golden is okay. Let oil drain on paper towel before serving.

Toss salad greens in dressing, slice tomato, garnish each plate with both of these. On each plate serve arroz con pollo, black bean dip (recipe below if you want to make from scratch), potato chips, salad, and fried plantains.

Fried Beans
(Adapted from http://www.guiascostarica.com/recetas/recipes.htm)

2 cans of drained cooked black beans
1 medium onion
1/2 cup oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 garlic finely chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and hot peppers to taste

Fry all the ingredients in the oil except the beans until the onion is crystalized. Blend this with beans in blender. Add a little liquid if necessary, but not too much. You want the mixture thick.

Where to get ingredients:

The achiote and Salsa Lizano and canned black bean dip (called habichuelas molida) are available at Latin stores and online. I get these things here in Portland, Maine, at La Bodega Latina, 863 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04102, (207) 761 - 6661