Puerto Rican Chicken and Spaghetti

You may well have guessed by now that I love pasta, I love spicy food, and I love using fresh ingredients as often as possible.  This dish incorporates all of that and then some.  Now, I have made this before, and I have blogged this dish previously, about a year or so ago.  Feel free to look it up.  I reworked it a little bit this time to make it hotter and spicier.  Last time, I was making it for others who are sensitive to heat, so I toned it down.  Not this time!  I love that this dish incorporates chicken and pasta.  It would be just perfect to serve the chicken (roasted with the seasonings) and serve it with rice or a salad, something like that.  I love that it incorporates Latin spices and pasta, which are two of my intense favorites.  It is a perfect dish as far as I am concerned!  Hope you like it (again, maybe), too!

Let's get started.  Here's part of my starting line-up:

Not pictured are a can of fire roasted tomatoes, a large can of Cento tomato puree and a can of corn.

1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves, garlic, finely chopped and separated
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, torn or chopped, and separated
1 tablespoon dried or fresh oregano, separated  (I used fresh oregano in my original post as it was in season)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons chipotle powder, separated
1 teaspoon pasilla powder, separated
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes  (told you this one was hot!)
2 teaspoons ground cumin, separated
1 teaspoon coriander seed, crushed
2 tablespoons smoked, sweet paprika, separated
salt and pepper
1  15 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
1 11 ounce can corn kernels, drained
1 28 ounce can Cento (or your favorite) tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
1 pound of spaghetti (your favorite; I used angel hair)
1 package of 4 - 6 chicken thighs
extra virgin olive oil

Listing out the ingredients is the hard part.  The rest is quite easy.  Add three rounds of extra virgin olive oil to a dutch oven (about three tablespoons) to cover the bottom, add a teaspoon of fresh garlic, and turn the heat to low.  You are going to season the oil slowly.  Meanwhile, add the spices I'd listed to "separate" to a small bowl and thoroughly mix.  Add salt and pepper to the chicken thighs and liberally season the skin side of the chicken with the spice mix while the oil heats and becomes seasoned with the garlic.  This is just something I do, as I love the aroma and the flavor it adds to the chicken as it sears.  When the garlic begins to sizzle, move it off to the side and add the chicken, seasoned skin side down over medium-high heat.  Allow the chicken to sear thoroughly, about four or so minutes.  It should release pretty easily after about four minutes.  If not, allow another minute or two, then turn it.  When the sugars develop and caramelize, it will finally allow the skin to release from the hot pot more easily.  Season the other side before turning, of course.  Same situation applies, sear about four minutes on the bone side. You do Not want to cook the chicken all the way through, as the braising process in the pasta sauce will finish that off.  So good!

Place the chicken thighs seasoned skin side down.

Searing both sides of the chicken.  Looks really good, right?  If only you had smellaputer or smellaphone!!!

After about eight to ten minutes of searing the chicken - remember, you do not want it fully cooked, just a good caramelized crust! - remove the chicken and set it aside.  Try to spoon out half of the fat without removing the burnt-on seasonings on the bottom of the pot.  That's flavor you want to save!  If not, you can do it later, trust me!  Now, the dutch oven is pretty hot, and you want to deglaze the pot and scrape up the burnt-on seasonings.  I added a half cup of red wine.  The wine will sizzle.  Good stuff!  Use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan and get those browned bits up and into the wine.  As the wine reduces, the flavors intensify, so the aroma will be quite happy!

Some for the sauce, and some for meee!  I mean, half a cup to deglaze the pan and then add the tomato products.  Yes, that's it!  Uh-huh!

Once the browned bits have been scraped up and the wine reducing, add the tomato products and the corn.  Stir thoroughly and bring the sauce to a boil.  Add all of the other dried seasonings and half of the chopped cilantro, incorporate well, and reduce the heat to low.  Now snuggle the chicken into the sauce, skin side down, and try to cover the chicken with sauce.  Partly cover and allow to simmer for thirty minutes.  IF you are in more of a hurry, cover and simmer on medium heat for fifteen minutes and boil the pasta and serve within that fifteen minutes.  The Longer you allow the sauce to simmer on low, however, the better the flavors marry.  Just saying.  

Meanwhile, after fifteen minutes, bring a large pot of liberally salted water to a boil. Add a pound of spaghetti and allow to cook until Just al dente, or just before done, about eight to then minutes; maybe twelve for a pound.  Reserve a cup or so of pasta water when the pasta has finished cooking.  Drain the pasta.  Remove the chicken from the sauce (it Should be done by now, the meat practically falling off the bone!) and add the pasta to the sauce.  Welllll, there is the dilemma.  I would add the pasta to the sauce and toss it, but people sometimes like to add sauce to plated pasta, so whichever method you prefer, go for it!  My mom likes the sauce added to the plated pasta, so I indulge her wish.  I also add shaved parmesan and sprinkle the dish with the other part of fresh chopped or torn cilantro for a pop of freshness and color. I LOVE this dish!

 Hope you do, too, but remember!  This one is the hot and spicy version!  

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