Recipe from “Cuisine” magazine.

Bonding with friends: This recipe entry is dedicated to Frances, who misses Puerto Rican food as much as I do. Asopao brings memories of the Asaltos Navideños and las Fiestas de los Reyes Magos.

TIti Toña’s secret recipe, which she shared with me recently, consists of making a Fricase de Pollo and then adding the rice and additional water to it. Very quick, simple and delicious!

If you have the time, and want to learn what makes Puerto Rican cooking so tasty, the recipe I have picked to copy here, will show you  step by step the basic and essential elements of  a great old fashioned classic Asopao.

This recipe for Asopao which was published in the now defunct “Cuisine” magazine on January 1982, as a complement to their feature story: “The Many Pleasures of Puerto Rico”, was the one that inspired me to make it, in a cold, gray, dark wintry day, many years ago. It lightened up the rest of my day. Hope it has the same results for you, any time of the year.

“Asopao for the Puerto Ricans is a nourishing concoction to soothe body and soul. Basically a chicken-rice medley, asopao could be called Puerto Rico’s national dish. It varies in flavor and quality, however, from cook to cook, depending on its other ingredients and the degree of sensitivity employed in handling them. This version, adapted from Carmen Aboy Villdejuli’s cookbook, Puerto Rican Cookery, is one of the best. Lobster, shrimp, or a combination of seafoods can be used for another, delicious variation (see for example, the preceding recipe for El Pescador a la Victor). This recipe makes a large quantity; note, however, that it is a great party dish, and that it is even better reheated the next day.” from Cuisine Magazine.

Makes 12 to 16 servings


1  chicken (about 3 pounds), with giblets
3 1/2  teaspoon salt
2  cloves of garlic
1 1/4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 1/4 teaspoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of dried oregano, crumbled
1/8  teaspoon paprika
2 peppercorns
2 1/2 cups long-grain rice
10 cups water
3 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil
1/3   cup diced (1/4 inch) lean dry-cured ham, such as Smithfield (about 2 ounces)
2 tablespoons diced (1/4 inch) salt pork (about one ounce)
1 green bell pepper, seede, cut into 1/2-inch dice
*3 sweet chili peppers, seeded, chopped
8 fresh coriander leaves, chopped (culantro)
1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
**1   chorizo (about 4 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 jar(4 ounces) pimientos, drained and chopped
8 piemiento stuffed green olives, halved crosswise
1 tablespoon capers, drained
16 asparagus spears, trimmed
1 package ( 10 ounces) frozen peas, drained


1. Cut chicken into parts using sharp knife. Remove legs and cut into drumstick and thigh sections. Remove wings and cut off tips. Remove backbone and breast sections of chicken and cut each in half. Place wings, drumsticks, thighs, and bresats in one shallow dish and backbone sections, wingtips, neck and giblets in another. Reserve liver for other use.

2. Combine 2 1/2 teaspoons of the salt, the galrlic, oil, vinegar, oregano, paparika and ppercorns in mortar: grind with pestle until fairly smooth. Rub half the marinade spice over chicke in each dish. Set aside, covered, at room temperature for about 1 hour.

3. Combine rice with enough water to cover by 3 inches in medium bowl; let soak at room temperature, covered, until ready to use, at least 1 hour.

4. Combine 9 cups of the water, reminging 1 teaspoon salt, and chicken neck, backbones, wingtips, and giblets in large saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat to boining; boil, coverd, 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low; simmer, covered, 20 minutes. Strain through sieve lined with double thickness of dampened cheese-cloth into heatproof medium bowl; reserve broth and chicken giblets seperately. Discard back and neck.

5. Heat lard in large heavy kettle over medium heat until rippling; add ham and salt pork. Reduce heat to low; saute until meats are deep  golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add green pepper, onion, sweet chili peppers, and coriander; saute until vegetables are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, chorizo, all but 1 tablespoon of the pimientos, the olives, and capers; heat to simmering. Add the remaining 1 cup water and chicken wings, breats, drumsticks, and thighs to the kettle; heat to simmering. Simmer, covered, 30 minutes.

6. Add reserved broth and giblets to kettle, heat to boiling. Drain rice; add to kettle. Reduce heat to low; simmer until rice is tender, about 25 minutes.

7.While rice is cooking, blanch asparagus spears in large quantity of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain asparagus thoroughly; cut into 2-inch lenghts. Reserve.

8. Add peas to kettle during last 5 minutes of cooking. Serve asopao inheated large soup bowls, garnished with remining 1 tablespoon chopped pimento and blanched asparagus spears.

TIPS:* 1 long tapered pale-green frying pepper can be substituted.
** Chorizo, a spicy Spanish sausage, is available in Latin American groceries and some supermarkets.