Pica Pollo
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Pica Pollo

Crispy Dominican fried chicken marinated and fried using Adobo, Sazón y Sofrito.

Jul 02, 2024

By: Franchesca Livraghi | @breakthrukitchen

Fried chicken is like a universal love language, and that’s why in the Dominican Republic we have Pica Pollo! It’s our version of floured, crispy fried chicken - but with a few extra steps compared to American fried chicken.

What makes Pica Pollo different from fried chicken?

Pica Pollo is a crispy fried chicken that gets seasoned in traditional Latin flavors - like Sofrito, Sazón, and Adobo - marinated, and then parboiled before being coated in flour and fried. 

It’s usually served with a few lime wedges and crispy tostones, but they can also be enjoyed with arroz con habichuelas or french fries. I also love having a side of mayoketchup handy because this Pica Pollo is extremely dippable!

Pica Pollo with tostones on a plate

Why is it called Pica Pollo? 

The name Pica Pollo comes from the Spanish words "picar," meaning to nibble or pick at, and "pollo," meaning chicken. In the Dominican Republic, Pica Pollo refers to fried chicken served in pieces that are easy to eat with your hands. This style of eating is similar to "picadera," which are small appetizers also meant to be picked at. 

Marinating helps build flavor

Getting those flavors well incorporated into the chicken before parboiling is going to make all the difference in this recipe. I found that 30 minutes does the trick, but if you can set the chicken in the fridge overnight your Pica Pollo will be incredibly flavorful.

I will usually prep a recipe like this the night before I plan on actually making it. I’ll gather my sofrito, seasonings, and lime juice and mix everything together with the chicken. 

Chicken marinating in bowl

Once it’s all combined, I’ll cover the bowl and stick it in the fridge to marinate overnight. This way, the flavors really get a chance to soak into the chicken, making it super tasty. The next day the chicken is already prepped and all I have to do is get it parboiled and then fried to perfection.

Do you have to parboil the chicken?

Dominican bone-in chicken is almost always cooked prior to actually being fried, like with Dominican Pollo Frito. This step makes sure that the chicken is fully cooked through, since frying large pieces of bone-in chicken like drumsticks, thighs, or wings can leave the inside raw.

Parboiling the chicken pieces also helps to render some of the fat which makes the frying process quicker and results in a crispier texture in the Pica Pollo. Plus, it lets the flavors from the marinade really seep into the chicken.

Chicken with seasoning before getting fried

What if you don’t want to parboil?

If you decide to skip parboiling for your Pica Pollo, you'll essentially follow a method similar to making Chicharrón de Pollo. You'll marinate the chicken pieces, coat them in flour, and fry them until they're golden brown and crispy.

I also recommend using wings for this method. They're smaller, so they will cook through completely during frying.

Scooping up pica pollo after frying with Loisa's skimmer

Recipe tips and tricks

  • Keep the skin on for extra crunch. It’s up to you whether you prefer to keep the chicken skin on, but cooking the chicken with the skin will result in crispier and crunchier Pica Pollo.
  • Make sure the chicken is well coated before frying. Toss the chicken in the flour a few times to get every part of the chicken coated, this is what gives the chicken that crispy, crunchy coating.
  • Make sure your oil isn’t too hot. If the oil gets too hot, the chicken can burn on the outside and stay undercooked inside. Monitoring the oil's temperature and frying the chicken in batches helps make sure that your Pica Pollo is perfectly cooked and delicious every time.