Seco de Pollo
This Ecuadorian classic is a stew of chicken, beer, naranjilla, tomatoes, aromatics, and savory spices that tastes just like childhood.
by Abigail Gomez | @abbychuelas.kitchen
On the weekends growing up, my dad always made home-cooked Ecuadorian meals while blasting salsa music and drinking a beer – he always had to cook with music! He would always tell me, “Watch me cook so you can learn!” Meanwhile, he never measured anything and often took different steps each time he cooked the same dish – I know so many of you can relate to this! I remember my dad taking me to poultry markets in Sunset Park, Brooklyn to buy live chicken every weekend. I would beg to stay in the car because I hated going inside but, hours later I would happily demolish the seco de pollo that he made with his market fare. Seco de pollo (or Gallina) is an Ecuadorian chicken stew that is slowly cooked in a sauce of beer, naranjilla, onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, herbs, and spices – and this recipe features my added touch of Loisa’s Sazón, Adobo and Sofrito.
My dad is from Manabi, Ecuador. Growing up, my dad was the main cook in the home. He learned to cook just by watching my abuelita, then he taught my mother how to cook when they met. ‘Til this day, she still makes his Ecuadorian dishes. Sadly, my father passed away in 2015 when I was 20 years old, due to a fatal heart attack. His passing urged me to want to change my eating habits. Within a couple of years, I found Loisa to replace the adobo and sazón products I grew up with, and I have not gone back since! Cooking his meals and sharing my cultural Ecuadorian dishes means so much to me. And, while my versions of my father’s recipes have my own touch to them, they still always taste like childhood. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do. ¡Buen provecho!
Tips for the Recipe
- Achiote oil is mainly used to give the stew that vibrant red color. If you don’t have achiote oil, you can use achiote powder mixed with oil, or you can just use a neutral cooking oil.
- When you add the sauce, you want to make sure it covers the chicken completely. It will thicken as it cooks.
- I recommend using a light and mild flavored beer. If you find your sauce to be a bit bitter from the beer, you can add a little more freshly squeezed orange or lulo juice to neutralize the taste.
Seco De Pollo
6 - 8
This Ecuadorian classic is a stew of chicken, beer, naranjilla, tomatoes, aromatics and spices that tastes just like childhood.
10 - 12 assorted chicken pieces (drumsticks, thighs, breasts)
2 tsp Sazón
2 tsp Adobo
2 tsp cumin
3 - 4 tsp achiote oil
1 white onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
6 - 8 cloves of garlic
5 - 6 tomatoes, quartered
1 red or green bell pepper, seeds removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bunch cilantro
1 cup beer (or chicken broth, white wine, or chicha)
1 cup naranjilla (juice of naranja agría), lulo juice, or fresh orange juice.
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp Sofrito
1 jalapeño or serrano pepper (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste
Prepare the Chicken
Wash your chicken in a mixture of water and either vinegar or lime juice. After cleaning, remove any excess fat.
Pat your chicken dry and use a knife to create slits into the chicken to better absorb the marinade.
In a larger bowl, add your chicken along with 1 tsp achiote oil, Sazón, Adobo, cumin, salt, & pepper and mix. Set aside while you prepare the sauce.
Prepare the Sauce
Add the onion, garlic cloves, tomatoes, bell pepper, cilantro (reserving a few sprigs for garnish) to a blender. If you are using a jalapeño or serrano pepper, add this as well. Blend until smooth.
Cook the Stew
In a large pot or caldero, heat the remaining 2 tsp of achiote oil. Add the chicken pieces and brown them on both sides, about 2 minutes each side.
Once the chicken is browned, pour the blended sauce over the chicken. Then, add the Sofrito, beer, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Gently mix, then bring to a boil.
Once boiling, reduce the heat to simmer, cover, and cook on low for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until chicken is cooked through and tender.
Taste the sauce and adjust for seasoning.
Serve with your choice of sides, such as arroz amarillo, maduros, avocado slices, and curtido de tomate y cebolla. Enjoy!