Chicken

noche buena menu

Cuban Noche Buena Food To Make This Year

Enjoy a traditional Cuban feast with these Noche Buena recipes made from scratch. Noche Buena in Spanish means “Good Night.” And it is a good night surrounded by friends, family and fantastic Cuban food!

I’ve put together a Noche Buena menu for you with traditional Cuban dishes, desserts and more. I hope you enjoy making these for Christmas!

Our traditional Cuban Christmas Eve Dinner includes:

Lechon Asado

Roast Pork

Congri

Black Beans & Rice

Yuca with Mojo

Starchy Yuca Vegetable with Garlicky Citrus Sauce

Caramel Flan

Here are all the Cuban food recipes you need to make the best Noche Buena feast this Christmas!

¡Buen Provecho!

Cuban Roast Pork “Lechon Asado”

Cuban Roast Pork

Cuban roast pork is as Cuban as it gets, folks. This traditional Cuban dish is known as lechon asado in Spanish, and it’s the go-to feast for every special occasion, especially Noche Buena. It’s served for Christmas and, in many Cuban homes, for Thanksgiving, too! The pork is marinated overnight or even longer and then cooked until it falls off the bone and the skin is super crispy.

The Best Cuban Congrí Rice (Black Beans And Rice) 

Congri Rice

Congri is my favorite Cuban side dish to make for Noche Buena. This is Mami’s best beans and rice recipe and the one that her kids and grandkids want to learn and pass down. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, my brother calls from North Carolina asking how to make it. It’s the best! But some folks prefer to have their black beans and rice cooked separately. If you’re one of those, I’ve got a black bean recipe for you as well.

Yuca With Mojo Is A Must For Noche Buena

yuca with mojo

Yuca with mojo is the traditional cuban side dish to serve with Cuban roast pork. In fact, yuca is preferred over the usual fried plantains. As much as we love our fried maduros and tostones, yuca and roast pork are a Cuban power couple. And, of course, you have to make enough for yuca fries the next day! 

Caramel Flan Is The Best Cuban Dessert For Noche Buena

caramel

Caramel flan is, hands-down, the most popular Cuban dessert, and for a good reason. It’s a luscious, creamy, special-occasion-worthy dessert that is super easy to make. This is the dessert that’s on every Cuban table for Noche Buena

Noche Buena Menu

Other Traditional Cuban Dishes To Make For Christmas, Even Before Noche Buena

We also love to make goodies like Cuban shortbread, coconut balls, guava bars and Cuban eggnog with sweeteneded condensed milk and rum. I invite you to try some of these Cuban holiday favorites! But you don’t have to wait until Christmas Eve to enjoy these. Make them a few days early and start your Noche Buena festivities early🎄🎅

Torticas De Moron (Cuban Shortbread) Is Melt-In-Your-Mouth Delicious

torticas de moron

Torticas de Moron are a wonderful Cuban shortbread cookie that’s simple to make and so delicious! The shortening makes this cookie perfectly crumbly and once you bite into it just melts in your mouth. And it’s made even more irresistible with a dollop of guava paste! It’s a great addition to your Noche Buena menu, along with the Cuban flan, of course!

Coconut Balls Are Quick, Easy And So Adorable!

Coconut Balls

These coconut balls are such a Cuban treat. First of all, we LOVE coconut, so of course, we would make these. And if your an Almond Joy or Mounds fan, you’ll love these dipped in chocolate and topped with coconuts or almonds. They make great holiday gifts, too.

Boozy, Sweet Crema De Vie (Cuban Eggnog) Is So Good!

crema de vie

Cubans have their own version of eggnog known as crema de vie, and if you have a sweet tooth, you’ve got to try it! The Spanish translation for Crema de Vie is cream of life, and I can see why it’s called that. It tastes a lot like spiked flan because it has very similar ingredients. I like to have a little eggnog as I’m cooking up my Noche Buena feast, so I make this a few days early. You also need to let it sit for a day, so definitely make it early!

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas Eve celebration surrounding by family, friends and Christmas joy. ¡Feliz Navidad!

Noche Buena Menu
chicken croquettes

Chicken Croquettes Are A Super Popular Cuban Appetizer

Chicken croquettes are the bomb! (Or, as my kids would say… FIRE!) If I could only eat one Cuban appetizer for the rest of my life, I think I would have to go with chicken croquettes! Crunchy on the outside with a creamy chicken filling made with bechamel sauce, these hearty little darlings travel well, can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, or by the tray full at parties. Cubans wouldn’t know how to throw a party without these! 

chicken croquettes

Croquettes are an all-star Cuban appetizer. You’ll find them at every Cuban birthday party, baby shower, happy hour, or holiday gathering. And they come in so many flavors, including chicken, ham, fish, meat, or cheese. Today, we’re going to zero in on chicken croquettes because I had leftover chicken, and this chicken croquette recipe is the best way to use up the chicken. That’s the other thing about croquettes. They are a great way to use leftovers!

chicken croquettes

What Are Chicken Croquettes

Croquettes are made with minced, seasoned meat that’s incorporated into a bechamel sauce and then breaded and fried to make delectable tapas food. They are great by themselves, with saltine crackers or in a sandwich with lettuce and tomato. 

Known as croquetas in Spanish, these tasty appetizers are originally from French but became a tapas favorite in Spain. From there, they made their way to Cuba and the rest of the Latin American and Caribbean region. Chicken and Ham croquettes are very popular for parties because just about everyone likes these flavors. But you can find them in all kinds of flavors at Cuban bakeries and restaurants, including codfish and chorizo flavors. Or a combination of flavors like ham and Manchego cheese. 

chicken croquettes recipe

How to Make Croquetas de Pollo

The key component to making croquettes is the bechamel sauce. Once you’ve got that down, the rest is relatively easy. You need just a few basic ingredients:

  • Finely chopped or minced chicken
  • Finely diced onion
  • Butter
  • Crushed garlic
  • Flour
  • Milk
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooking wine
  • Parsley (optional)
  • Breadcrumbs and eggs for the coating
  • Frying Oil 

I usually make these croquettes with leftover rotisserie chicken, but you can use any chicken leftovers. If you don’t have leftovers, you can poach two chicken breasts until cooked through and let cool. If you’re using the leftover rotisserie, save the drippings to add the sauce, they are great for seasoning your chicken croquettes. Pulse the chicken meat in a food processor until finely minced, then set aside.

Heat the butter in the skillet and cook the onion and garlic until softened but not browned. Blend the milk, flour, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and add to the skillet. Cook until the sauce thickens. You should be able to run a spoon across the bottom of the pan and leave a path. Add the chicken, pan juices, and cooking wine and mix to combine. My mom likes to use Move the mix to a bowl and bring it to room temperature and then refrigerate overnight. You must give the mixture a chance to rest and chill. If the mix is not thoroughly chilled, the croquettes will burst open when you fry them. That’s no bueno.

The next step is the coating. Beat two eggs in a bowl and add 2 cups of cracker meal to another bowl. Take about 2 tablespoons of the chicken croquette mix and shape into a ball, then slightly flatten into an oval. Do this with all the mixture. Once you have the croquettes shaped, dip them in the egg and then the breadcrumbs and repeat the process. 

chicken croquettes

Once they are all coated, you can store the chicken croquettes until you’re ready to eat them, or you can fry them right away. I like to chill them for about an hour before I drop them in the frying oil. This way, there’s less of a chance of them bursting as you cook them. The bursting happens because the interior of the chicken croquette is already cooked. As the outside gets heated and cooked, the internal temperature rises. If it’s not cold enough, the inside can overheat and burst. Fry them in hot oil until they are golden on each side.

Croquettes are best when you eat them while they are still hot because the outside coating is crunchy. But they keep very well and can be eaten at room temperature or even heated up later. That’s what makes these tasty little Cuban appetizers such a crowd pleaser!

chicken croquettes

Want more Cuban appetizer recipes? Check out my Cuban Tapas Party recipes!

The Versailles Restaurant Cookbook

Looking for a Good Cuban Cookbook?

I love the The Versailles Restaurant Cookbook affiliate link! The recipes are very authentic and traditional, similar to what I grew up eating. They have several croquette recipes including ham and codfish croquettes, plus other popular Cuban recipes.

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chicken croquettes recipe

Chicken Croquettes Are A Super Popular Cuban Appetizer

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 1518 1x
  • Category: appetizer
  • Method: frying
  • Cuisine: cuban

Description

Chicken croquettes are crunchy on the outside with a creamy chicken filling made with bechamel sauce. They make a great snack or appetizer.


Ingredients

Scale

2 Cups Finely chopped or minced cooked rotisserie chicken (reserve pan drippings)

1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon crushed garlic

3/4 cup flour

1 cup milk

Dash nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon cooking wine

1 tablespoon fresh minced parsley (optional)

Coating
2 eggs

2 cups cracker meal

2 cups vegetable oil


Instructions

Prep

Finely chop the onion and crush the garlic. Mince the parsley, if you’re using.

Pulse the chicken.

Blend the milk, flour and spices in the blender. 

Cook

Heat the butter in the skillet over medium heat and cook the onion and garlic until softened but not browned.

Add the milk mixture and cook until the sauce thickens. You should be able to run a spoon across the bottom of the pan and leave a path.

Add the chicken, pan juices, and cooking wine and mix to combine. Taste and adjust seasons as desired. I sometimes add a little salt or pepper, depending on the seasoning used in the rotisserie chicken.

Chill

Move the mix to a bowl and bring it to room temperature and then refrigerate overnight. 

Coat

Beat two eggs in a bowl and add 2 cups of cracker meal to another bowl. Take about 2 tablespoons of the chicken croquette mix and shape into a ball, then slightly flatten into an oval. Do this with all the mixture. Once you have the croquettes shaped, dip them in the egg and then the breadcrumbs and repeat the process. Chill the croquettes for an hour before frying. 

Fry

Heat the oil over medium heat and test with a bread crumb before dropping in the croquettes. Make sure to fully coat the croquettes with the oil and fry until golden on each side. Gently turn them to keep them from bursting. Fry them in small batches so you don’t crowd them. It takes about 6 minutes too fry each batch. Drain on paper towels to cool a bit and then devour!


Notes

You must give the mixture a chance to rest and chill. If the mix is not thoroughly chilled, the croquettes will burst open when you fry them. 

You can also freeze at this point. They freeze well and can be kept in a ziplock bag or container for up to 6 months. You can fry them frozen, too. 


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 2 croquettes

Keywords: Chicken Croquettes, Chicken Croquettes Recipe, How to Make Chicken Croquettes, Cuban Appetizers, Cuban Appetizers, What are chicken Croquettes, croquettes, croquetas, croquetas de pollo

double crust chicken pot pie

Double Crust Chicken Pot Pie Cuban Style Is The Best

This double crust chicken pot pie is like no other you’ve tasted! Instead of a cream-based filling, it has a tomato base with raisins and olives. This is a Cuban version of chicken pot pie called pastelón de pollo. You can usually find pastelón de pollo at Cuban bakeries and some Cuban restaurants. In fact, this Cuban recipe is from the famous Versailles Restaurant on Calle Ocho in Little Havana. 

Why is the Versailles Restaurant so famous? Because it’s where every politician courting the Cuban vote goes to have their photo op! It’s also where Cubans gather whenever anything happens. Of course, it’s not the only place, but certainly one of the most popular restaurants for Cubans to hang out.

The restaurant is a Cuban landmark, established in 1971 in Little Havana and still thriving today. I love to go there whenever I’m in the neighborhood. The Cuban food is delicious and feels so much like home. ?

I recently gifted myself a copy of The Versailles Restaurant Cookbook, and this chicken pot pie is one of the Cuban recipes that really caught my eye. While I love pastelón de pollo, it’s not something I had ever made at home. So, of course, I had to give this recipe a try!

What Makes This Chicken Pot Pie So Good

This pie is packed with chicken, and it’s very savory! American-style chicken pot pie is like a chunky, creamy soup in a pastry. This double-crust chicken pot pie is not soupy at all. It’s more of a meat pie. It tastes a lot like chicken fricassee, which is a fantastic Cuban chicken stew. And just like the stew, it’s so delicious the second day!

Ingredients For This Double-Crust Chicken Pot Pie

The ingredients for this Cuban chicken pot pie are very simple. You need:

  • Chicken Breast
  • Onions, Peppers, Garlic
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Raisins and Olives
  • Cooking Wine 
  • Oregano, Bay Leaf, and Cumin
  • Refrigerated Pie Crust

Except for the pie crust, these are the usual ingredients you find in most Cuban dishes. While this double-crust chicken pot pie recipe calls for chicken breast, I would prefer it with a mix of chicken thighs and breasts. I find chicken breast to be a bit dry. But I have to say the final dish, made with the chicken breast, was very moist and flavorful. The reason for this is that you cook the chicken in the delicious sauce for forty-five minutes before you bake it in the oven. 

This chicken pot pie would be a good potluck dish to make for your next get together. It can served as an appetizer or a main dish. It’s good at room temperature too. I sometimes even eat it cold, but that’s just me. My kids think I’m weird that way.?

A Word About The Crust In this Chicken Pot Pie

My one beef about this recipe is that it calls for refrigerated pie crust. But traditional pastelón de pollo uses a different type of dough. Unfortunately, the Versailles Restaurant Cookbook did not provide their dough recipe. They explained that the process was too labor-intensive for a home kitchen. So, while it was good with the refrigerated crust, it would have been even better with the traditional crust. Perhaps The Versailles Restaurant didn’t want to part with their secret recipe? I’ll forgive them for that since the recipe they did provide was so tasty!

The Versailles Restaurant Cookbook

What are some other recipes to try from this cookbook?

I love the The Versailles Restaurant Cookbook! The recipes are very authentic and traditional, similar to what I grew up eating. Their ropa vieja, picadillo, and chicken fricassee were just like my mom used to make. 

The cookbook had a comprehensive mix of appetizers, soups, main dishes, and desserts and covers most Cuban menu items. If you’re looking for an all-around good Cuban cookbook, I highly recommend this one! Some popular Cuban recipes to try include croquettes, which come in ham, chicken, and codfish varieties. And you’ve got to try the desserts! They, of course, have all the traditional Cuban desserts like flan, arroz con leche and bread pudding. But another one that’s worth the effort is the tres leches. Yup, you can expect a few more Versailles recipes soon, including the tres leches!

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cuban chicken pot pie

Double Crust Chicken Pot Pie Cuban Style Is The Best

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: dinner
  • Method: baking
  • Cuisine: Cuban

Description

This double crust chicken pot pie is like no other you’ve tasted! Instead of a cream-based filling, it has a tomato base with raisins and olives. This is a Cuban version of chicken pot pie called pastelón de pollo.


Ingredients

Scale

¼ cup olive oil

½ cup chopped yellow onion

4 garlic cloves finely minced

½ cup chopped red bell pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 ½ teaspoons salt, or to taste

1 whole skinless, boneless chicken breast (about 1 ½2 pounds), coarsely chopped

¾ cups tomato puree

¼ cup cooking wine

¼ cup golden raisins

¼ cup chopped green olives

2 refrigerated pie crust

1 beaten egg with 2 teaspoons sugar (sugar is optional, but it adds a bit of sweetness to the crust)


Instructions

Prep

Chop the chicken breast and set aside.

Chop the onion and pepper and mince or crush the garlic cloves. 

Cook:

Heat ¼ cup of olive oil in a pan and sauté the onion, garlic and pepper until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the spices and half the salt and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken and cook about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Add the wine, tomato puree, raisins, and olives. Add the remaining salt, if needed. Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 1 ½ hours.

While the chicken is cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a pie pan and place one of the pie dough discs in the pan and gently mold. The recipe calls for trimming the pie crust to fit the pie pan, but I found that some of the dough shrinks a bit, so I did not trim. With the tines of a fork, poke a few holes on the bottom and sides of the pie dough. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool.

Once the chicken mixture is done, let it come to room temperature. Mash any large bits of chicken with the back of a spoon to make sure all the pieces are very small. 

You can also make the chicken mix the day before. If you decide to make the chicken the day before, don’t precook the bottom dough until you’re ready to bake the chicken pot pie. 

Bake:

Preheat the oven to 350. Place the cooled chicken mixture in the pie plate and cover with the second pie dough. The recipe calls for folding the edges down and over the bottom dough, but you can crimp the edges the way you would a regular pie, if that’s easier. 

The recipe calls for baking for about 20 – 25 minutes, but I ended needing to cook the dough for about Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes to get the crust golden. And I use a gas oven.

Once you take it out of the oven, let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. May be served hot or at room temperature. 

 

 

 



Notes

This recipe makes 6-8 lunch or dinner portions or 16 appetizer portions. 

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 slice

Keywords: chicken pot pie, double-crust chicken pot pie, chicken pot pie with pie crust, chicken pot pie recipe, chicken pie, dairy free chicken pot pie, best chicken pot pie, pastelon de pollo

Chicken Fricassee Cuban Style

Easy Chicken Fricassee Cuban Style (Fricasé de Pollo)

I grew up cooking Cuban food. And this chicken fricassee recipe is the first one I mastered when I was a teenager.  What is a fricassee? It’s more a method of cooking than an actual dish. Fricassee is a French word that means cut up pieces of meat sauteed and then simmered in a sauce. This method is also popular in Spain.  

And it’s from there that fricassee found its way to the Spanish Caribbean. Cuban Chicken Fricassee (Fricasé de Pollo) has a tomato base with dry wine.  

My first fricassee used turkey instead of chicken and I was so proud of it too!  Growing up Cuban in Miami, a traditional turkey dinner wasn’t something I did until I was married to my very American husband. I remember thinking I had bitten off more than I could chew as I was cutting up the turkey, but it came out delicious.  Mami tried to take the credit for the turkey fricassee since she’s the one who taught me, but I wouldn’t let her. Lady, it was my trophy turkey! 

chicken fricassee cuban

Some Changes To Mami’s Original Chicken Fricassee Recipe

I used to make this with a cut-up fryer chicken, just like Mami used to make. Nowadays I only use skinless chicken thighs. I find chicken breast to be too dry and drumsticks not as meaty.  

My Cuban Chicken Fricassee recipe includes carrots and saffron which my Mom didn’t use. Saffron is not traditional and it’s a pricey spice, so it’s totally optional. I like using it because it gives it such an amazing flavor, similar to paella. I found myself compulsively tasting the sauce when I already knew it was good. So super tasty!!

Some recipes also call for raisins but my crew doesn’t like them. I would definitely recommend you try it at least once with the raisins to see if you like it.  

Cuban chicken fricasee

This dish is usually served over white rice, but you can also use brown rice. Or serve it as a stew with some crusty bread for dipping.  Make enough for leftovers because this recipe is even better the second day. When my kids were little, I would shred the chicken and mix it with rice. The kids loved it! ¡Buen provecho! 

As a teenager, I was so annoyed when my mom tried to take credit for my accomplishments, like making Turkey Fricassee from scratch. I didn’t want to be in her shadow. But now that I’m a parent, I understand my mom was simply excited that I succeeded with her help. Parenting can be so hard sometimes, it’s exhilarating when our kids succeed because that means we also succeeded as a parent. Thank you so much Mami, sorry I was such a brat about the fricassee.

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How to Make Chicken Fricassee Cuban Style

How to Make Chicken Fricassee Cuban Style

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 50
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Cuban

Description

Chicken Fricassee Cuban style is a savory chicken stew served over rice. It’s a very popular Cuban dish that’s easy to make. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 pounds skinless chicken thighs with bones (you can use a mix of chicken pieces including thighs and breast if you prefer) 
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced 
  • 1⁄2 cup red bell pepper, diced 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided 
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed 
  • 2 teaspoons oregano 
  • 2 teaspoons cumin 
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • pinch of saffron threads (optional) 
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes 
  • 1⁄2 cup cooking wine (vino seco)
  • 3 tablespoons Spanish olives 
  • 3 tablespoons raisins (optional) 
  • 1 cup peeled potatoes cut into 1-inch cubes 
  • 1 cup peeled carrots cut into 1-inch sections

Instructions

  1. Spices: Mix the spices, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. 
  2. Prep: Cut the onions and peppers and crush the garlic. 
  3. Clean and season the chicken: Trim the fat off the chicken. I use kitchen shears for this, it’s so much easier. Pat dry the chicken on paper towels. Sprinkle each chicken piece with the spice mixture and set it aside while you dice the onions and peppers and crush the garlic.  
  4. Brown the chicken: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown chicken pieces in batches on both sides, 2–3 minutes per side. Use another tablespoon of olive oil for the second batch, if the pan is dry. You don’t want the pieces to stick to the pan. Transfer the browned pieces to a platter and leave the fat in the pan. 
  5. Sautee onions: Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan and saute onion, pepper, and garlic over medium heat until softened about 5 minutes. 
  6. Add tomatoes and spices: Add crushed tomatoes, vino seco, bay leaf, and a pinch of saffron and simmer for 5 minutes.  
  7. Add chicken: Add the chicken to the pan again and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, turn over and add the carrots, cook another 5 minutes. 
  8. Add the vegetables: Add the potatoes, olives, and raisins and cook for 20 minutes more.

Serve over rice or with Cuban bread for dipping into the sauce! 



Notes

I used to cook this with a regular dutch oven pot, but I recently purchased a Cuisinart Cast Iron Porcelain affiliate link Casserole and I love it! It doesn’t stick and it’s easier to clean than I expected. And I love how even it heats and how pretty it looks. I’m linking to the one I used for this recipe. 

Keywords: chicken fricassee cuban, chicken fricassee, cuban chicken fricasee, what is chicken fricassee

Paella Pan

Paella Mixta Is The Perfect Party Food

Paella Mixta is party food! Actually, Paella Parties are very much a thing in Miami. Catering companies dazzle party guests with their paella pan the size of a kiddie pool and proceed to cook it right in front of them like it’s no big deal. I love Miami! 

Paella is originally from Spain, but my recipe is Cuban Paella (of course!) made with chicken, shrimp, and chorizo. As much as I loved Paella, I had never made it myself so I invited Mami to a paella party in my kitchen. While it had been years since she’d made paella mixta, she still had it! I loved watching my mom in her element, in the kitchen, cooking up a storm and telling me what to do! She does love to tell me what to do ;-) 

chicken and shrimp paella

I’ve since made this paella mixta many times. It’s my daughter’s favorite! Recently my son helped me make this dish, and he wanted to make a few edits to my recipe. I was very resistant initially, but seeing as he’s a professional cook, I gave in. The end result was much tastier! 

Not gonna lie. I’m both excited and annoyed that his is better. So here are a few things he did to level up my paella recipe.

My Son’s Edits To My Cuban Paella Mixta Recipe

  • He used ground chorizo instead of sliced. This added more flavor and color to the whole dish. 
  • Instead of adding paprika to the sofrito, he seasoned the chicken and shrimp with the paprika and salt and then added more to the sofrito. Seasoning at every stage really stacked the flavor. 
  • He dried the proteins before sauteing, so they got some really good color and crispness.
  • He killed the heat after the rice came to a boil. Once I add the rice, I usually bring to a boil and lower the heat and simmer it without a lid. He brought it to a boil, turned off the burner, and covered the rice. It came out with just a bit of bite, but not as wet as mine. While mine is excellent the first day, the rice did tend to get a little mushy when reheating leftovers. (I always make enough for leftovers!)

The paella spices in this dish are paprika and saffron. I like using smoked paprika and a generous pinch of saffron. Pound for pound, saffron is the most expensive seasoning you can buy. Luckily you don’t need to use more than a pinch. I paid about $8 for enough saffron threads to make 2-3 recipes. Don’t skip this ingredient because it’s an essential paella seasoning. It gives your dish authentic paella flavor.   The rice you use is also a key factor. You need to use short-grain rice similar to risotto. Cubans use Valencia rice, but if you can’t find it, use Arborio rice.

Cuban Paella

Now let’s talk paella pan. The traditional paella pan is wide and shallow and doesn’t have a lid. But you can use any wide skillet. I make mine in my mom’s caldero, a HUGE dutch pot that’s older than me. I know I was cooking in it when I was in my teens, and it was old then. These calderos are very common in Cuban cooking, and it’s what I use for most of my mom’s signature recipes. You can buy the calderos in various sizes, but Mami’s is extra-large because mom often cooks for a crowd. Yea, she’s extra.  

Oh, and the cool thing about paella leftovers is that you can make these amazing fried rice balls. You’ll love them as much as the paella!

Wondering what to serve with Paella? My favorite paella side dishes are twice-fried plantains (tostones) and a side salad. You can use this recipe to make the tostones or buy toston chips at the supermarket.  Now let’s get cooking! 

Bean Train Food For Thought header

Sometimes we can be too stubborn to change, even when it’s for our betterment. Standing in the grocery store arguing with my son about switching up my chorizo is an example. Here’s the kid whose diapers I changed telling me how to make Paella! I have pots older than him! 

But the truth is that my son is a very talented chef. I let go of my pride and allowed him to show me his techniques, which turned out to be an improvement. Pride gets in the way of our growing unless we learn to eat a little humble pie. The flavor is actually better than you would imagine ?

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chicken and shrimp paella

Cuban Paella Mixta

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Cuban

Description

Paella is party food, a delicious crowd pleaser with a Latin flair. This chicken and shrimp paella has a little chorizo thrown in for an irresistible spicy flavor.  


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/3 cup olive oil   
  • 2 cups white onion, medium dice (about 1 large)   
  • 8 cloves garlic, pressed   
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced   
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley   
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste   
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt, more to taste* 
  • 1 tablespoon paprika, or a bit more* 
  • 3 cups Valencia rice  
  • 4 cups chicken broth  
  • generous pinch saffron affiliate link threads (Do not crumble the saffron.) 
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails on 
  • 2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • ½ lb ground Spanish chorizo (this is already cooked) 
  • 1 cup white wine   

For Garnish   

  • Jarred pimento peppers, cut into thin strips   
  • Frozen sweet green peas, thawed 

Instructions

  1. Heat paella pancaldero or skillet over medium heat for a few minutes.  While it heats, prepare your ingredients.
  2. Trim the excess fat from the chicken thighs and thoroughly dry them. Then season with smoked paprika and salt on both sides. Set aside. 
  3. Peel and devein the shrimp. Thoroughly dry and season with smoked paprika and salt on both sides. Set aside. Dice the onion and peppers.  
  4. Rinse the rice. (I usually just rinse once.) 
  5. Now that the pot is hot add the chorizo and cook for 2 minutes until it’s starting to crisp. Remove from the pot but leave the drippings.  
  6. Add the chicken thighs in one layer and don’t crowd them. Cook it in stages if necessary. Cook on each side for about 5 minutes each. Remove it and let it rest.  
  7. Add the shrimp and cook on one side for about 3 minutes (you don’t want it to overcook and get rubbery. It will finish cooking with the rice. Once it’s done on one side, remove it and let it rest.  
  8. Saute onions, garlic, pepper for about 5 minutes, until softened. 
  9. Stir and cook for one more minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook one more minute. 
  10. Add the rice and cook it for about 6 minutes.  
  11. Add the chicken broth, wine, and saffron threads. Add the chicken, shrimp, and chorizo and stir and adjust seasonings if needed.
  12. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat, and cover. Let it coast for about 20 minutes. Rice should be a bit al dente. If you want to cook it a little bit longer, let it coast for another 10 minutes. If you’re not serving right away, you can transfer the pot to a 250-degree oven while you get everything else ready.  
  13. Once the rice is al dente, add the garnish and serve. Let’s get the party started! 


Notes

Seasoning: You’ll season each element individually, so you may end up using a bit more (my son does not measure his spices). I usually use the measurements provided, so I suggest you measure out the spices first and then sprinkle them from your measured portion. If you end up running out, just use a little more, it will be fine. 

Pans: I used an extra large caldero affiliate link that has been in my family for decades. But you can use a paella pan affiliate link. I’ve also linked to a caldero that’s similar to the one I have. Keep in mind that this is a very large pot and you may not have many uses for it, unless you cook for large groups. 

Keywords: cuban paella, paella mixta, paella spices, chicken and shrimp paella

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