Pollo Frito a la Criolla


Pollo Frito a la Criolla | www.acozykitchen.com

There are days when I miss home. I didn’t grow up with my mom cooking Cuban food, but when you grow up most of your life in South Florida, Cuban food tastes like home, too.

Cuban food was a big part of my eating growing up. If there was a big family get together, we’d often times be eating at a Cuban restaurant. There were days when I’d get out of school and head to little hole in the wall Cuban joint and I’d sit there with my friends, in our Catholic school uniforms, drinking coke and eating chicken palomilla, maduros and my all-time favorite, ropa vieja.

I hardly ever get the opportunity to eat Cuban food now (the few Cuban restaurants in Los Angeles are kinda awful) so when this cookbook, The Cuban Table by Ana Sofia Pelaez, arrived at my doorstep, I was V V excited. I began thumbing through it, ooing and ahhing.

Pollo Frito a la Criolla | www.acozykitchen.com

I landed on this chicken because it has everything I love about Cuban cooking. It’s inexpensive, it uses my favorite parts of the chicken (dark meat 4evr!) and it has mojo. MOJO IS EVERYTHING!

Mojo is a combination of sour oranges, onions, garlic and spices like ground cumin and oregano. Mojo is the heart and soul of this dish and a popular base for a lot of Cuban dishes.

Pollo Frito a la Criolla | www.acozykitchen.com

What’s great is that if you don’t have sour oranges (I did not), you can simply mix regular orange juice with lime juice. I love that the authors provided alternatives for the few hard-to-find ingredients that are in the book.

The book is also beautiful. It was shot by Eileen Silverman, who has shot numerous books, including Gwynnie’s book, My Father’s Daughter. The photos transport you to Cuba, into the markets, the countryside and kitchens. I love when cookbooks aren’t shot entirely on a tabletop. I want to see the rest of the world, what type of place the food comes from and belongs to. This book shows you just that.

Pollo Frito a la Criolla | www.acozykitchen.com

I ate this chicken for lunch and dinner. And like a lot of Latin food, this is meant to be served on a bed of rice. Everything with rice!

The chicken was tart and rich all in the same bite. The stewed onions were delicious. This recipe and book feels as if a Cuban grandmother just handed you her best recipes.

Pollo Frito a la Criolla

Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 45 minutes


  • 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and drumsticks
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, I used fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed sour orange juice, or equal parts lime and orange juice
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine


  • Place the chicken in a large mixing bowl. Using a mortar and pestle (or you can use the back of a chef's knife), mash the garlic. In a measuring cup or medium bowl, add the garlic cloves, dried oregano, cumin, salt, pepper and orange and lime juice; stir until combined.
  • Pour the marinade over the chicken pieces, top with the sliced onions, and refrigerate, covered, for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  • Remove the chicken and onions from the marinade, drain and pat dry. Reserve the marinade for later use.
  • Heat the olive oil in a 6-quart cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pot over medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches, brown the chicken on both sides until the fat is rendered, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Do not overcrowd the pot. Replenish the oil as needed. Set aside the browned chicken pieces.
  • Pour out all but 2 tablespoons of the oil and saute the reserved onions in the pot until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the reserved marinade and wine and bring to a simmer. Return the browned chicken pieces to the pot and lower the heat.
  • Cook, partially covered, until the chicken is cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes.
Nutrition Facts
Pollo Frito a la Criolla
Amount Per Serving (6 g)
Calories 0
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @acozykitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #acozykitchen
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  • Reply Elizabeth October 10, 2014 at 1:11 am

    I’m from the northeast, but I also love Cuban foods for exactly the same reasons!! I love dark meat chicken, Cuban sandwiches and mojo!! Nothing makes me happier than the delicious stewed meats with bright flavors and a side of maduros( fried sweet plantains). Yum!!

  • Reply jenna @ just j.faye October 10, 2014 at 5:32 am

    This dish sounds fantastic!

  • Reply Pollo Frito a la Criolla - The Recipe Daily October 10, 2014 at 5:56 am

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  • Reply Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) October 10, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Ohh! I made a Mediterranean Shrimp & Calamari braised dish a few weeks ago that also recommended sour oranges (used lime and orange like you!) and it was amazing. I’m sure this is wonderful! Can’t wait to try it!

  • Reply V October 10, 2014 at 10:51 am

    This dish sounds amazing. The flavors sound bright and spicy. I love cumin against citrus. This dish would be great alongside some yuca or black beans too!

  • Reply Maralyn Woods October 10, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Oh, how I miss Cuban food. I lived in Key West just a 5 minute walk from Siboney a Cuban restaurant Cubans everywhere told me they dreamed about going to when I told them I lived in Key West. This recipe looks wonderful. I have everything but the limes and as soon as I get them you can bet I’m going to face plant in this dish. Thanks for posting and the tasty memories.

    • Reply Calliope November 8, 2014 at 1:21 pm

      My husband & I ate there when we were in Key West! It’s the best Cuban food I’ve ever had. Lots of good food on that little island, actually. I think I’d have a hard time staying bikini ready if I lived there.

  • Reply Rebecca @ figs and pigs October 10, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    You have me intrigued about cuban food now for sure, this chicken dish looks amazing and mojo sounds like something I could definitely get in to. I’ve pinned this book and it will be on my next amazon shopping list. Thanks.

  • Reply Patti Panuccio October 10, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    I grew up in Tampa and I also miss cuban food and mullet.

  • Reply Karina Marie October 10, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Haha I live in Miami, so I know all too well the abundance of Cuban food, but having never eaten it growing up either, this cookbook looks like a must-buy once I move away!

  • Reply Lilly October 10, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Thank you! This recipe looks great, I can’t wait to try it. If you live in LA county, try Tropicana Bakery & Cuban Cafe in Downey. Their pollo frito is amazing, (I want it so much I’m glad I came across this on Pinterest to make at home) it’s served with platano frito, onions, and black beans and rice of course. Downey has a large Cuban community and has quite a few Cuban spots. Porto’s is also delicious, with locations Downey, Glendale, Burbank, and soon Buena Park.

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme October 11, 2014 at 9:44 am

      Ooooo…I didn’t know that. That’s amazing. I’m gonna try Tropicana Bakery. Thank you!

  • Reply Jasmine Tang October 10, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    Have you tried Versailles in LA? I aware I could live off of their black beans and rice.

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme October 11, 2014 at 9:43 am

      I don’t love it! 🙁 But strangely enough, the Versailles in Miami is pretty on point.

  • Reply Jenny Ramsey October 13, 2014 at 6:26 am

    Dark meat is the best! I am not a fan of dried out white meat chicken breasts.

  • Reply Steph October 14, 2014 at 6:46 am

    I made this last night and it is seriously amazing! So easy and so delicious!

  • Reply Holley October 16, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    my boyfriend is out of town till sunday 🙁 and i think i am going to spend the weekend cooking…DEF including this recipe. i worked in a cuban restaurant in college aaaand i think about ropa vieja at LEAST 3x a week!

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme October 16, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      Doooo it! Also, the primer/moisturizer just arrived from Glossier and the packaging is ridiculously cute BUT I wish it smelled like something. Undecided if I love it or not. :/ But the stickers are dope.

      • Reply Holley October 16, 2014 at 3:34 pm

        ahh yeah, i know what you mean…it’s nice to smell clean and fresh after going through all the trouble of washing your damn face in the first place! but yeah, my phone looks like a teenage girl’s now, stickered UP…(embarrassed emoji face)

  • Reply Kate @ ¡Hola! Jalapeño October 20, 2014 at 9:21 am

    This is just the kind of food I love to eat! So easy but loaded with flavor! Yum!!

  • Reply kslots October 21, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Soooo, let me first start by saying I should never cook when I am hungry, tired, or, worse yet – both. I just made this with 3 KG of chicken (I’m in Canada, we are metric), not 3 lbs. Once I finish eating my #chickenfordaaaaayyyyyys, I will be re-trying for sure :p!

  • Reply Ileana October 28, 2014 at 7:13 am

    My family is Nicaraguan, but I grew up in Miami and know exactly what you mean about Cuban food feeling like home. Gimme that lechon and masitas de puerco.

    p.s. I’ve spent the last few years living in Tampa Bay. Cuban food in Miami is def where it’s at — with the exception of the bread and the Cuban sandwich. I like Tampa’s better!

  • Reply Kristine November 8, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    I made this last week and I actually modified it to go in my slow cooker. I did that because of the ease of letting it cook while I go about my day, also because I used all chicken breasts since I don’t like bone in chicken, but chicken breasts can be dry as a bone… so the slow cooker infused the juices into the chicken breasts. My family loved it and we were eating it all week. I browned the chicken and followed the recipe exactly as you said, but then when it’s time to “cook it partially covered for 25-30 min” – I just popped it all in the slow cooker for about 2.5 hours on high. It was deeeeelicious!! I love how you used very little cumin and you can barely taste it. It really is the perfect amount. Thank you for your beautiful cuban recipe!! I’m from LA and do not like Versailles or any other cuban restaurant I’ve tried so I get it! Maybe you can try a picadillo please? Or a salad with avocados and hearts of palm I had once a real good cuban restaurant in Denver – called Cuba Cuba. If you’re ever there, you NEED to go!! Lots of love!

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme November 9, 2014 at 12:08 pm

      Love these modifications! Amazing. Tomorrow I’m actually posting a recipe for Picadillo so stay tuned! xo

      • Reply Kristine November 13, 2014 at 4:53 pm

        I just saw it! Thank you, can’t wait to cook next week!

  • Reply Cuban Grilled Chicken Recipe | ¡HOLA! JALAPEÑO April 28, 2015 at 7:26 am

    […] been nuts about Pollo Frito a la Criolla ever since Adrianna wrote about it some months back. She had made the recipe from The Cuban Table, […]