I have been feeling pretty uninspired lately with my cooking and have just been stuck in a rut. To gather inspiration I went on a Youtube binge. One of the videos I watched talked about and made Pollo Guisado and Arroz con Guandules.

That was it! Exactly what I had been looking for. I knew I had to tackle that cooking project for myself. It looked too good to pass up! 

I had never had either Pollo guisado or Arroz con guandules but I was willing to try my hand at cooking them.

I sent a quick text to my friend and asked if he knew how to make either one or both.
As we talked we figured out that 1), he had never made them before but thought we should try it out. 2), his mom probably had her own recipe that he could get. 3), we found 2 recipes (here and here) that would give us basic ingredients that we needed to buy to get us started before he could get his mom’s recipe and help us if we got lost
My friend volunteered to be responsible for the drinks, music and for the dessert.
When the day to make the food came, I packed up the ingredients and headed over to his apartment, where he had fresh blackberry mojitos waiting.
Throughout the process I had my buddy make sure that I was not messing up the process or flavor.  The process and the flavor are always important, especially when making a new dish for the first time.
I chopped up the chicken so that we could get it marinating pretty quickly. We used Sazon Goya cilantro y achiote seasoning packets per his mom’s instructions and the rest of the marinade ingredients from the recipe.

Once that was in the fridge, I got started on cutting up the tomatoes and bell peppers and set them aside.

As soon as the chicken was done marinating we got cooking. 

We ended up having to separate the chicken and veggies into 2 different pans because we didn’t want to crowd the one pan we started with and mess up the results.

The thing that I found most interesting and I had never heard of before was starting the pan with a bit of sugar in it before adding the chickenMy friend’s mom came through with instructions to use brown sugar for this, so that’s what we used and then waited until we could see it start to bubble and turn a darker brown.  It added a bit of sweetness and seemed to help the chicken brown faster.

Then the chicken went in with the ingredients from the marinade. I had completely forgotten that in the recipe they get added later.

I didn’t mention to my friend that I usually just scan a recipe before I start cooking.  But maybe I should have revealed that before we started.  It was too late now, what’s done is done.

This is right after we added the tomatoes and bell peppers to the mix.  After this, we put the lid on top.


We followed the recipe pretty closely after that and added the other ingredients per the instructions. We set the pans of pollo guisado to simmer away and did a quick clean up of the kitchen.


At this point, you might be wondering what happened to the moro de guandules? Well, trust me, by this point I was anxious we weren’t going to get them finished. I was also concerned I didn’t have enough blackberry mojito left in my glass to get me through another dish.

My friend stepped in and read out directions to me again, as I repeatedly told him “I got it, I got it”. I, in fact, did not have it.

If only I had warned my buddy before we started that even sober I have a very hard time following a recipe to a tee. And that more often than not I end up winging it. We didn’t have time to go over that now.  Who cares if I have a hard time focusing on instructions, let’s cook!

We started the moro de guandules right away and set them to cooking.

While everything simmered on the stove we took a little break, refilled our drinks and changed up the music a little bit and chatted about the next steps.
For dessert, my friend had chosen to add in maduros (fried ripe plantains) to our meal, instead of making a full dessert. 

I am all for this. A little something sweet to go along with the meal makes it a bit easier not having dessert later. It also made it less stressful while we were cooking everything else for the day 

Here are the finished products, pollo guisado, and moro de guandules, all finished and smelling heavenly.

At this point, my culinary sidekick looked over my shoulder and asked, “Where are the olives?  You added those right? That’s kinda the point”.  Uhhhhh, nope.  Forgot those. 

Here is the finished product with the olives that I forgot to add in. For the record, my designated recipe reader reminded me several times to throw them in the pan and I still forgot to do it.   It happens, no big deal, and we were able to fix it pretty quickly too.


I blame the deliciousness of the blackberry mojitos.

They were a distraction and a great one at that.

As we plated up the dishes, he asked if I had added the vinegar to the moro per the recipe we had from his mom.  And I had a mini panic attack.  No, I forgot that too. And this time, it could potentially mess up the flavor of the finished dish a lot. *Cringe*

 At least it looked pretty good once we plated it. 

I waited anxiously for my culinary sidekick to weigh in on if this plate got a passing grade.

Luckily enough he said it tasted like what he had when he went to restaurants at home. That’s a decent review and I’ll take it!  This is especially given that we were putting recipes from the internet and his mom together and hoping for the best. 

The finished product turned out better than I was expecting, especially given that I forgot to add a few things.  Everything was delectable and I was excited to have some leftovers. 

What do you think?  Would you try making pollo guisado or moro de guandules?  Does anyone else feel recipe reading challenged, or is it just me?


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