Ropa Vieja de Pollo – A Classic Cuban Dish

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Ropa Vieja de Pollo
Serves 4 to 6

2 pounds chicken thighs, skin on
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1 onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon Spanish paprika
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (16-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
¼ cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
½ cup pitted green olives
2 tablespoons capers
¼ cup freshly chopped parsley

1- Cook the Chicken: Spread chicken over a sheet pan covered with paper towel and pat dry. Season with freshly ground pepper on both sides.
2- In a large heavy pot (at least 12 inches wide) over medium heat, pour the olive oil, and cook the chicken skin side down until lightly browned all over, about 3 minutes per side. Using a slotted spoon transfer chicken to a bowl and cover with foil to keep moist.
3- Cook the Vegetables: Using the fat that's left in the pan (if there is too much fat, drain a little), reduce the heat to low, add the garlic, and cook until it just starts to turn golden, about 1 minute. Add the onion and peppers, season lightly with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon until vegetables are soft and translucent, about 4 minutes.
4- Add the cumin, coriander, oregano, paprika, and nutmeg and continue cooking until fragrant.
5- Add the tomato paste and crushed tomatoes and continue cooking on low heat.
6- Add the wine and cook until almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes.
7- Return the chicken back to the pot, add any juices accumulated in the bowl, and surround the chicken with the vegetables, simmering on low heat just with the moisture of the vegetables for a few minutes.
8- Pour the chicken stock in, cover the pan, and braise the chicken gently for 1 hour on low heat, checking occasionally to make sure liquid level is not too dry. If it seems like there is too much liquid at first, don't worry, the chicken and vegetables will absorb during braising and shredding time.
9- After one hour, chicken meat should be falling off the bones. Uncover the pan, remove the chicken thighs and let them cool to the touch, about 5 minutes.
10- Shred the Chicken: Separate the chicken meat from skin, fat, and bones (discard the fat, and reserve bones to make chicken stock), and shred the chicken meat into thin threads, discarding any undesired veiny pieces. Return the meat to the sauce, and cook again, simmering gently until the sauce thickens but looks incredibly moist and rich, about 20 minutes.
11- Add the olives, capers, and parsley, and mix well. Serve hot with a side of yellow rice of brown rice, or any other healthy grain of your choice.

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