On our way back from an amazing sailing vacation in the British Virgin Islands we had a longer than expected layover in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We decided to take a car into San Juan and get a feel for the the city instead of sitting at the airport reading People magazine. I am so glad we did. We started by heading into “old town” and getting a coffee and pastry.
After finishing our coffee, and, buying a bag of the beans to take home, we strolled through cobblestone streets and enjoyed the Colonial-era architecture. San Juan was founded in 1509.
As a military city the town was built inside a fortress.
After a good long walk we decided to try some authentic Puerto Rican cuisine – “the kind Grandma cooks”. We were directed to a residential neighborhood near the airport and a wonderful restaurant called “La Casita Blanca”.
The warm hospitality and charming interior brought nostalgic feelings for 1960’s era San Juan. Old T.V.’s, mid century patio furniture, framed yellowed newspaper articles all reminiscent of a time gone by. Grandma’s food did not disappoint. Our gracious waiter offered us an appetizer of local avocado (how did he know about this obsession of mine?)…
He returned with one sliced and sprinkled with oregano – large enough to feed a family of six.
It was a Saturday, and Saturday is the only day they cook Arroz con Pollo. A traditional Puerto Rican dish of braised chicken, rice and tomato Arroz con Pollo is easy to make. Brown a cut up chicken that has been seasoned with salt and pepper in olive oil. Remove from pan. Add a chopped onion, a chopped red pepper and a chopped green pepper to the hot oil and cook until it has softened. Add the chicken back to the pan. Add a cup of white rice and stir to coat with the oil and other ingredients. Pour in two cups of chicken broth and one cup of chopped tomato. Stir to scrape off any brown bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Salt and pepper liberally – I also like to add a few cloves of garlic that have been smashed. Cover and cook on low until the rice is done (about 30 – 40 minutes).
Here is La Casita Blanca’s version. Far better than mine – but I can keep trying.
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