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Pollo Criollo
Cuban-style chicken

Difficulty: hard

Total Time: < 60min

Makes: 4

Pollo Criollo was one of the first Cuban recipes we made when Cubana opened way back in 1998 – it’s a Street Food favourite as well as being popular in our restaurants

There were not a lot of Cuban recipes around then, but we got this one from an old cook book we found in a book market in Havana. Pollo Criollo – literally Creole chicken – was a favourite of the Spanish farmers who came to Cuba to grow tobacco and other crops

Pollo Criollo is a sort of chicken casserole with a big difference – it takes bit of time, but like most good casseroles, keeps well for up to two days in the fridge. We recommend using free-range chicken as we do at Cubana – free-range birds mature for longer, they taste much better and we prefer not to use factory/battery chicken for animal welfare reasons



2/3 chicken legs/thighs per person - this recipes is based on 12 pieces to make four good-sized portions

1 onion chopped into small strips

8 garlic cloves

1.25l fresh orange juice - good carton juice will do

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Olive oil for browning

4 tablespoons sherry

4 large sprigs flat-leafed parsley

2 large sprigs cilantro/coriander

Salt and ground black pepper to season

1 teaspoon ground cumin


  1. Wash the chicken pieces, dry them and season with salty and pepper
  2. Crush the garlic and rub it into the chicken
  3. Place the seasoned chicken, crushed garlic and cut onion in a bowl, cover with the orange juice and place in the fridge for 12 hours
  4. To cook, remove the chicken and onion from the orange juice marinade and brown in a pan with the olive oil over a medium heat
  5. Drain off any excess oil and add back the orange juice marinade
  6. Heat to a simmer, then turn down the heat, cover the pan and cook over a low heat for 30-40 mins until the chicken begins to fall off the bone
  7. Take the lid off, add the chopped flat-leafed parsley and cilantro and continue cooking over a medium heat to reduce the marinade to a rich sauce
  8. When the dish looks nearly ready, add the sherry and briefly turn up the heat
  9. Pollo Crillo is usually served with Moros y Christianos - Cuban black bean rice - but it's great with simple brown or white long-grain rice. Fried plantain also goes very well - use very ripe plantain. Always make sure the chicken is fully cooked to the bone - the meat should be falling off the bone when the dish is ready. Keeps for up to two days in the fridge - always re-heat thoroughly
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