Easy Recipes for Cuban Food

With Spanish, African, and French influences, Cuban food is a fascinating and delicious blend of tastes and textures. Check out Clever Cookstr's interview with the authors of The Cuban Table, plus an easy bonus recipe for Arroz con Pollo.

Kara Rota
2-minute read
Episode #34

Today the Clever Cookstr is joined by Ana Sofia Pelaez and Ellen Silverman, the author and photographer behind the cookbook The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History. They'll share their experience collaborating on the book, plus some delicious Cuban recipes for home cooks.

Click the arrow in the player above to listen to the whole interview. Or download the episode from iTunes to learn: 


  • How influences from Spanish, African, French, and other cuisines contribute to Cuban food.

  • What are some of the key ingredients, techniques, and dishes in Cuban cuisine.

  • What is the secret of Cuban bread and its importance in making the quintessential Cuban sandwich. 

  • And much more! 


Bonus Recipe

Chicken and Rice (Arroz con Pollo)

In the 1950s, when poultry was more expensive than either fish or beef, Arroz con Pollo was the preferred dish for special occasions and Sunday family gatherings. It’s a one-pot meal that’s still perfect for feeding a crowd. Check out a traditional recipe for this hearty dish from Cuban home cook Carmen Calzada.

What you'll need for the chicken:

  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, stemmed, cored, seeded, and cut in rounds
  • 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and drumsticks

What you'll need for the rice:

  • 1 cup dry white wine 4 cups water
  • One 12-ounce bottle of pilsner-style beer, divided
  • ½ pound asparagus, rinsed and trimmed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, grated
  • 1 cup jarred pimientos, drained and sliced
  • 1 cup petit pois or English peas, fresh or frozen
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled and mashed to a paste
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 cube chicken bouillon
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground achiote seeds or Bijol seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 3½ cups Valencia or similar short-grain rice, rinsed

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in an ovenproof, 6-quart heavy pot or Dutch oven until hot but not smoking. Add the green pepper to the oil. Working in batches, brown the chicken on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Set aside the browned chicken and repeat with remaining pieces. Remove the green pepper and discard.

To deglaze the pot, add the wine and bring to a simmer, scraping up the browned bits. Return the browned chicken to the pot. Add the remaining ingredients except for the rice, and half the beer and part of the pimientos to add at the end. Bring to a simmer.

Stir in the rice and simmer over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from direct heat, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and set in the preheated oven, and bake until the rice is tender but still moist, about 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and immediately pour in the remaining beer. Garnish with the reserved pimientos.

Serves 10

Check out these other delicious recipes from The Cuban Table on Cookstr:

Images courtesy of St. Martins Press.

About the Author

Kara Rota

Kara Rota headed children’s programming at Chicago’s Green City Market and studied food politics at Sarah Lawrence College. Kara has been a featured speaker at numerous venues including Food Book Fair, the Roger Smith Food Conference, and the Brooklyn Food Conference. She has written about food for Irish America Magazine, West Side Rag, Recipe Relay, and Food + Tech Connect, and is the former Director of Editorial & Partnerships at Cookstr.com.