Lisa’s Pollo Guisado with Spaghetti from Panama
- December 2020
- By Sarah Kear
- Recipe from Panama
Of my earliest memories of eating my mom’s Panamanian dishes, I remember her pollo guisado—stewed chicken. My mother, Lisa, grew up with a world of flavors in Panama, and this traditional dish reflects that variety: it has sazón, a habanero chile, spaghetti, paprika, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. She proudly describes the cultural magnitude of her native Panama by saying, “One country divided, the world united.” This motto stems from the presence of Panama Canal, which brings so many global cultures to the nation.
When my mom came to the States, she brought this rich stew of culture with her—though her love of cooking. For more of my mom’s cooking, try her amazing Beef Empanadas From Panama, submitted by my sister, Mary-Elizabeth.
Pollo guisado translates to stewed chicken. Although my mom likes her stew served with rice as the carb, her mother and grandmother preferred it with spaghetti-style pasta. I also remember an instance of food “code-switching” when I first learned that spaghetti pasta is typically used for American-Italian spaghetti in the United States.
For this recipe, Mom and I followed Abuelita’s preferences and used pasta! For the chicken, my mom’s approach is to use chicken on the bone since it has more flavor. But if you are unaware of how to properly clean and cut chicken (like me), you can also buy pre-cut, boneless chicken breast, which also works.
One fall Sunday during this pandemic, my mom and I made this dish together over FaceTime. We did everything across two screens in each of our homes: from heating our pan, cutting the vegetables and cleaning the kitchen while the stew simmered.
FaceTiming with Mom and making this comforting dish together was a fun way to connect with her even though we don’t live near each other. Although we were physically apart, it still felt like we were cooking together in the same space and having dinner, just like old times.
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Suggestions and questions from our readers
I continue my mom’s tradition as well with her Panamanian recipes as well. I have all her recipes which I keep close to my ❤️
We love hearing this so much. ❤️ cooking is the best kind. It feeds your heart and your belly.