You will find Pica Pollo (Deep Fried Chicken) in every small town, and it's the meal of choice after a night of party and beers.
Pica Pollo is the authentic Dominican fried chicken. In a country where fast-food chains now abound, Pica Pollo remains the undisputed king of convenience food.
But there is more than you imagine behind the fast-food stalls in the country.
Yellow arches vs. Dominican pica pollo
Santo Domingo has it all: Drive around the city, and they are all there, those familiar blots on the landscape of every modern city in the world.
For some, this may be seen as progress, but for those suspicious of globalization, fast food is the worst offender: a threat to local culinary culture, wooing impressionable young people away from traditional home-cooked food.
Personally, I dislike the way that many of the chains make no concessions to the fact they are in a Spanish-speaking country, keeping all the names of the dishes on their displays in English. I am almost sure that it is not a mere lapse in manners, but a deliberate marketing strategy playing on the fact that the more foreign it seems the more desirable it is.
My impression is that in the DR, pizza, Dominican-style fried chicken, and Chinese fast-food chains do the best business. Local businesses do a roaring trade, due to their combination of accessible prices and genuine local flavors.
Recently there have some chains closing down in the Dominican Republic, the most celebrated being ‘Church’s Chicken’ which flew the coop months ago. The official reason is always "the state of the economy", but I suspect it is because the consumer tends to prefer the local version of these foods.
Dominicans have not taken to US-style fast food in such a big way. Certainly, many of the chains seem to do a reasonable amount of business, but they cater to a minority of the population because the prices they charge exclude most Dominicans from entering through their doors, or underneath their arches, as the case may be.
Instead, Dominicans continue to remain firmly loyal to traditional cuisine.
About our recipe
This is a convenience dish, which is normally sold in restaurants specialized in it. The original Pica Pollo seems to go back to the restaurants of Chinese immigrants who settled in the country. Nowadays it has been "aplatanado" (dominicanized), and it is considered almost as "criollo" as Mangú.
Since it is not normally made at home, there is no single recipe for this, and the businesses that sell it do guard their own recipes with zeal. This is the recipe that we have found we like the most, and it has always been popular in our blog. If you have another way of making it, tell us in the comments, we would love to hear your version.
Pica Pollo Recipe (Deep Fried Chicken)
- 1 ½ qt [1 ½ lt] water
- 12 chicken drumsticks
- 1 small red onion, , halved
- Juice of 2 limes
- 3 sprigs of parsley
- 3 teaspoons of salt, , divided
- 1 clove of garlic, , crushed
- ½ teaspoon of oregano
- 1 teaspoon of pepper
- 1 cup of all-purpose wheat flour
- 4 cups of oil for frying
- Boil: Pour the water into a pot, and boil the chicken in a deep pot, adding the onion, lime juice, parsley, 2 teaspoons of salt, and garlic to the water. When the chicken is cooked through but firm (about 15 mins) remove from the heat.
- Season: Take the chicken out of the water and set the chicken aside (you can use the broth for another dish). Mix 1 teaspoon of salt, oregano, and pepper with the flour. Cover the drumsticks with the flour, shake off excess.
- Fry: In a small frying pot heat the oil over medium heat. Deep-fry the drumsticks no more than two at a time until they turn golden brown. Drain excess oil on a paper towel.
- Serve: Serve with tostones and ketchup.