c_o Lewis Woloch Casado LargeDuring my 10-day vacation in Costa Rica, I probably consumed 10 pounds of rice, 10 pounds of beans, and 50 million plantains. That’s an exaggeration, but as a voracious lover of Latin American cuisine, I couldn’t help but gorge myself on the delicious bounties that the home country of the casado had to offer. The casado is a dish that every restaurant has, but it’s hard for the home cook to replicate since there seems to be no set way to make it. The basic parts are rice, beans, some kind of meat, a salad, maybe some avocado, an egg, and if you are lucky, a few crispy, sweet plantains.

On the last night of my wonderful spring break vacation, I attempted to make my own casado, cutting a few corners in terms of traditional Costa Rican ingredients but remaining, for the most part, true to the hole-in-the-wall restaurants that we frequented. I did change the chicken section, because when I actually cooked the meal, I had only bone-in drumsticks on hand. They made a great broth, but all I could do with the meat was shred it and mix it in with the rice. Boneless chicken thighs are easier to deal with and very flavorful, so I suggest using those over any other cut of chicken. I made the rice and beans according to my own tastes and the sauces I had available, but substitutions can be made in terms of ingredients and method. For example, I kept the beans intact, but they could easily be refried as well. Finally, the toppings are at the discretion of the cook, but the red cabbage texturally complements the soft rice and beans, and the avocado and plantains are just damn tasty. The recipe below is the result of my efforts.

Casado de Pollo


Serves 6-8


  • 3 cups of medium-grain rice, rinsed until the water runs clear
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup ranchera sauce (a common staple in Costa Rica, a smooth salsa can be substituted)
  • 4–5 cups of chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons Salsa Lizano (worcestershire, soy, or lemon with a bit of salt can be substituted)
  • 3 cans black beans, plus the liquid


  • 6 boneless, skin-on chicken thighs
  • Paprika, cumin, chipotle powder, salt, and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus some extra for the salad


  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 large, sweet plantains (they should have black spots all over)
  • 2 avocados, thinly sliced
  • 1 small head of red cabbage, shredded
  • Lime wedges
  • Your favorite hot sauce (habanero goes nicely)


  1. Create a spice rub in a small bowl for the chicken, mixing with about a tablespoon of olive oil to create a loose paste. Rub all over the chicken thighs and let rest until you lose patience. (Or if you want to maximize flavor payoff, anywhere from 2 hours to overnight).
  2. In the meantime, get the rice started by sautéeing the peppers and onions in a wok, steel pan, or any large cooking vessel with a bit of olive oil over medium-high heat. 
  3. Cook the veggies until translucent and a few onions are starting to brown, salt heavily, and then add the washed rice. Let the rice fry in the pan for a minute or two, then add in the ranchera sauce and stir to coat all the grains.
  4. After stirring, add chicken broth, about a cup at a time. You may want to add more at first, just to make sure none of the rice burns. After the first few cups of broth start to boil, lower the heat, and continue adding more broth when the last batch has dissipated.
  5. Keeping an eye on the rice, heat up another tablespoon of oil in a skillet (cast-iron works here, but not for the rice) and then add the chicken, skin side down. Cook over medium heat to avoid splattering and flip after five minutes, making sure the skin has gotten crispy.
  6. While the chicken and rice cook, start the beans by sautéeing the garlic in a small pot with a bit of olive oil. Cook until golden brown, being careful to not burn, and then add the rest of the bean ingredients, making sure to stir thoroughly to combine everything. Lower the heat and stir every few minutes to make sure the beans aren’t sticking. 
  7. Once the chicken is cooked through, transfer it to a cutting board and chop it into bite-size pieces. The rice and beans should be finished around the same time. Add the chicken to the rice to heat it up again. 
  8. Use the chicken skillet to fry your plantains; the sweet ones need some olive oil (about 1/4 cup or a little less) and should be sliced into 1-2 inch circles and fried till dark brown.
  9. Arrange the chicken, rice, beans, and plantains on a large plate. In a bowl, mix the cabbage with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and find a nook to nestle the light salad, preferably next to the rice. Top with more lime juice, cilantro, avocado, and hot sauce. Dig in (eat slowly to avoid severe heartburn, something I unfortunately did not do).

Lewis Woloch can be reached at lwoloch@wesleyan.edu.