What is Galinhada?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen

Galinhada is a rice and chicken dish somewhat similar to certain forms of Tex-Mex cooking, Cajun dishes such as dirty rice, and even chicken paella. It can be made in a number of different ways using different parts of chicken and different types of rice, though the general cooking process is typically the same. Galinhada is often cooked in a large sauce pan or pot, though a Dutch oven would also work well.

The chicken used in making galinhada can vary between different cooks, though it is common for legs and thighs to be used. Some cooks prefer to not have to deal with bones and use chicken breasts instead. When chicken breasts are used, the meat can also be cut into smaller pieces and cooked in a shallow pool of oil at high temperature. Some recipes will also call for the chicken to have sugar added to it to caramelize the chicken and increase its flavor within the finished galinhada.

As the chicken for the galinhada cooks, diced onion is typically added with oil. The onion is allowed to soften and become translucent. Many galinhada recipes also call for diced or chopped tomato, and this is usually done as the onion cooks or just as the onion finishes softening and the chicken is fully cooked. Once this is finished cooking, the rice can be added to the pot.

Some recipes for galinhada call for the chicken and other ingredients in the pot to be shifted to make room for the rice. This allows the rice to be introduced to direct heat, which can create slightly more complicated flavors in the rice. While this can be done, it may be easier to simply add the rice and then add liquid to cook the rice. In either case, liquid is added in an appropriate amount for the amount of rice being cooked, and while water can be used, chicken stock or broth will heighten the flavor of the finished dish.

The rice is then allowed to cook in the liquid until it reaches the doneness preferred by the cook. This is usually when the rice is light, fluffy, and soft, though some cooks prefer to leave the rice a bit more “toothsome.” Once the rice is finished cooking, the galinhada can be served and is often topped with diced green onion and served with hot sauce.

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