top of page

El Aljibe Chicken

    bitter orange
    Juice and pieces of orange, lemon and tangerine
    Sparkling wine

The secret mojo of El Aljibe is enigmatic even for the most wary tasters, the sauce that bathes the chicken served in this place, marks the difference between a delicious common dish and a true culinary treasure.

El Aljibe is an altar of simplicity, of everyday gastronomy which is the homemade food from the fields of Cuba. Roasted chicken with white rice and black beans, plus salad and fried plantains, served to eat heartily as if there wasn't another day to live afterwards.

Except for the employees of El Aljibe, no one knows for sure what unique secret their chicken recipe hides that makes it taste like no other in Cuba.

It all apparently began in 1946, on a farm near the town of Wajay, where brothers Pepe and Sergio García rented a restaurant with the idea of offering real Creole cuisine. So they relied on their grandmother's formula, a special sauce that quickly began to gain customers and popularity. Soon after, they opened another restaurant with the name Rancho Luna, with such success that in the 1950s they opened a branch in El Vedado de Havana.

Shortly after the revolutionary triumph, Rancho Luna was nationalized, and the tradition disappeared, until in 1991 the idea of saving this site arose in order to offer a very Cuban product to the emerging tourist industry . Sergio was called to run a new restaurant, and, in August 1993, the scent of Cuba's best roast chicken was once again felt in Havana.

The most sensitive palates can identify the garlic and bitter orange at first bite, but the other ingredients, which make this a unique chicken, escape the vast majority.

This recipe is therefore only an approximation of the well-kept secret; it is the taste adventure of a passionate customer who came to induce the preparation of El Aljibe chicken based on a personal experience, then shared between friends, around a rum.

POLLO AL ALJIBE recipe is basically chicken marinated in bitter orange and prepared with garlic sauce.

A chicken must be marinated in bitter orange, salt, black pepper and garlic, at least the day before.
Then put a few extra cloves of garlic inside the chicken to roast, or cook in a lightly greased pan over low heat for 45 minutes.

Then the juices from the roast are mixed with juice and pieces of oranges, lemon and tangerine, very important: without seeds or peels; champagne is added, or another sparkling wine, and ...yes, here the recipe becomes a bit complicated, at least for Cubans, so we can use any other white wine or even beer, which I personally prefer.

The chicken is then cut into quarters and roasted again, bathed in these juices, for another 45 minutes at the same temperature, constantly bathing in the sauce.

We can also use ground chicken from the start of production. The result is always the same, a combination of simple ingredients that makes Cuban magic with white rice, black beans and fried plantains.

Why not take a chance and try it at home, without fear of desecrating such a Cuban culinary heritage. But the next time you are in Havana, don't miss the opportunity to taste an Aljibe chicken in its original secret sauce, you would only be surprised for the better.

El Aljibe Chicken
bottom of page