A recipe for “Pollo en Piña – Caribbean Style Chicken in a Pineapple Boat” appeared in the October 1977 issue of the National Culinary Review (then called the Culinary Review). The recipe was written by Chef Gerhard Grimeissen, CEC, AAC, who at the time was the executive chef of the El Paso Country Club in Sacramento, California.
“When I first read the 1977 recipe, I was immediately transported to another place and time,” says Hari Pulapaka, CEC, of Cress Restaurant in Deland, Florida.
The recipe’s quirky presentation and classic Caribbean flair — chicken dipped in egg and rolled in coconut, served with rice in half a hollowed-out pineapple — made it an irresistible candidate for a modern rewrite.
Recipe: Pollo en Piña
4 boneless chicken breasts
2 fresh pineapples
6 ounces shredded coconut
4 fluid ounces sherry wine
1 ½ cup strong chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped onions
2 tablespoons chopped bell peppers
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
3 tablespoons honey
3 ounces butter
1 egg, beaten
salt, ground white pepper
- Season boneless chicken breasts with salt and white pepper. Dip both sides of breasts into beaten egg, then roll in shredded coconut. Place on buttered pan. Sprinkle breasts lightly with melted butter. Place in oven at moderate heat (350 degrees F) for approximately 20 minutes until chickens are done and coconut well browned.
- Prepare pineapple boats by cutting off excess leaves and bottom. Cut pineapples into halves and remove insides, which are cut into small cubes and palced back into the boats. Save some trimmings for sauce.
- Sauce: Melt butter in saucepan, add chopped onions, peppers, pineapple trimmings and tomato ketchup. Saute shortly, then add 3 fluid ounces of the sherry wine and the heated chicken broth. Season with salt, white pepper and ginger powder. Let boil for approximately 30 minutes, then thicken with cornstarch to a light glace. Bring sauce to a boil, then strain. Stir in honey when sauce is finished. Keep hot.
- Cut baked chicken breasts into 4 slices each. Place on pineapple boats and sprinkle with remaining sherry wine. Cover with foil and place in hot oven until thoroughly heated.
- Place pineapple boats on plates and top with finished sauce. Serve with yellow rice pilaf.
To create the modern version, Pulapaka grilled some of the pineapple and brought the chicken to the forefront with a crisp, roasted skin.
“For this dish, so many familiar flavors come together, naturally, so I thought, why not really marry them all with a refined sauce,” he says. “Similar in concept, more focused in technique, and more diverse in enjoyment because depending on what bite you take, the experience can be different.”
Recipe: Pineapple Kissed Chicken
2.5-3 lb. broiler-fryer chickens, in pieces
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pineapple, sliced, some reserved for garnish
½ cup dry sherry
2 tablespoons vinegar
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
vegetable oil, as needed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
hot cooked rice
- Heat oil in large skillet. Cook chicken on medium heat until brown on all sides.
- Remove chicken. Cook onion and garlic in remaining oil until onion is tender, stirring frequently.
- Return chicken to skillet.
- Mix all remaining ingredients except tomatoes and rice; pour over chicken.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes.
- Add tomatoes; simmer, uncovered, until thickest pieces of chicken are cooked through.
- Take out a half the broth and vegetables and purée to a smooth sauce. Adjust the seasoning as desired.
- Grill a few slices of freshly cut pineapple seasoned simply with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Serve the chicken and remaining vegetables alongside the smooth sauce, some steamed rice, grilled pineapples and fresh cilantro.