xmlns:fb='http://www.facebook.com/2008/fbml' Ria's Easy Trinidad Stewed Chicken

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ria's Easy Trinidad Stewed Chicken


Summer is officially here..!!! [rainstorms and all.....]

What does summer mean to me?

It means.....
  • feeling alive again (when it's nice and sunny and not stormy like today)
  • early morning trips to the organic stand for freshly squeezed vegetable juice
  • family gatherings
  • lazy days relaxing on the beach
  • hanging out bare feet in my backyard
  • refreshing cold showers on very warm humid days
  • screaming at my hubbie to take off the A/C , since I like feeling hot and sweaty..(to be able to enjoy previously mentioned cold showers)
  • enjoying the kaleidoscope of pretty flowers
  • catching magnificent sunsets
  • exciting road trips
  • cooking everything on the grill……and eating bbq “everything” until I swear I’ll never eat another piece for the rest of my life, so help me God….
...but most importantly, happier kids, no stressful two hours every night helping with homework, projects and reading, no packing lunches, no traffic, no school buses to slow me down, no crowded trains, no commuting stress….and getting to work on time for a change. Sigh…….

Yes, it means a whole lot to me.....Oh summer how I love thee...

So why am I posting stewed chicken recipe when it’s officially bbq season? Trust me, you will be happy to eat stewed chicken in a few weeks when you are all bbq’d out......Ok, the truth is I have been working on this for a while and wanted to get rid of it from my “drafts”. Summer recipes coming soon...

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, Trinidadian stew is quite unique from stews around the world. There are many variations, but in my simple recipe, pieces of chicken are first browned in a modest amount of "burnt" sugar and the flavor is enhanced with fresh herbs, garlic, tomato, a touch of ginger and pimento, habanero or other hot pepper.  In Trinidad, this is a Sunday lunch favorite served with either stewed beans, peas, callaloo, white or brown rice and macaroni pie.

This is one of my favorite chicken recipes. I always say, “you know you are a Trini (a Trinidadian) if you don’t know what to cook and you decide to make either stewed or curried chicken”.  In minutes you can prepare this mouthwatering chicken that's unrivaled in flavor. In my opinion, there is no chicken recipe anywhere that can produce such a complex and satisfying experience with the minimum effort required of this recipe.

I originally intended to provide you with a recipe that requires marinating the chicken for deeper flavor. If I did that, I would not be preaching what I practice, so I won’t.  In my kitchen, I don’t marinate the chicken. I don’t have the time(I know you have heard that line from me before!). Occasionally, my husband (in anticipation of a delicious fresh meal) takes a chicken out of the freezer to defrost before we leave for work. I rush home, cut up the chicken (in a matter of minutes), wash it and throw everything together in the pot....et voila! A delicious, simple and satisfying meal with the freshest ingredients in no time!
  

Cooking Tips:
When I buy ginger, I wash and cut it into various sizes (1 and 2 inches and some larger), freeze in a resealable bag and use as needed. Grating is effortless when frozen, the ginger never "disintegrates" and I always have a supply to enhance recipes!

Buy pre-cut pieces of chicken (whole chicken, thighs, legs or wings) if you are overwhelmed by the thought of “cutting up” a whole chicken.

If time is on your side, mince scallion, garlic, hot pepper and thyme in a food processor or blender and marinate the chicken for a few hours or overnight , adding salt and pepper. 

If the chicken starts to shred while cooking, it's a clear sign that it is overcooked. I know from experience that chicken bought in NY is more tender, releases "lots" of water (when that happens I don't add additional water) and cooks quicker than chicken from Trinidad, so cooks in Trinidad may have to add additional water and increase the cooking time. 

Ria's Easy Trinidad Stewed Chicken
Serves 6-8

4 pounds chicken, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup chopped scallion (white and green parts) (about 4-6)
½ cup chopped onion ( I use sweet onion)
4 large cloves garlic, grated or minced
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon ketchup
4 sprigs thyme
Fresh pimento or habanero pepper, to taste (optional)
Salt and black pepper (1 teaspoon)
Optional ingredients: 1-2 potatoes or 1 cup cooked peas or beans and/or sliced carrots. Chopped culantro or cilantro can also be added for flavor.

Directions:
Wash chicken with the juice of one lemon, lime or vinegar and water, rubbing to remove slime, also remove excess skin, fat. Wash a second time with plain water. Drain well.

Wash and chop scallions, tomatoes, peel and chop onion, grate ginger and garlic, cut pimento or habanero if using.




In a large pot over medium heat, add oil. When hot but not smoking add sugar and allow it to bubble, froth and darken  [Do not allow it to smoke and get black.]

This is the same technique I used  with the pelau and stewed lamb...


Add chicken and listen to it sing in the pot! Immediately raise heat to high and stir continuously to coat with the brown sugar 1-2 minutes.


Add scallion, onion, garlic, tomato, ginger, thyme, pimento pepper, hot pepper-if using, salt and black pepper, ketchup and cook 1-2 minutes more while stirring.




Cook for 15-20 minutes, uncovered, over high heat (chicken will relinquish it’s juices), stirring occasionally-every 5 minutes, until liquid has evaporated.

After liquid has evaporated, continue to cook for a few seconds to allow flavors to develop, stirring continuously to prevent sticking.

Add one cup of water, more if you like lots of "sauce". Cover and cook an additional 10-15 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked and tender (but not shredding), turning gently once or twice, and the sauce has thickened to your desired consistency.

Taste and add more salt and pepper if required. [For this dish I added a total of two teaspoons Himalayan salt but amounts may vary depending on the type of salt you use...]


Serve hot preferably over rice...with stewed beans..callaloo..or dhal...and your favorite salad...if you feel like it add some fried plantains...and wash it down with a cold glass of mauby, sorrel or home made lemonade...

I have no doubt that you will enjoy the exquisite taste of this authentic Trinidadian stew chicken ....


......but tell me...what does summer mean to you? I would love to hear....

To your best health,
Cooking with love,
Ria

p.s. Original recipes take time to develop, so I apologize for the long delay between posts! I hope to post more often now that school 's out for the summer. :-)

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