Off to the Islands with Pelau, One Pot Trinidadian Chicken and Rice from 'Caribbean Potluck'

Off to the Islands with Trinidadian Chicken from Caribbean Potluck (Kyle Books, May 2014) by Two Sisters and a Meal Suzanne Rousseau and Michelle Rousseau...

Trinidadian Chicken and Rice (Pelau)

Pelau will always remind us of our time living in Trinidad. This one-pot dish of chicken, rice, pigeon peas, coconut milk and vegetables is so good that you will keep eating it for days after it is made. This recipe calls for the quintessential “green seasoning” that is the basis of all Trini cooking; this amazing seasoning blend can be used as a marinade for many meats and as a flavor enhancer for many dishes.

This delicious recipe comes courtesy of our Trini friend Cree, who has saved our lives
with her incredible pelau on many occasions during Trinidad Carnival, when we roll in exhausted from a night of debaucherous behavior—and one too many glasses of rum. Thanks, Cree.

Serves 12

For the Trini-Style Green Seasoning

4 stalks scallion, chopped
1 bunch fresh thyme
2 bunches fresh chadon beni (culantro) or cilantro
1 bunch fresh parsley
12 cloves garlic, peeled
1 large yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 Scotch bonnet (optional)
6 pimiento peppers
3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon ketchup
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into parts
2 cups dried pigeon peas
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups canned coconut milk
2 cups parboiled rice, washed and drained
3⁄4 cup chopped onions
1 cup peeled and chopped calabaza pumpkin
1⁄2 cup peeled and chopped carrots
1 whole Scotch bonnet
1⁄2 cup sliced scallions

Trinidadian Chicken


1 To make the Trini-style green seasoning, puree the scallions, thyme, chadon beni, parsley, garlic, onion, Scotch bonnet, pimiento peppers, vinegar and oil in a blender. Remove to a baking dish and season with salt and pepper.

2 Add the soy sauce, ketchup and 1 tablespoon of the oil to the green seasoning. Season with salt and pepper, add the chicken and set aside while you cook the peas.

3 In a small pot, cover the peas with salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, until the peas are cooked. Drain the peas and reserve the cooking liquid.

4 Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a pot on medium heat; when the oil is hot, sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the base of the pot. Let the sugar melt and when it starts to bubble, add the chicken and sear it, turning often, until browned and coated with the “burnt” sugar, about
8 minutes. Add the peas and stir. Add 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid and the coconut milk and cook for about 30 minutes.

5 Stir in the rice and up to another cup of the reserved cooking liquid as needed and bring to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the onions, pumpkin, carrots and Scotch bonnet. Season with salt and pepper and simmer until much of the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Cover
the pot and cook until all the liquid has evaporated, 30 to 40 minutes.

6 Serve garnished with the scallions.

(* Recipe excerpted from Caribbean Potluck by Suzanne Rousseau and Michelle Rousseau -Kyle Books, May 2014- Photography by Ellen Silverman- all rights reserved)

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