Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Trinidad Pelau

I first saw this recipe on The Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, there was this particular Trinidadian restaurant in Seattle, Washington, the proprietor made an interesting version of this traditional Trinidadian dish, which is essentially first cooking chicken with a caramelized brown sugar sauce, then further with rice and beans and vegetables and spices. They didn't provide her recipe, likely a secret, so I did an Internet search and found this "foolproof" recipe. I write "foolproof", because we did not follow the recipe exactly, and thus it didn't come out quite as expected; we neglected to soak the rice ahead of time (more a measure of time, but also because we forgot to) and we decided to make it in a rice cooker - this turned out well and tasty, but the rice was not quite cooked through, so a little chewy; the second time we made it, we soaked the rice and made it in our large stainless steel pot, it turned out far better. This is a great recipe, and one we'll make again, I'm sure, essentially a one-pot recipe that makes lots. Apparently, Pelau is preferred either wet, or dry and grainy; this will determine how dry you cook the rice. I think ours came out the latter, which was good.

Trinidad Pelau
4-5 lbs chicken, cut into pieces and washed with lime/lemon juice
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp ketchup
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced or crushed
1 tsp fresh ginger, crushed
2 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
2-3 Tbsp cilantro
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 hot pepper (optional)
1 green onion or chive, chopped
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (1 tsp dried)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
3 cups water
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into coins
1 can coconut milk
1 can pigeon peas, strained and washed
3 cups of long grain brown rice
1 tsp butter (optional)

Cut and wash the chicken pieces with the lime or lemon juice, then add the salt, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, garlic, ginger, onion, tomato, cilantro, black pepper, hot pepper (if using), green onion and thyme, mixing to coat all the chicken pieces. Marinate for at least 1 hour.

In a large pot, heat the oil on medium to high heat. Then add the brown sugar and heat until the sugar goes to a dark frothy brown.

Add the pieces of chicken, stirring to coat with the caramel. Cover the pot and allow to cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes.

Put both the peas and carrot pieces into the same bowl you seasoned the chicken with and stir to coat. Add the peas and carrots to the pot. Cover with the lid and turn down the heat as you wash the rice.

Pour the rice into the pot, then the coconut milk and the three cups of water. Stir well and bring to a boil. Then cover the pot and allow to simmer for about 35 minutes or until all the liquid is gone and the grains of rice are tender and plump.

For extra flavour, add the teaspoon of butter as you turn off the heat to the stove. Stir the contents. Cover the pot for about 5 minutes.

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