Thursday, March 19, 2009

Trinidadian Chicken Stew (with Pineapple-Tomato Salsa and Rice & Beans)

[Yes, we are back! I'm afraid that posting even just ONE time during the trip was too ambitious for us. We must be getting old, as I'm afraid the energy stores aren't what they used to be. We'll be going back to our regular posts and pretty soon, posts from our trip will make their way onto the blog. Um no, we didn't go to Trinidad, as this post may lead you to believe.]

Is this me or is there a dearth of good shows on the Food Network these days?

Food Network Canada used to have some shows with substance. Now, it seems like everytime I turn onto the channel, I only see shows where they showcase or 'unwrap' food items that I absolutely have no interest seeing wrapped or unwrapped. Or I see the endless cake challenges that are just filler programs for the network. How many $10,000s do they have to give out?

And the next Food Network star? I mean, if these execs need a reality show to choose their next talent -- well, I guess we now know why the network has lost its way. I actually would not mind if they just re-run some of their older shows with actual content.

While I was recovering from that two-week flu last January, one of the shows I happened to catch one Sunday morning while recuperating in bed is Everyday Exotic. From watching the show a couple of times after that, the show seems interesting enough and the host, Roger Mooking, does seem to have some unique ideas and a unique point of view.

(He just has to get rid of the phrase "obedient ingredient" to describe the featured exotic ingredient. I find the phrase grating. And I don't know if it's a Food Network Canada thing, but he needs to stop pausing multiple times in one sentence.)

One of the dishes that we saw him was a Trinidadian chicken stew from his grandmother. Not having Trinidadian food before, we figure it was time to try.

Amise Marinade

From what I gathered from the episode, this is the marinade that Roger Mooking's grandmother used. Am I safe to assume that "amise" means "grandmother"? Anyway, into the blender went green onions, shallots, garlic, parsley (leaves and stems) and some oil. We probably threw in some cilantro as well.

So nice and green!

Half of the marinade was used to marinate the chicken. We didn't get to cook this until two days later.

Making the Caramel / Cooking

I started the caramel. This one used sugar and oil instead of sugar and water. When it turned brown, I added the chicken pieces. We had too many chicken pieces for them to brown in the caramel in a single layer, so I just added them all.

I mixed the chicken and marinade with the caramel, then added some chopped onions, tomatoes and jalapeño peppers. The recipe actually calls for plantains as well, but we didn't have any on hand, so we just left them out.

The recipe called for some chicken stock, but we had so much liquid in the pot that there was no room for chicken stock. If the pot becomes a little dry, I see no reason why some water wouldn't do the trick.

I let the mixture boil, then added in the seasonings: some Worcestershire sauce and the other half of the amise marinade.

I turned the heat to low/simmer and waited until the chicken was cooked.

Pineapple-Tomato Salsa and Black-eyed Peas & Rice

We served this with a simple pineapple-tomato salsa on the side and some rice with black-eyed peas.

To make the salsa, we simply mixed together some pineapple chunks, tomatoes, red onions, a little jalapeno, lime juice and vinegar, and of course, cilantro and a generous amount of salt and black pepper.

For the rice, we boiled some black-eyed peas and finished cooking them in some white rice.

I was apprehensive at first about the amount of sugar when I saw TS dumping the sugar in the pot. Thankfully, the stew did not taste cloyingly sweet at all. It had a deep, round flavour from the caramelized sugar.

We use the individual ingredients quite a lot in our cooking, so when reading the ingredient list, I thought the taste would end up similar to one of our multitude brown-sauced chicken dishes. When used in this combination, they contributed to a stew that tasted quite different. Different but good. It tasted very home-y and we ate this with much gusto.

We were planning to submit this to the Caribbean edition of Monthly Mingle, but entries were due on March 9. Ack.

Roger Mooking and Everyday Exotic links

Trinidadian Style Chicken
by Roger Mooking of Everyday Exotic
Recipe here:

Amise Marinade
1 bunch green onion, chopped
2 shallots, roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bunch parsley leaves and stems, roughly chopped
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
amise marinade (recipe above)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
½ white onion, small dice
1 green chili, sliced in half, length-wise (optional)
1 unripe plantain cut in half, length wise and chopped
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup cilantro, leaves picked

To make the marinade:

Place all ingredients in food processor and puree. Transfer to a container.

Marinate chicken in ½ of Amise Marinade for a maximum of 24 hours.

To cook the stew:
In a wide based pan, heat sugar and vegetable oil over medium to high heat. Swirl until sugar caramelizes and turns brown, approximately 7-10 minutes.

As soon as sugar caramelizes, add chicken skin side down. Allow chicken to brown on all sides approximately 5 minutes.

Add onions, chili, plantain, tomato and worcestershire sauce, stir. Add chicken stock, bring to a boil.

Add other ½ of Amise Marinade, reduce to medium heat. Cook for 30-40 minutes, season with salt and remove from heat.

Garnish with cilantro before serving.


  1. That's a really interesting recipe. The caramel step caught my eye...I'll have to give this a try

  2. i love carribean flavors and this looks healthy with complex flavors. yum.

    also, i just was on another blog re: how crap the food network really is these days. so boring and still as annoying as ever. i've actually stopped watching it completely.

  3. I was just looking through the entries after I saw this post and wondered if I had missed it but now I see that you missed the deadline. Awww :(

    Trinis (Trinidadians) love to cook with burnt sugar.

  4. I bumped into a Food Network challenge the other day where contestants were trying to break Guinness World Records (i.e. how many ice cream cones can you fill in 1 minute). Tragic. What a waste of perfectly good ice cream.

    Anyway, love this recipe though -- especially that whole caramel step. I'm intrigued by all of the flavors in this dish and am curious to try it.

    Hope you had a relaxing vacation!

  5. This chicken looks very flavorful, I love marinades that have fresh herbs and onion/garlic in them. I will give this a try next time I cook chicken.

  6. Welcome back!! I hear ya on the Food Network front. I also had a flu-filled Saturday a few weeks ago where I popped on the telly and the entire lineup for the next 5 hours were episodes of Unwrapped, Disney Princess Cake challenge, something about fruit sculptures, and a few episodes of Diners and Dives (or whatever it's called - I don't care, your arteries close up just watching the show).

    Your chicken stew looks delicious. I'm a huge fan of cooking meat and fish in a dark caramel sauce, but I've only used the technique in Vietnamese cooking - I didn't know that it was common in the West Indies as well! You have officially just broadened my horizons!

  7. Oh that sounds so good. & I starting to feel the same way about the Food Network in the US

  8. Mike of Mike's Table:
    Yes, exactly. We didn't expect a caramel step at all.

    we are never full:
    I don't know what else we watch there. It seems the shows that we watched last season are not showing anymore (French Food at Home, Food Safari,...).

    It's a cuisine we definitely need to know more about.

    Allen of EOL:
    Thanks! It wasn't as "relaxing" as can be. Going on vacation is hard work! Haha... Unless it's at a resort or someting. =)

    "What a waste of perfectly good ice cream." LOL. So true. Those Guinness World Records stuff seem pretty useless.

    Looking forward to it!

    Choosy Beggar Tina:
    What you said: ditto! Glad(?) to be back! =D

    Yeah, whatever happened to just having someone cook good food and provide information?

  9. I thought I was the only one bothered by the "obedient ingredient". Drives me nuts and i don't know why.


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