According to Kezzianne Miller of Foodie Nation; “Pelau is “the unofficial national dish of Trinidad and Tobago”. This is a view shared by her co-host Jason Peru who sees it as an easy to make dish that lasts several days and could be taken anywhere.
Together, they break down how to make a typical Trini Chicken Pelau.
Yield: 10 Portions
3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
½ Cup Brown Sugar
1 Whole Seasoned Chicken (Cut into Pieces)
2¼ Cups Rice
1 Tin of Pigeon Peas
6 Cloves of Garlic (Finely Minced)
½ Cup Onions (Finely Minced)
2 Bundles Chives (Chopped)
6 Pimento Peppers (Finely Minced)
1¼ Cup Pumpkin (Cubed)
¼ Cup Coconut Milk
Water (About 4 Cups)
1 Whole Scotch Bonnet Pepper
¾ Cup Carrots (Cubed)
½ Cup Corn Kernels (Optional)
1 oz Salted Butter
2 Bundles Chadon Beni/Culantro (Finely Chopped)
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
1. Heat iron pot over high heat.
2. Once pot is hot, add the oil and then add brown sugar.
3. Once sugar begins to bubble and caramelize, stir using a pot spoon until sugar develops a deep amber with slight black jack color.
4. Immediately add your seasoned chicken pieces to the pot and stir to allow caramelized sugar to evenly coat the chicken. Allow chicken to stew (brown) for 10 minutes.
5. Reduce heat to medium, add the rice and mix thoroughly with chicken. Allow rice to parch or brown with the chicken to develop a nutty flavor and caramel color for about 4 – 5 minutes.
6. Add pigeon peas followed by the garlic, onions, chives, pimentos and pumpkin.
7. Mix the coconut powder with the water add to the pot. Water should cover the surface of the rice. Stir to distribute aromatics then add the whole pepper, cover and bring a slow boil. (About 8 – 10 minutes)
8. After this time, remove cover and add the carrots and the corn. Stir to combine and check the doneness of the rice at this point. If it’s still a bit hard or close to being done, gauge by adding a little more water and cover the pot; allowing it to cook for a few more minutes. However if the Pelau is still moist with sufficient liquid and close to being done, then leave uncovered and allow excess water to evaporate.
9. Add the chadon beni, salted butter and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as per your likeness and stir to ensure all ingredients are mixed well as this prevents the bottom from burning.
10. Do this until you have reached your desired consistency.
11. Remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to converge and set.
12. Serve as is or with coleslaw as a great accompaniment.