Here’s my finished version of Pelau, adapted from my mother and Auntie Grace’s recipes. After looking at other recipes on the Internet, it seems that many cooks add coconut milk to their Pelau, but neither my mother nor Auntie Grace did this. I’ve given some options for additional ingredients that they did use, however.
Pelau (Stewed Chicken with Rice)
1 chicken (3 – 3.5 lbs), cut up into 8 pieces
2 onions, cut into wedges
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 bunches green onions
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 habanero pepper, seeds removed OR 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds included
the juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
4 Tbsp. sugar
4 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
3 1/2 cups water
2 cups rice (Uncle Ben’s converted rice, not instant, and definitely NOT Jasmine!)
1 can pigeon peas
1 green bell pepper
1 whole Habanero pepper
1. Make the marinade by combining the green onions, 4 garlic cloves, dried thyme, habanero or jalapeno pepper and lime juice in a blender. Purée until smooth and bright green. Marinate chicken pieces in this West Indian Green Seasoning along with the soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, onion wedges and crushed garlic cloves. Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
2. Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the vegetable oil and sugar and let the sugar brown, stirring and watching carefully. Don’t let the sugar burn, but let it acquire a nice brown colour. Lift the chicken from the marinade and carefully add it to the pan. This will spit a fair amount and the sugar may seize up, but it will melt again. Turn the chicken to get it evenly brown all over.
3. Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and set aside. Add the left over marinade, ketchup and oregano to the pan and stir well. Simmer for 3 – 4 minutes. Add the water and bring to a simmer. Add the rice and stir well. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and reduce the heat to keep the liquid at a very slow simmer. Cover and cook until the rice is tender.
4. Optional ingredients: The pigeon peas may be added to the mixture for the last ten minutes of cooking if desired. Also, a whole Habanero pepper may be added just before cooking the rice for added heat, but be careful not to break it open. Sometimes my mother added a chopped green pepper ten minutes before the dish is finished too.