Wednesday, November 30 –
This dinner was supposed to be a whole chicken stuffed with the plantain and pepper mix, which I turned into leg quarters baked in a casserole dish with the stuffing. (It was too close to Thanksgiving to want to deal with stuffing, roasting, and carving a bird again.) There were five of us for this, Roommate Extraordinaire, Wonderful Boyfriend, WingWoman, and LightsOn. Both Roommate Extraordinaire and LightsOn brought wine for this dinner, and WingWoman made another amazing dessert.
So I doubled the marinade for the chicken and put five leg quarters in it in a baking dish and let them sit on the counter to soak while I was making the doubled stuffing recipe. I started with the bacon, then took the bacon pieces out of the fat and set them aside. Then I put the plantains into the bacon grease to brown. After they looked browned on most sides and corners I added the red peppers, Anaheim chilies, garlic, and fresh oregano. (Wonderful Boyfriend handled the cooking of the bacon and veggies so I could keep chopping stuff.) I seasoned the mix with salt and pepper at this point so the seasonings would have a chance to soak in. I let the veggies get soft and then put the bacon pieces back in. I deglazed the pan with a cup of chicken stock and mixed everything together well and let it simmer for a bit. I left the bread out on purpose so this recipe would be gluten free for my wonderful WingWoman. After the stuffing mix was bubbling and tasted amazing, I scooped the stuffing mix and spread it in between the leg quarters. I did not drain the marinade mix from the pan, because I thought the extra juices would make the flavor a little bit more lively. Did I mention that I used a whole bulb of garlic for the marinade? Bacon + garlic + dinner + wine = my favorite foods. Too true.
While the chicken and stuffing were in the oven, I started on the beans and rice. I made the rice in a rice cooker and used beans that I had let soak since the morning. They weren’t soft yet, so I simmered them in chicken stock to soak up a little bit more liquid. Then I added the veggies and seasonings and let everything simmer together. At the very end I added the rice and coconut milk.
The chicken was moist and delicious, having been basted several times and baked for an hour. The stuffing was amazingly flavorful and I would happily make it again. You could use the combination of flavors for a side dish that would go with most proteins. The beans ended up a little bit burned (my fault for focusing on the wine instead of my cooking) and it pretty much ruined the flavor of the rice dish. I still ate most of mine because it wasn’t terrible, but I would definitely have simmered it on lower heat if I could go back and fix what went wrong. The wine was a great addition, and we only made it through the three bottles that Roommate Extraordinaire brought, so we already have wine for the next dinner that LightsOn contributed.
The dessert was sweet potato, ginger, ginger, and delicious. But you would have to love ginger in order to love the flavor of it. (Which I do, so I was a big fan.) I will put the recipe up in my recipe page again, so that fellow ginger lovers can share the yumminess. It doesn’t look like much from this photo, but believe me, it was really, really good!
Things I have learned: Don’t ignore beans when they are simmering because they soak up the liquid and then start to burn. Remember to get the top of the chicken browned a little, because it looks better and tastes better (in my opinion). Don’t throw out marinade if it adds good flavor to the dish that you’re making. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to substitute out different versions of the pieces of animal that the recipe calls for. I’m sure a whole chicken would have been just as good, but having the different leg quarters so each of us could have our own was a great decision.
Belinean Rice & Beans
- ½ pound red kidney beans
- 2 cups rice
- 1 cup thick coconut milk
- 1 medium onion (sliced)
- ½ bell (green) pepper
- 1 clove garlic (optional)
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
METHOD / DIRECTIONS: Cover beans in water, and soak overnight. Put beans in pot; add onions, bell pepper, garlic, and enough water to boil until beans are tender and whole. Add coconut milk, and seasonings. Add rice to beans, and cook over gentle heat until liquid is absorbed. Stir gently with a fork, and add a little water as necessary, until rice is cooked.
Sweet Plantain and Pepper Stuffed Chicken Matinade
- 2 fresh lemons, juiced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano, crushed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 whole 3 to 31/2 pound chicken
METHOD / DIRECTIONS: In a small bowl, combine the juice of the lemons, garlic, dried oregano, olive oil, salt and pepper. Rub all over the chicken and allow it to set in the refrigerator 1 to 2 hours.
Sweet Plantain and Pepper Stuffing
- 4 slices bacon, diced
- 1 large ripe plantain, peeled and cut into 1/2inch cubes
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 1 small red pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 Anaheim chili, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 bunch oregano, chopped
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 2 slices country bread, diced and dried
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
METHOD / DIRECTIONS: Over medium high heat, sauté the bacon until crisp. Remove from the pan. Place the plantains to the pan and cook until lightly browned. Add the garlic, peppers and oregano and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Pour in the chicken stock to deglaze the pan, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the bread, salt and pepper. Stir gently to combine. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and stuff it with the plantain pepper mixture. Tie the legs together and place on a rack in a roasting pan, breast side down. Cook for 1/2 hour, turn the chicken breast side up and roast for another 1/2 hour or until the skin is golden brown and the chicken is cooked through.
- 2 pounds sweet potato
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 2-4 oz root ginger (grated)
- 1 cup raisin
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 tsps. vanilla
- 4 cups milk (evaporated or coconut)
- 2 tbsps. margarine (melted)
1. Grease baking tins or Pyrex dishes.
2. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit
3. Wash, peel and grate potato
4. If using coconut milk not canned or from powdered mix, then grate your coconut and squeeze with water to get four cups milk (or use the evaporated milk)
5. In a large bowl, add the grated potato, sugar,vanilla, nutmeg and ginger. Mix well.
6. Add the milk and margarine. Mix well. Put in baking pans or Pyrex dishes.
7. Put on bottom shelf of oven for 35 -40 minutes. Then remove to top shelf, lowering oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 8. Cook for about 80 minutes until brown or check with a knife, which should come out clean. The top should have a jelly, sticky look.
The potato pound is similar to another all-Belizean quick and easy dessert – bread pudding – and yes, you got it – basically you substitute the grated potato in the above recipe for mashed up bread and bake for less time.
The ginger used in the above recipe and the aforementioned tablata is not only used in desserts, but is also a key ingredient in some East Indian dishes, especially those made by the descendants of the original East Indians, many of whom have intermarried with Creole families. In particular, the yellow ginger is a delicacy used in the distinctive cohune cabbage dish