|Dishes||Rice + Beans, Red Recado spiced Chicken|
|Rough cost||£15 (inc. organic chicken)|
|Land mass||22, 966 km2 (147th)|
|Languages||English (6 others!)|
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Happy week whatever-the-number! We hope you are all safe and well in lockdown. This week was Belize, a place that I had (to my shame) never really heard of. On researching, Belize is a beautiful Caribbean country that is bursting with nature and culture. Belize has its very own 300m barrier reef!
Thanks to a rich history, Belize has a very diverse mix of cultures and languages. Its cuisine reflects this but can generally be described as “Mexican/Jamaican/Anglo-Caribbean”.
Chicken with red recado
This looked on the surface like a simple recipe, but then I realised that red recado was a special spice paste that I was going to have to make by hand! The recado itself required some pretty specialist ingredients that, even if we were not on lockdown, I would have difficulty sourcing. However, I reminded myself that national dishes are the best of home cooking and are not made by highly trained chefs in professional kitchens. These recipes evolve and are made with what is at hand and so, I adapted the red recado recipe and managed to make something that may not have been 100% authentic, but tasted pretty good and looked good too.
The lesson – do not be put off making something just because you have not got the PERFECT stuff. A bit of a bodge is always ok as long as you keep tasting and making sure that your improvised flavours are making sense.
This is a multi-stage recipe, so read through the whole thing before you start so you can create a plan of attack. There is time in here to cook without getting stressed as long as you are organised.
Bridget made a vegan version by substituting Quorn pieces for the chicken and it worked really well.
- 1 tbsp of paprika (should be annatto soaked in water)
- 5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1/2 large white onion, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano (should be Mexican oregano)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cloves (should be 1 tsp allspice)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup Korean chilli flakes (should be a ½ cup ancho chilli powder)
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1 cup fresh orange juice
To make the red recado, you do something slightly odd. You dry fry the onion and garlic in a non-stick frying pan for about ½ hour until soft but not too coloured. It worked really well. Then take everything and put it into a blender and blend until smooth. It should have the consistency of really thick soup! Taste it for salt, sour and spice. All three tastes should be there without too much power coming from any one – a nice blend but really explosive!
- 1 5-lb. Chicken cut into 8 pieces (the butcher did this for me)
- 1 Clove garlic
- 1 tsp. fresh or dried thyme, salt, pepper
- 1 sliver of ginger
- 1 small finely chopped onion
- ½ chopped green pepper
- 1/4 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. brown sugar
- 1 ripe tomato, chopped into small cubes
- Red recado paste to taste – I used about ¼ cup
- Vinegar or lime juice
- To make the Belizean chicken, season the chicken pieces with a mixture of the vinegar or lime juice, red recado, salt, pepper, thyme and cumin. Leave it for a bit, or not. It just depends on how much time you have.
- Brown the tsp sugar in a tbsp. oil (I used coconut oil) until the sugar is darkening but not burning. Add the garlic and ginger, give it a stir and then add some chicken pieces, as many as will fit in the pan. Brown the chicken all over and repeat in batches until all the chicken pieces are brown.
- Put everything in a casserole type pot, including the scrapings from the frying pan, with about ½ cup water. Bring to the boil and then turn down to a very gentle simmer. Cover and cook for about 1 hour.
Belizean Rice + Beans
- 1 lb. red kidney beans (2 tins)
- 1 medium onion sliced
- Black pepper
- 1 tsp. thyme
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 2 cloves garlic ( crushed)
- 1 cup coconut milk
A quantity of cooked rice to serve.
- To make the beans, just put everything in a pan and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, until the garlic and thyme have infused the coconut milk and the whole dish has thickened up a little bit.
To serve, feel free to sprinkle a bit of fresh coriander somewhere, or not. I felt a bit of finely chopped, fresh green chilli would have woken up the beans but everyone else was happy with them the way they were.
This is a great family dinner dish and we now have left over recado for another night – we were thinking of covering aubergine chunks in it and roasting them for a quick supper. Thanks Belize! Nosh Nosh!!
Thank you and see you in Benin! M + B
#belize #vegan #global #cuisine #travel