Stewed Chicken

It's heavenly!  Stewed Chicken is the dish my niece wants the moment she sets foot on Ambergris Caye.  And, Tana is the authority on whether the dish is prepared properly.  Fortunately for me, I had nothing to worry about.  Once again, I turned to Dommie to get my recipe.  At one point in the recipe gathering, her husband Valentine tried to give me directions.  I looked at him and said, "You can stop talking now.  Dommie is the expert and I only want her instructions."

Dommie liked that.

Dommie's Stewed Chicken
San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize

8 pieces of chicken
1 Tbs salt
1 Tbs garlic powder
1 Tbs pepper
vinegar or lime juice
1 Tbs paprika
1 Tbs chili powder
1 teaspoon curry powder
Start the process by washing your chicken with vinegar.  I don't know if this is done anywhere outside of Dommie's kitchen, but that's where she begins.  She wants every bit of the bird cleaned up.  And, if you can do it, Dommie claims freshly squeezed lime juice works even better than vinegar.

After a thorough cleaning, rinse away all that vinegar. Mix up all the dried ingredients and rub them over all your chicken.  Place the spiced up goodies in the refrigerator for at least an hour, a longer time is even better.

1 Tbs oil
1 medium onion 
1 red bell pepper
2 bunches of cilantro
1 Tbs annotte paste
1 cup water
Pour the oil in a large skillet.  Over medium heat, fry up the chicken for 45 minutes.

When that time is over, scoot the bird over to the side and sauté up your diced onion, red bell pepper and chopped cilantro.  While the veggies sauté, this is also the time to add your Maya annotte paste.  Never heard of it?  Don't know what it is?  Can't find it?  Well, it's a red paste made from the seeds of a plant that dates back to the days of Maya cooking in the Yucatan.  If you find the paste, it looks like sort of like red Philadelphia cream cheese.  Mix the paste with water and pour it in with the vegetables.

If you can't find annotte paste, you can substitute with more paprika and chili powder.

Cover the skillet for ten minutes and bring it all to a boil.  Then, serve yourself up a taste of heaven with rice and beans on the side.
Now, if you feel the need for variety with your stewed chicken, I came across another recipe.  I didn't think I would need it, until Cesar came over one night as a guest chef.  He mentioned he used brown sugar with his stewed chicken.  I knew immediately that I had to collect a second way to make this heavenly dish.  Brown sugar makes it even more heavenly.
Cesar's Stewed Chicken
San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize
8 pieces of chicken
6 Tbs complete seasoning
3 Tbs chicken bouillon  
vinegar and lime juice
1/2 Tbs annotte paste
2 tsp garlic powder
Wash your chicken with vinegar.  So, now we know it isn't only Dommie who does this.  In Cesar's kitchen, then wash the chicken a second time in lime juice. Cesar likes how vinegar cleans the meat.  He doesn't like it's after taste.  So, he uses lime juice to get rid of the vinegar taste.  Any way, once the bird is so very squeaky clean, rinse it thoroughly.

Rub the chicken with the spices.  Never heard of complete seasoning?  Well, it was new to me.  You can make your own if you don't have it and can't find it.  Mix together 3 Tbs of salt, 1 tablespoon of each of the following: paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper (half white and half black), and cayenne pepper if you want a bit of fire (which you should) and a teaspoon of both thyme and oregano.

You may need to add some water to the annotte paste.
1 Tbs oil 
3 Tbs brown sugar
1 onion 
1 red bell pepper
1 garlic clove
2 Tbs annotte paste
1 bunch of cilantro
Heat up your oil until it is good and hot. Then, stir in the brown sugar.  When it starts to blacken, it's time to add the chicken.  Your first step is to brown both sides of the chicken.  This takes about fifteen seconds per side.  If you can't brown all the chicken at the same time, and I don't have a skillet big enough for eight pieces, you can stack the finished pieces on top of each other until all are ready.

When the chicken is browned, cover up your bird for 10 to 15 minutes over medium heat along with your diced onion, red bell pepper, minced garlic clove, and Maya annotte paste (mixed up in a cup of water).  If you can't find annotte paste, you can substitute with more paprika and chili powder because its real purpose is to add red coloring to the dish.  Bring it all to a boil.

When you have five seconds left to cook, sprinkle on the chopped cilantro and cover the dish again.  Of course, five seconds happens so quickly that by the time the lid settles, it's almost time to take the lid off again.

In the previous recipe, you cooked the meat for 45 minutes.  I triple-checked with Cesar about the fact that he only cooked the chicken for ten to fifteen minutes.  He said since you also fried the chicken on both top and bottom, you didn't have to cook it as long.  That's the words right from the chef's mouth, and we all know that's not me.

Serve yourself up a taste of heaven with rice and beans on the side.  I realize that the natural inclination outside of Central America may be to eat this with mashed potatoes.  I know it's what I'd prefer.  But, if you want an authentic meal, the chicken has to be served with rice and beans.