Caribbean inspired caserole

It has been a while since we last cooked a casserole as our oven had given up on us and the replacement table top oven did the same a week ago.  We have since replaced it with another table top oven but with a built in convection fan which in theory should allow us to cook food more evenly.  We baked a gluten free chocolate cake in the oven earlier in the week and it seems to work fine.   Tonight we revisited a dish we made nearly six months ago and have been wanting to cook it again as we thoroughly enjoyed our first attempt at jerk chicken.  Rather than cooking the dish as originally prepared, we tried to be a bit creative and decided to replicate the flavours in a casserole instead and incorporated the black beans and rice into the dish versus an accompaniment as we had done previously.  The dish is more akin to a creole jambalaya in consistency than a casserole as there was very little liquid left.  Interestingly the dish seems quite balanced despite having some strong spices like all spice, cloves and nutmeg.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 500 gm boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup black beans soaked and then pressure cooked (about 400 gms of tinned black beans)
  • 1/2 cup of long grain rice washed and drained
  • 2 celery sticks sliced
  • 2 carrots roughly chopped
  • 2 large potatoes peeled and cubed
  • Small bunch of spring onion chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp all spice powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 chicken stock cubes
  • 3 tsp of Malibu rum
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

For the marinade

    • 2 cloves of garlic
    • 1 inch piece of ginger peeled
    • 1 scotch bonnet pepper de-seeded
    • 1 tsp dried thyme
    • 1/2 tsp clove powder
    • 1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
    • 1 tsp all spice powder
    • 2 tsp muscavado sugar
    • 3 tsp Malibu rum
    • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

For the marinade, use a pestle and mortar to crush the garlic, ginger and scotch bonnet pepper to a paste.  Then add the remaining ingredients and mix well.   Place the chicken thighs in the marinade and keep aside for an hour at least – the longer the better.  Heat your oven proof casserole dish and sear the chicken thighs on both sides till they colour a little bit.   Remove from the casserole and save any liquid to put back into the dish.   Wipe the casserole with a paper  towel and return to heat.  Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and saute the garlic and scotch bonnet pepper for 30 seconds before adding the celery and spring onions.   Continue sauteing for five minutes before adding the black pepper, dried thyme, all spice powder and Malibu rum.   Give it a good mix and then add the potatoes and carrots with the stock cubes.  Pour in the black beans with any remaining cooking liquor and the washed rice.  Add 1 cup of water and place the seared chicken thighs on top.   Cover the casserole and cook in a pre-heated oven at 200 degree Centigrade for an hour till the chicken is done.  Serve hot.

 

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Fresh hot sauce

Both Anna and I love our food spicy and hot and have experimented quite a bit with different chili sauces and fresh chilies.  One of my favourite hot sauces has to be the home made sauce which was served in a Carribean restaurant called Cari-B in Dallas, Texas (sadly it has closed down now).  The owner had has brother-in-law make the sauce from habanero peppers and boy did it pack a punch.  I can still vividly remember the conversation I had with the waiter when I asked for the hot sauce to go with my jerk chicken and black bean rice.  I was with my good friend Dushyant when this big Jamaican lad came over with the sauce and said in his thickest Jamaican accent “yo man, I know you Indian and all but if I were you I would use this sauce judiciously”.   Wise words as a small drop on the tip of my tongue was enough to get it tingling and dancing.  Today I decided to have a go at making my first home made hot sauce using scotch bonnet peppers – it’s not exactly the Cari-B sauce but quite tasty and definitely hot.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 6-8 scotch bonnet peppers de-seeded
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp cranberry and apple balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp unrefined sugar
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Around 150 – 200 ml

How do I make it?

Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend to a fine paste.  Adjust the seasoning and enjoy. The hot sauce should stay for a few weeks if refrigerated as the vinegar will serve as a preservative.