Wednesday, November 4, 2015


Haiti, along with the Dominican Republic, is one of the two countries on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. Haiti declared independence from France in 1804, making it one of the first post-colonial nations. It is currently considered the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

French and Creole are the official languages. The country is slightly smaller than Maryland, with over 10 million citizens. Port-au-Prince is the capital. Read more at the CIA World Factbook.

I have never been to Haiti, but feel a slight connection. In high school, one of my close friends and her family went there often to help on medical mission trips. More recently, my little brother Patrick has gone two years in a row to help do some work there too. I have art up in the house that they have brought back for me and I have heard plenty of stories. I would love to go someday and try to help and get to know the people as well.

I reached out for some help on what I should make for Haiti. Might as well go to the people that have actually been there, right? They agreed on three things: fried plantain, rice and beans, and Poulet Aux Noix (Chicken with Cashew Nuts). They also agreed they hadn't ever actually seen them served with cashews, probably because of cost.

With their approval I went with this version of the recipe, excluding the cashews. I also got some plantains to fry, but skipped the rice and beans so as to head off unnecessary stress. We've done those a few times.
Washing a chicken with a lime was different but kinda made sense to me. I don't know how much flavor it imparted, but it can't hurt, right?

This recipe had my least favorite thing: estimating. It told me the spices in a blend, but not the proportions. I just had to make it up. I had some fresh thyme and parsley growing on the deck so those made up some good volume, but from there used random amounts of everything else to make up the difference. Four tablespoons is a lot.

That marinated for a while and then got cooked in a Dutch oven - no liquid or anything added. After that, I removed everything from the pan, cooked some tomato paste for a bit, then put the chicken back in. It seemed like a bit more back and forth than was strictly necessary.

This tomato paste is great for when you just need a small amount!
 From there I added everything else, including the optional hot pepper straight from the garden!

Overabundant serrano plant for the win!

While that finished cooking, Brendan helped me slice the plantains and then sprinkle them with cinnamon. We (well, technically me) then fried them in some coconut oil.

 Once the chicken was cooked, I served it over some brown rice and let everyone dig in!

Kevin: "Cook this again!" Yeah, it was really delicious. The chicken was moist and tasty and just good overall. And I even think I could modify the recipe a little bit to reduce some of the back and forth to make it a more weeknight-friendly dish.

The girls really liked the plantains. I liked plantains when I was in the Caribbean but have never found that magic here. I don't know if it is the cooking techniques or the freshness of the produce, but it just hasn't been the same.

Well this has certainly increased my desire to go to Haiti. Yum!

Next time: Honduras

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