Stew chicken with rice and beans is the national dish of Belize. You will find it in almost every restaurant in the country and every home cook has his or her own secret recipe that they claim is the best. It is simple food that feeds the soul. It is that dish that makes you close your eyes and rock back and forth with delight. It is comfort food. It is home.
Here is my recipe for stew chicken with rice and beans. It is the culmination of picking the brains of several Belizean restaurant chefs and cooking alongside Belizean residents in their homes. My Belizean friends have told me it’s pretty good!
Let’s start with the rice and beans since they will take about 2 hours to cook properly.
Rice and Beans
- 1/2 lb – dried beans – Kidney Beans (works for Black Beans too)
- vegetable oil for sautéing onion and garlic
- 1 – large onion
- 2 cloves – garlic
- 4 cups of water
- Optional: small piece of salt pork (for flavor) or your own substitute (smoked turkey, etc.)
- 3 cups white Rice
- 6 cups cooking liquid (2 cups water or unsalted chicken stock, 2 cups of liquid from the stewed beans, and 2 cups coconut milk)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Sort and clean beans. Discard any cracked or odd beans/ rocks. Rinse dried beans. If you want your cook time to be shorter (less than 2 hours), soak your beans overnight. If you are okay with a longer cook time, proceed to the next step!
- Heat up oil in a large cast iron or heavy-bottom soup pot. Add chopped onion, garlic, spices and salt pork (or your substitute) to hot oil. Sauté until onions start turning translucent in color.
- Add beans and 4 cups of water to the pot. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for approximately 2 hours. Check your beans periodically to make sure there is enough water. Add more water as needed.
- When beans are tender add rice and cooking liquid and stir. Bring to a rapid simmer, turn down the heat to a simmer, cover at a gentle simmer for 30 minutes
- After 30 minutes take the cover off the pot, salt and pepper to taste.
- stir, and serve.
Now that the beans are on and simmering, let’s get to this chicken!
Stew chicken in Belize uses a spice mixture called Recado. This spice blend finds it’s way into countless dishes with good reason. It is a mélange of oregano, cumin, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, allspice, garlic, salt and annatto, which gives Recado it’s distinctive, rich red color. It can be made locally or commercially.
- 1 – chicken, cut up, bone in
- 2 tablespoons of Recado
- 2 limes, quartered
- 1 – small to medium onion
- 2 tablespoons – oil (enough to coat the bottom of your pot)
- 4 -6 cups of water to cover browned chicken
- With a fork, mix Recado and 4 tablespoons water in a bowl. Pour mixture over chicken. Turn chicken to make sure it is completely coated. This can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
- Dice Onion.
- Heat oil in dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot. Add onion. Add chicken pieces, brown both sides, 3-5 minutes per side.
- Add water to the pot until it’s just below the top of the chicken. Bring to a simmer. Turn heat to low and cover, maintaining the same gentle simmer.
- Allow to simmer for a minimum of 1 hour and up to 2 hours. Be sure to check chicken periodically.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
Would you like to experience the Placencia Lobster Festival with a group of adventurous foodies? Join us for the Global Gastronome Lobster Festival excursion June 20 – 24, 2019. For more details click below!