Every cook in Jamaica has his/her own version of rice and peas. There are recipes that you cook on the stove top and those you cook in a rice cooker. But every rice and peas recipe that I know of uses salt beef or pork to make the broth, except this one. I thought I would try it to see how it tastes. Andy said he missed the smoky flavor of the salt beef, but otherwise, it was full of flavor.
Rice and peas is almost always accompanied with chicken. The fricassee chicken recipe that follows is my mother’s. It’s very simple and relies on seasoning salt to flavor the meat. Then you add tomatoes, garlic and onions, salt and pepper, and that’s it.
Rice and Peas (adapted from The Essential NYTimes Cookbook)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1-4 cloves garlic, minced
1-4 scallions, sliced thin
2 cups jasmine rice
one 14-oz can unsweetened coconut milk, well shaken
1 1/2 cups water
1 sprig thyme
1 Scotch Bonnet pepper or Habañero pepper
two 15 oz cans small red beans or pinto beans, drained and rinsed (1 ½ cups dried)
1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
If using dried beans, soak overnight in enough water to cover. Drain, then cook in fresh water to cover in a pressure cooker for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Heat oil in a Dutch pot with a tight fitting lid over medium heat.
Add garlic and scallion and cook, stirring, just until softened, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat if necessary to prevent browning.
Add the rice, coconut milk, water, thyme, Scotch bonnet, beans, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat then stir well, reduce the heat to very low. Cover tightly and cook without disturbing for 25 to 30 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is very tender.
Taste. Add black pepper and salt to taste. Fluff rice before serving. Serve with a fricassee of chicken.
4 chicken legs
3 chicken thighs, preferably boneless and trimmed of excess fat
3 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups onions, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large Dutch pot, heat 2 teaspoons oil on medium-high. Sprinkle seasoning salt generously on the skin and undersides of the chicken. Brown the chicken pieces then set aside.
To the oil remaining in the pot, add the tomatoes, garlic, and onions. Cook until the onions are just beginning to soften. Return the chicken to the pot and bring to a boil on medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes or until the chicken pieces are done. Taste and adjust seasoning.