A classic dish during pigeon peas season (usually from late December to early April) in the Caribbean. Freshly shelled pigeon peas are pre cooked, then added to traditional stewed chicken for an iconic dish to enjoy with rice, dumplings, roti or a side to ground provisions. Almost the same dish is made with a curry base – I’ll share that one another time.
3 cups green pigeon peas
3-4 lbs chicken (legs and thighs)
3/4 tablespoon salt (adjust)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1 heaping tablespoon Caribbean Green Seasoning
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
2-3 drops Angostura Bitters
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 medium tomato (diced)
1 medium onion (diced)
2 1/2 cups water
2 cups pumpkin (cubed)
1 scotch bonnet pepper
2 tablespoon parsley- optional (chopped)
Important! I used a whole scotch bonnet pepper, adjust to your own liking/tolerance and do wear gloves and wash your hands with soap and water immediately after handling such hot peppers. If you cannot source fresh pigeon peas, you may use frozen. Should you only have access to canned (tin) pigeon peas, there’s no need to precook it. Just rinse well and add to the chicken when I did.
Rinse the peas in cool water, then place in a deep sauce pan and cover with water. On a med/high heat, bring to a boil, then reduce to a rolling boil.
While the peas boil, we’ll season the chicken. The chicken was cut into serving size pieces (and washed with lemon juice and cool water) and placed in a large bowl where we’ll now season it. Add the onion, tomato, black pepper, salt, Worcestershire Sauce, bitters, Caribbean Green Seasoning, tomato ketchup, ginger and scotch bonnet pepper. Mix well to coat the chicken with the marinade. Typically I’d say marinate for at least 2 hours, but today we’ll go as long as it takes the peas to cook.
After 35-40 minutes of boiling , turn off the stove, drain the peas and set aside.
Now in a large heavy pot, add the oil and go on a high flame. Add the sugar to the pot and move it around. The sugar will melt, then go frothy and finally go dark. As soon as you see it deep amber (NOT BLACK), start adding the seasoned chicken to the pot. Stir well to coat. Bring to a boil. If the sugar goes BLACK.. STOP. Allow the pot to cool, wash, dry and start over or you’ll end up with bitter tasting chicken.
Reduce the heat to med/low, cover the pot and let it go. In the same bowl you marinated the chicken, add the water and move it around to pick up any remaining marinade. Set aside.
Ten minutes later (stir a couple times at least), remove the lid off the pot (there will be some juices), crank up the heat to burn that of that liquid and to give the chicken a deeper color and flavor base.
It will take about 8-10 minutes to get rid of that liquid. Now add the cooked pigeon peas, diced pumpkin and thyme. Mix well. Then add the water from the bowl into the pot. And bring back to a boil.
Turn the heat down to a simmer, lid slightly ajar and cook until everything is tender and you have a lovely gravy.
After 25 minutes, it time to personalize things. Taste for salt and adjust, crush some of the pumpkin pieces along with some peas to thicken the gravy and be sure to cook down until you achieve a consistency of gravy you’re happy with. Top with some freshly chopped parsley for a punch of color when you turn off the stove.
Drop me your comments below, tag me on Instagram and don’t forget you can now get my cookbook – The Vibrant Caribbean Pot, 100 Traditional And Fusion Recipes @ CaribbeanPot.com/CookBook/