King Creole!

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DELICIOUS: Jerk chicken is fantastically spicy. Photo: The Little Geranium


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This week Celebrity Chef from Ready Steady Cook & Fellow Master Chef Steven Saunders, proprietor of The Little Geranium in La Cala is on the island of St. Lucia at Marigot Bay cooking Creole food.

WELL someone has to do it! By that I mean that I am delighted to be sat here over looking the Marina of Marigot bay cooking and eating creole cuisine, which is the traditional food in St Lucia.

We have closed The Little Geranium for the week to see an old friend who is a chef on this beautiful island and experience some of his special cuisine.

Creole cuisine is a style of cooking originating in Louisiana United States, which blends French, Spanish, West African, Haitian and German influences as well as influences from the general cuisine of southern America.

The best known dishes from this beautiful island are green fig and salt fish, accra (crispy fried fish cakes), fried plantain chips, Callaloo soup (like spinach)pepperpots (spicy meat stews) and breadfruit which is like a starchy potato.

But don’t forget about the local rum which is aromatic and sensational. I have a bottle of Spiced Chairman’s reserve rum on the table right now and a glass in my hand!  Don’t be surprised when ordering green fig and salt fish (the national dish) to see green bananas or plantain. Figs is just the name that they call the plantains.

It is thought that Columbus may have discovered St Lucia as he sailed through the Caribbean seas in 1502. In the 17th century the island moved to and fro between  English occupancy (who wanted it for the sugar cane) and the French so many times that I lost count.

The Caribs (settlers) hung on and fought fiercely but the French and Brits returned again and again interested in their sugar and slavery.

In the 19th century it was restored to French control and Napoleon reinstated slavery. In 1967 the Brits helped St Lucia form a government and it became an associated state of the UK, eventually handed back on February 22, 1979 when St Lucia achieved full independence.

I was invited to enjoy the Independence Day street parties but unfortunately I have to get home to my restaurant.

But I am here to cook and sample some of their national dishes on the build up to their independence day. Some of the national dishes like the salt fish have been handed down from the slavery days when bananas were over plentiful. Bananas exceeded sugar as their major export by the 20th century. You can see banana plantations all over the island, with the UK being their largest importer of bananas.

The first night we arrived chef Billy Boyle cooked us up a fabulous arrival BBQ with slow roasted suckling pig, jerk chicken, crispy fish cakes (accra) and coconut and pumpkin rice with a variety of salads, passion fruit dressing and various salsas. It was all accompanied by traditional local dancers and fire eaters!

Chef Billy’s Jerk Chicken (from Marigot Bay St Lucia)

BILLY BOYLE shared some of his family recipes with me and his jerk chicken recipe is fantastic and something totally different as it has so many spices. It’s great for the BBQ and easy to do.

See you next week for some totally unique Valentines ideas, allowing that romantic part of you to escape!

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 whole free range (campo) chicken

2 flat tablespoons all spice

1 flat tablespoon freshly ground nutmeg

1 flat tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 tablespoon chili powder

1 flat tablespoon ground ginger

1/2 tablespoon ground cloves

1/2 tablespoon celery salt

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon Maldon salt

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

2 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed and roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce

2 tablespoons tomato ketchup

Juice of 1 orange

Juice of 2 limes

A little olive oil

Method

In a blender, place all the ingredients above and puree on high until smooth.

Put the chicken in a large plastic freezer bag and pour the marinade into the bag. Close the bag tightly and press with your hand until the chicken is evenly coated with the marinade. Place in the refrigerator and marinate for a minimum of three hours or overnight.

Before cooking, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.

Remove chicken and roast it in a pre heated oven at 180c  for 30-40 mins

Light the barbecue and let the coals burn down to a medium-high heat.

Remove the chicken from the oven and place on the bbq.

Cook the chicken without turning too much so that it crisps and looks dark and crispy for about 30 minutes.

Try and maintain a consistent temperature to cook the chicken through without burning.

The key is to cook the chicken just until the thickest part, usually the thigh, is done. To check it is cooked insert your thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, it should read 75c.

Cut the cooked chicken into quarters and serve with the tropical salsa along with rice.

Creole salsa

1 ripe papaya, with seeds removed and diced small

1 ripe mango, diced small

3 slices of fresh pineapple diced small

½ finely diced cucumber

1 finely diced red onion

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro/ coriander

2  jalapenos, seeds removed and finely diced

4 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir together, cover and place in the refrigerator for at least three hours. Serve with some black beans and rice (beans and grits) on the side.

We are back open on February 12!

You can email Steven any queries or questions on

[email protected]

Steven Saunders FMCGB

The Little Geranium

La Cala De Mijas

(Behind the Town Hall in central La Cala)

For bookings and Information visit ….www.thelittlegeranium.com

 

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