One of my missions for this trip to Belize was to enjoy more traditional food. I started with the most logical option…finding the best Belizean Stewed Chicken with Rice and Beans. In the first week of my stay in Belize I probably ate WAY MORE Stewed Chicken with Rice and Beans than any human should, but it was for a good reason…right? Special note: Rice and Beans are mixed together…Beans and Rice are separate. It’s important to know this…they serve both and when you are asked ‘Do you want Rice and Beans or Beans and Rice?” they’ll definitely know you are a tourist if you hesitate…but it doesn’t matter anyway since Belizeans seem to love tourists.
Where to start? How about our drive from Belize City to San Ignacio? Seriously…we arrived in Belize about 1130am, so once we got to know our driver a bit I asked if she would mind stopping along the way for us to get lunch. We stopped at a grocery store along the Western Highway. The little old lady with a covered area setup in the parking lot was selling just what I wanted. In hindsight I wish I would have got her name or the exact location so that I could share the information with all of you, alas I did not get those details. Later that evening…yep…Stewed Chicken again. This time it was at Hodes in San Ignacio. I ate at Hodes several times last time I visited Belize, but I have to admit I was a bit disappointed this time around. Of course, their tortillas were still AWESOME. I ate Stewed Chicken with Rice and Beans a couple more times while in San Ignacio…Ko-Ox-Han-Nah (also known as Hana) and Flayvas. And, once while in Hopkins as Tina’s. None of the Stewed Chicken with Rice and Beans was bad, but a few were a little dry. So, you are probably wondering if I had a favorite. I did.
- The little old lady on the Western Highway definitely wins for the best Stewed Chicken, which is why I’m so disappointed that I didn’t get her name or more details. So sorry!
- Hana gets second place for Stewed Chicken and definitely first place for the rice and beans.
- As much as I hate to say it, Hodes takes last place. You just never know. They were great last year and pretty dry this year. I’m hopeful that we just hit them on a bad day.
My over-all impression of this traditional Belizean fare…EAT IT…you won’t be disappointed.
One more point about this traditional dish…it’s usually served with fried plantains and either potato salad or coleslaw. Best fried plantains goes to the Little Old Lady on the Western Highway.
Stewed Chicken with Rice and Beans
Left to right…Little Old Lady, Hodes, Hana, and Flayva’s.
The last part of this mission was to get the traditional recipe. I tried to get recipes off the internet last year, but they just didn’t work out. Turns out our transportation from the airport, Tosh (aka Sandra), was more than willing to give me her recipes. I didn’t ask, but I didn’t get the impression that she would mind me sharing. Please keep in mind, I was scribbling while she was telling me what to do so these instructions are very sketchy. Although, I think I at least captured the key ingredients and/or instructions.
Rice and Beans
1 package of Coconut Powder for 2 pounds of rice.
Red, Black, or Kidney Beans (I’ve noticed they use a lot more rice than they do beans, but Tosh says the ratio is not too important).
¼ teaspoon Salt.
Keep 1 ½ inches of water above the rice.
Cook low and slow.
***That’s all she told me. We later got a ride from her daughter from San Ignacio to Hopkins. Danielia admitted that it took her several attempts to get it right, so not be discouraged.***
Chicken parts (I noticed they usually use chicken with bones and skin…I will try chicken breasts, but it might not work out…we’ll see).
Recado (it’s a Jamaican spice…she also mentioned something that sounded like Actota which is a Mexican spice…spelling may be completely wrong).
Cook chicken slowly.
***Yep…that’s all I got. As for the Recado , I have no idea how much to use so I’ll experiment. In place of Recado she recommended making a substitute (see recipe below).***
½ Spoon of Sugar
***Surprise, surprise…nothing overly specific about the recipe. I can understand why her daughter, Danielia failed a few times before getting it right. Maybe I’ll post a follow-up once I get the details ironed.***
If any of you get brave and decide to use these very cryptic recipes let me know how it comes out. Coming soon…my lobster tasting blog post and Raggamuffin’s ceviche recipe.