11 July, 2007

Bileez Kriol Stew Chicken

Today we begin cooking Belize-style. We're starting with a simple recipe called "Bileez Kriol Stew Chicken", or just "stew chicken."

"yu kyaahn travl pahn emti stomak."

So, to get in the proper mind-set for handling this recipe, you need to at least know what Kriol is. The saying in bold above is Kriol for literally, "You cannot travel on an empty stomach."
The Creole (or Kriol as is really proper here in Belize) came about from the interaction of British (mostly Scottish) Baymen with African slave women as mistresses and common-law wives. Many of these women were later freed. Any resulting children became free people of color. This mixture of European and African slaves created the Creole population and the Kriol language developed as a mix of West African languages, modified via Jamaica, and English of the Baymen. You can learn more about Kriol at The Kriol Council of Belize website (

Having introduced you to Kriol, Stew Chicken, the way it's done here, is not strictly a Kriol dish. It uses as a primary spice, something called "recardo" - red recado (achiote paste) is a mix of annatto/achiote seeds (Achiote is the seed of the Annatto plant, also known as the "lipstick tree"), cumin, cloves and other spices. We get ours from Peter and Julia, our favorite vendors at the Corozal market. It's also available locally from Caribbean Chicken. La Perla (, is a California company specializing in Mexican spices, sells recardo - achiote (recado rojo) in powder or blocks, online.

So, there is a strong Mayan/Yucatan/Mexican influence going on here - which is in keeping with the melting pot nature of Belize.

In any case, everyone here knows stew chicken and likes it - especially accompanied by rice and beans (usually asked for in restaurants as "rice and beans with stew chicken", or stew pork or beef, or whatever.

On to the recipe... This one is a mix of three or four that I found online. As near as I can tell, this is in keeping with Belize tradition - everyone has their own twist on the recipe - a pinch of this, a dash of that, so that it becomes individualized, but maintains the central essence of the dish.

  • 1 large stewing chicken, cut up at least into four parts
  • 6 limes for juicing (I quarter the limes and crush them using a heavy water glass in a small pot)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 sweet pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 1/2 balls of red recardo (about 1 1/2 tablespoon, more or less)
  • Salt, if desired
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 2-3 tablespoon vinegar
  • Several cups water
Squeezing the limes
The observant chef will see I'm not using the red juicer above. We found it after I was almost done juicing the limes my way.
Getting ready to wash the chicken with lime juice and water
  • Cut chicken into pieces and wash with lime juice and water. Discard liquid when done.
  • Mix recardo with vinegar, salt, pressed garlic, peppers, soy sauce, onion, and water. Add chicken and marinate as desired.
  • Heat oil in frying pan until oil is hot. Add sugar and let it brown.
  • Brown each piece of chicken and put in another pot (I use a crock pot).
  • After adding all the chicken pieces, pour the spice marinade mix into the pot with the chicken.
  • Add water to cover.
  • Cook till the chicken falls off the bone.
Serve with rice and beans.

Note: Fried plantain makes a great addition.
Stew Chicken - Ready to Eat
All that's needed now is rice and beans and a few pieces of chicken on top. Garnish with the plantain. Ummm Mmmm, Good!

Just a quick update... We ate some last night with rice and beans, all made in the traditional manner. All I can say is it was really good. I forgot to take photos of the plates, brimming with rice and beans and stew chicken - Maybe tonight's dinner will be photographed.

Also, that pot above gave us two or three large containers of stew chicken and gravy that we froze for future use as well.

1 comment:

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