Bertie’s Trinidad Pelau (recipe)

Bertie's Trinidad Pelau

This post was originally published on September 17, 2008. It has been updated twice since then.

My father’s pelau is (not surprisingly) my favourite and has been a staple over the long Carnival weekend in my family, for as long as I can remember.

Now my father is a man with a very narrow cooking repertoire, but what he does do he does well. You’ve already experienced his truly excellent pepper sauce, so why not give this one a try? :) This recipe is his as he gave it to me when I moved off to college :)


Bertie’s Trinidad Pelau
Yields: one Dutch Oven

INGREDIENTS:

4 lbs mixed chicken pieces
1 large onion
2 large tomatoes
1 whole head of garlic
2 tins pigeon peas
2 lbs brown rice
cooking margarine
2 scotch bonnet peppers
1 kettle of hot/boiling water

One large batch of seasoning (1 rounded tsp salt, 1 rounded tsp pepper, chopped chives, 1 tsp thyme, 4 cloves chopped garlic, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp Angostura bitters, 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp. soy sauce and 1 tbsp. ketchup)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Place chicken pieces in large glass dish.
2. Sprinkle seasoning over meat.
3. Add 2 teaspoons of salt, a few shakes of black pepper.
4. Add several dashes of worcestershire sauce and soy sauce.
5. Allow to stand overnight in the fridge (if yuh in a rush 1/2 hours at room temperature is my personal minimum… however, if yuh goin’ an’ rush pelau doh come complainin’ to meh about de results :P)

6. Place 3 tablespoons of oil in a stew pot (or dutch oven).
7. Bring to high heat and add one level tablespoon of sugar and allow to brown

8. Cook chicken until skin pulls away and chicken is -half- cooked.
9. Empty chicken into bowl.
10. Finely chop the onion, garlic, and tomato – place into a separate bowl

11. Pour chicken into a 6-8 quart pot.
12. Empty pigeon peas into the pot with the chicken.

13. Add 2 cups of hot/boiling water.
14. Add the seasonings and salt and black pepper
15. Stir pot to integrate all contents until pot starts to boil again.
16. Add 3 tablespoons of margarine to pot and drop in scotch bonnet peppers.
17. Turn down heat to medium
18. Add 2 potspoons of ketchup to pot and stir (doh buss de pepper!!! :) )

19. When seasoning has softened add 5 cups of rice
20. Stir pot to mix evenly and cover.
21. Maintain moderate to low heat so that the pot continues cooking. Stir periodically to ensure even mix and cooking of rice.
22. Add 1/4 cups of hot water as necessary until rice is cooked and grainy (Basically as the rice slowly swells the water level will drop. Add water periodically to keep the liquid on level with the rice grains. Stirring each time to ensure even cooking).
23. When grains are cooked remove cover.
24. On low heat allow pot to continue to simmer until moisture disappears.


25. EAT!!! :)

This recipe is an exclusive TriniGourmet original. Please do not share it or post it to your site without crediting TriniGourmet.com and linking back to this site :)

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Passionate foodie, founder of Trinigourmet and Caribbean Lifestyle Maven. Author of "Glam By Request: 30+ Easy Caribbean Recipes"

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  • http://twitter.com/da_ticklah/statuses/1059917048 da_ticklah (da_ticklah)

    Party Super Party Birthday dinner was served, tinyurl.com/3gjb5f

  • http://twitter.com/afrobella/statuses/956020545 afrobella (afrobella)

    Recipe time. Tomorrow I plan to make a Trinidadian staple — pelau. Got a great recipe on Trini Gourmet – tinyurl.com/3gjb5f

  • http://twitter.com/basantam/statuses/1224869928 basantam (basantam)

    I made a mean chicken pelau tonight. What’s a pelau you say? See @trinigourmet ‘s recipe tinyurl.com/3gjb5f

  • Danielle I

    :) I like recipes that I can easily modify so that I am able to eat them :)

    No peppers or onions for this tummy. I’ve been eating a lot of brown rice lately and have been looking for different things to do with it. This shall be my next adventure maybe as soon as this weekend :)

  • Danielle I

    :) I like recipes that I can easily modify so that I am able to eat them :)

    No peppers or onions for this tummy. I’ve been eating a lot of brown rice lately and have been looking for different things to do with it. This shall be my next adventure maybe as soon as this weekend :)

  • http://www.coffeeandvanilla.com Coffee and Vanilla

    I love pelau and make it sometimes, without the beans, with lots of thyme. Achiote is one of the flavours of Sazon… and I was always wondering how does it look like, thank you for writing about it and also for letting me me discover your blog :)

    Margot

  • http://www.coffeeandvanilla.com Coffee and Vanilla

    I love pelau and make it sometimes, without the beans, with lots of thyme. Achiote is one of the flavours of Sazon… and I was always wondering how does it look like, thank you for writing about it and also for letting me me discover your blog :)

    Margot

  • http://www.theperfectpantry.com Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    This was one of the dishes I really fell in love with when I visited Trinidad.

  • http://www.theperfectpantry.com Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    This was one of the dishes I really fell in love with when I visited Trinidad.

  • ANT

    This look fantastic!!
    Thanks for the brown rice version.

    All of the ingredients I have at home (except scotch bonnet), but why doesn’t it look like that when I cook it.

    There is something extra in there that gives it that TRINI taste..what is it?
    (probably the scotch bonnet, huh?)

    I will try it soon. Thanks for posting and the pictures are such great help.

    …my mouth is watering.

    -Ant
    VA, USA

  • ANT

    This look fantastic!!
    Thanks for the brown rice version.

    All of the ingredients I have at home (except scotch bonnet), but why doesn’t it look like that when I cook it.

    There is something extra in there that gives it that TRINI taste..what is it?
    (probably the scotch bonnet, huh?)

    I will try it soon. Thanks for posting and the pictures are such great help.

    …my mouth is watering.

    -Ant
    VA, USA

  • http://www.recipesquadron.com Recipe Squadron

    Great website with wonderful easy to follow recipes. In the process of collating favourite recipes and this pelau a mixture of the quick one and Berties longer version was a sure hit with my Trini relatives – i’m English and just substituted pork as that was what I had in the fridge. Thanks. :)

    Recipe Squadron’s last blog post..Sweet Sticky Ribs With Red Onion Salad

  • http://www.recipesquadron.com Recipe Squadron

    Great website with wonderful easy to follow recipes. In the process of collating favourite recipes and this pelau a mixture of the quick one and Berties longer version was a sure hit with my Trini relatives – i’m English and just substituted pork as that was what I had in the fridge. Thanks. :)

    Recipe Squadron’s last blog post..Sweet Sticky Ribs With Red Onion Salad

  • Christine

    Hi!! I love your recepies!! I have a question about this one though… the seasoning to season the meat has salt and pepper and worstashire and soy….but if you look at steps 3 and 4 you are putting more salt pepper and soy and worstashire sauce…is that a typo or are you supposed to add more? Also where do you put the rest of the garlic? Instructions ask for a whole head but I only see where you want to add 4 cloves. Then in step 14 you say add seasonings again with more salt and pepper…Sorry for misunderstanding….

    Thank you for all your wonderful authentic recepies…I loves you!

  • Christine

    Hi!! I love your recepies!! I have a question about this one though… the seasoning to season the meat has salt and pepper and worstashire and soy….but if you look at steps 3 and 4 you are putting more salt pepper and soy and worstashire sauce…is that a typo or are you supposed to add more? Also where do you put the rest of the garlic? Instructions ask for a whole head but I only see where you want to add 4 cloves. Then in step 14 you say add seasonings again with more salt and pepper…Sorry for misunderstanding….

    Thank you for all your wonderful authentic recepies…I loves you!

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Hi Christine – woo that does sound confusing :) OK.

    The seasoning to season the meat will make a kind of paste. After rubbing that paste onto the chicken (and into little slits that you can make into it) you can add more worcestershire and soy sauce if you want :)

    The head of garlic is used in Step 10 :)

    The seasonings in Step 14, are everything that was chopped in Step 10 :)

    Hope that helps!

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Hi Christine – woo that does sound confusing :) OK.

    The seasoning to season the meat will make a kind of paste. After rubbing that paste onto the chicken (and into little slits that you can make into it) you can add more worcestershire and soy sauce if you want :)

    The head of garlic is used in Step 10 :)

    The seasonings in Step 14, are everything that was chopped in Step 10 :)

    Hope that helps!

  • Christine

    THANK YOU SARINA!!!! I want to impress my (hopefully) future Trini mother in law with this one, she made it on Thanksgiving….wooo hoo!!! Keep publishing your wonderful recepies….XXOO!!!

  • Christine

    THANK YOU SARINA!!!! I want to impress my (hopefully) future Trini mother in law with this one, she made it on Thanksgiving….wooo hoo!!! Keep publishing your wonderful recepies….XXOO!!!

  • Boo

    HI,

    I can’t wait to try this recipe. There’s someone i want to impress with it. Thanks for the pictures, they sure help alot ;-)

  • Boo

    HI,

    I can’t wait to try this recipe. There’s someone i want to impress with it. Thanks for the pictures, they sure help alot ;-)

  • Sparkle

    I was looking for a recipe for pelau/cookup and thought this looked really good. I tried it tonite and it came out perfect! I will definitely make this over and over again… Thanx!!

  • Sparkle

    I was looking for a recipe for pelau/cookup and thought this looked really good. I tried it tonite and it came out perfect! I will definitely make this over and over again… Thanx!!

  • Sparkle

    I was looking for a recipe for pelau. I’m of East Indian background so we have our own variations but I wanted something with a definite West Indian flavour to it. I LOVED this recipe – I think it’s the best version of “cook up” I’ve ever made – my fiance is West Indian and he had 3 plates! The only variations were that I used parboiled white rice instead of brown rice – and I used tomato paste instead of ketchup. This is definitely a keeper, and I will be making it again and again :) I’m hoping you’ll put up a recipe for stew chicken soon! Thanx for sharing!

  • Sparkle

    I was looking for a recipe for pelau. I’m of East Indian background so we have our own variations but I wanted something with a definite West Indian flavour to it. I LOVED this recipe – I think it’s the best version of “cook up” I’ve ever made – my fiance is West Indian and he had 3 plates! The only variations were that I used parboiled white rice instead of brown rice – and I used tomato paste instead of ketchup. This is definitely a keeper, and I will be making it again and again :) I’m hoping you’ll put up a recipe for stew chicken soon! Thanx for sharing!

  • mas

    Great site for some real ole fashion Trini cooking. I have a scotch bonnet pepper tree and picking them as they ripen. I’ll have to try and make the sauce but with out the boiling part. You can not make a good “cook up” unless the pot goes Wooosh!! Enjoy.

  • mas

    Great site for some real ole fashion Trini cooking. I have a scotch bonnet pepper tree and picking them as they ripen. I’ll have to try and make the sauce but with out the boiling part. You can not make a good “cook up” unless the pot goes Wooosh!! Enjoy.

  • Jean

    Thanks a milion!
    You have inspired me to go in search of scotch bonnet and pigeon peas first thing tomorrow.
    I can’t wait to see what else comes out of your kitchen and mine.

  • Jean

    Thanks a milion!
    You have inspired me to go in search of scotch bonnet and pigeon peas first thing tomorrow.
    I can’t wait to see what else comes out of your kitchen and mine.

  • Que

    Sarina, is there a vegetarian or pescetarian version? Will fish work as a substitute for the chicken? I’m thinking of using salmon steaks.

  • Que

    Sarina, is there a vegetarian or pescetarian version? Will fish work as a substitute for the chicken? I’m thinking of using salmon steaks.

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Thanks for the kind comments everyone, they really make me smile! :)

    Que – I believe that a sturdy fish such as swordfish (cubed) should do well in a dish like this. I have also seen some tofu versions (I would probably marinate and lightly fry the cubes first). Hope that helps! :)

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Thanks for the kind comments everyone, they really make me smile! :)

    Que – I believe that a sturdy fish such as swordfish (cubed) should do well in a dish like this. I have also seen some tofu versions (I would probably marinate and lightly fry the cubes first). Hope that helps! :)

  • Kaj

    Luv it!!!!!!

  • Kaj

    Luv it!!!!!!

  • http://kidfriendlyja.wordpress.com/ Gayle

    Nice … one thing I fraid to cook is a pot of pelau ( never learnt it while home and I can't brown sugar to save my life) but this looks doable thanks for sharing it

  • Marianabark

    How does the rice look so dark? Mine has come out, twice, looking pale colored. What's happening?

  • Rowangeo

    Hi, is adding cocunut milk authentic Trini pelau?

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina – Trinigourmet

      Hi there, some people do! It is an addition that is not necessarily frowned on so go ahead and enjoy :)

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina – Trinigourmet

    Hi there, some people do! It is an addition that is not necessarily frowned on so go ahead and enjoy :)

  • Gizelle

    Having actually had the original Bertie's pelau what seems like aeons ago, I was glad that I could replicate it here and almost think I was back in Maraval again :)

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina – Trinigourmet

      Gizzeeeee!!! :) thanks for popping by! Dad will be soo happy to hear this :) Hope all is well?

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina – Trinigourmet

    Gizzeeeee!!! :) thanks for popping by! Dad will be soo happy to hear this :) Hope all is well?