This weekend is truly super. It is the beginning of Trinidad's Carnival 2013, undoubtedly the biggest and best party on earth. Hundreds of thousands of multinational revellers will be dancing in the streets. The essence of Trinidad's Carnival is about participation and the personal experience. Carnival also breeds spectators, sidewalk and porch perchers, seeking less exercise while hiding from the sun. There may also be a few who choose the couch to watch the play by play, totally safe, from their TV. The players will extol toned physiques in skimpy costumes grinding to the Road March tunes.
My super weekend is traditional Trini starting with one of our national dishes — pelau. In the assisting troupes and bands are barbecued pork ribs and chicken legs, coleslaw, and boiled ripe plantain. All dishes have the same basic marinade so no weird flavour combos to deal with. Whether wining, grinding, cheering or jeering this menu is perfect, nothing too messy that can't be wiped with a napkin. Everything on this menu can be made without any haste in an hour. So you won't miss much of the party and will probably be the star of the fete.
My pelau is grainy. It is still a one-pot boil, not sappy, but drier. Pelau is the ultimate Trini super food, great fare any time anywhere, graciously chosen by the high and low rollers. I hate when pelau sticks together. Try my way and the rice will easily separate.
Ingredients: 3 pounds chicken pieces skinned and chopped small, 2 cups par boiled rice, half an onion chopped small, 2 pimento seasoning peppers chopped, 11/2 cup cooked pigeon peas, 2 cups coconut milk, 2 cups water, one1 tsp salt, two tbsp mixed green seasoning, two tbsp minced garlic, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp ketchup, 2 tbsp vegetable oil, 2 tbsp brown sugar,
Method: Season chicken pieces with salt, green seasoning, minced garlic, soy sauce and ketchup. Heat oil in a heavy pot, add sugar and allow to burn until brown. Add seasoned chicken and stir until everything is covered with the browned sugar. In another pot boil the rice with a pinch of salt until the rice is grainy, not soft. Drain and set aside. Add the onion and peas to the chicken mixture. Stir a few times and add the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until chicken pieces are cooked. Add rice and mix well. If rice appears lighter add more soy sauce.
Barbecued pork ribs
Ingredients: 1 rack of ribs –if shorter ribs are desired have the butcher saw the rack in half, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp minced garlic, 2 tbsp green seasoning, 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
Method: Season ribs with salt, black pepper, garlic, and green seasoning. Place on a non stick pan, cover, and let sit in the fridge at least two hours but over nite is better. Remove cover and coat with barbecue sauce. Cover and in a 400 degree oven for about forty minutes. Remove and test for tenderness by trying to pull ribs apart. If they do not separate easily replace covered in the oven for another twenty minutes.
Oven baked barbecued chicken legs – the leg can easily be held without getting messy hands
Ingredients: 3 pounds of chicken legs, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp minced garlic, 2 tbsp green seasoning, 1 cup barbecue sauce
Method: Season chicken legs with salt, garlic and green seasoning. Place the chicken legs in a baking dish and bake at 350 for forty minutes.
Remove from oven and drain off grease. Coat with barbecue sauce and return to oven. Bake for another fifteen minutes or place under broiler to get burnt colour.
Ingredients: 3 plantains almost ripe, 1/2