This Poulet En Sauce (Haitian Chicken Stew) recipe is rich and full of amazing flavors. With delicious tender pieces of chicken, simmered with garlic, onions, and sweet bell peppers, this flavorful stew is perfect over a bed of rice.
For a delightful outer crust and juicy on the inside, the chicken pieces are first pan-seared, then simmered in a rich, dark red stew sauce.
A quick version that tastes like it’s been simmering all day!
Haitian Chicken Stew (Poulet En Sauce)
Here’s the real deal when it comes to making Haitian dishes. Like any other cuisine, there are so many versions of poulet en sauce or chicken in Creole sauce.
Sometimes, meat stews are even served with fried plantains as well.
First and foremost, I must warn you that Haitian stews need a lot of patience. For example, most meats or fish are marinated overnight. Then boiled, and pan-fried for browning, and later finished in a rich red, tangy-lemony sauce.
It’s incredibly comforting and delightful.
When preparing Haitian stews, the traditional method can take about more than two hours depending on the meat.
The browning process is highly important when preparing stews. The flavors are added as the sauce is prepared. Almost like a layering effect.
Cleaning The Meat – Haitian Style
Cleaning poultry or fish when preparing a Haitian meat dish needs patience and certain “rules” must be followed.
We recently shared a video on our Youtube Channel showing step-by-step how Haitians clean meat.
When we clean meat, we often include vinegar; which I use the most to help clean and tenderize the meat, lime, and or sour oranges, and boiled water; here’s why:
The Meat: Haiti is a very hot and humid country. Most of the population does not have access to a refrigerator or frozen ingredients.
Most of our ingredients are bought the day the food will be prepared. Most of the ingredients are found in an outdoor market; some are covered and some are not.
Once you arrive home, the meat is cleaned to perfection and it is a process!
For example, all fats, blood vessels, and “gunk” must be removed. The skin is sometimes removed as well.
All of the small pieces underneath the muscle or bone must be removed. Otherwise, it will create a “raw” or uninviting order when cooking.
If you are not used to or are familiar with this method, it may sound crazy. But we could almost always tell if the meat has not gone through the proper steps of cleaning.
Believe it or not, not removing the fats and “gunk” (as I call it), actually makes a difference. The meat is not as “light” when you taste it.
In a nutshell, there should be little to no fat visible after the meat is cleaned.
If the skin is left on, it is recommended that you go underneath the skin to make sure you remove all the slippery substances as much as possible.
Slits are usually made on the meat to allow proper cleaning (I forget to do this sometimes), and also to allow the seasoning to manifest its way through the meat.
Distilled Vinegar: Some cooks will use vinegar as a cleaning method as it is a common belief that the acid will kill any bacteria in the meat.
I use this method the most for two reasons: it is embedded to clean meat this way, and it helps to soften the fat and make it easy to remove. Two, it also tenderizes the meat.
Limes / Sour Oranges: Limes are very commonly used when cooking, preparing, or cleaning meat in Haitian cuisine.
For example, the lime juice is used to marinate the meat/fish then is poured into a pot to help season the sauce.
We never discard the marinating sauce.
And the lime itself after the juice is squeezed out, is then rubbed on the meat to remove any bacteria or germs from prior handling.
Once the meat has been cleaned as mentioned above, then rubbed with lime and or cleaned with vinegar, the meat is then rinsed a few times in warm water. The FINAL step is to apply boiled water.
The Boiled Water Method
Boiled Water or Hot Water Bath: This is the final and most vital stage in the meat cleaning process. Even if you skip some of the above steps, THE MEAT MUST BE WASHED WITH HOT OR BOILED WATER.
Boiled water is often used as the last method to complete the cleaning process. Why? Haitian believe strongly in quick steam before seasoning can be applied to the meat for marinating.
Also, Haitians believe the hot water help to remove any bacteria that may have been left from the initial cleaning process.
No, the water does not “cook the meat”. Be mindful that the meat is not left in the water long enough for it to cook the meat.
The length of time usually lasts between 20 seconds to 2 minutes, and that depends on the quantity.
I usually boil the water and then pour it over the meat. Then, use tongs to transfer the meat from the hot water bath to a large bowl for seasoning.
Let’s Recap The Haitian Chicken Cleaning Process:
- We clean the meat by removing any and all fats, gunk, and or membranes or vessels as much as possible.
- Create a small incision on the meat.
- Rub the meat with acid: lime, sour orange if available, and or wash with distilled vinegar.
- Rinse the meat a few times.
- Then place the meat in a “hot bath” for a few seconds.
- Season the meat. Marinate.
I know! It sounds like a lot. But believe me, it MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE! Plus it eliminates the possibility of being sick from mishandled meat or meat that was not properly prepared. And it feels lighter in your mouth as you eat.
How To Make Poulet En Sauce?
The full recipe with the exact measurement and a step-by-step guide is listed below in the recipe card.
For now, here’s a quick guide to make it perfect.
Now that we have explained the cleaning process, let’s make this delicious stew. First, boil the water. While the water is boiling, squeeze out the lime juice and set aside.
Then remove all gunk and fats. After, rub the meat with lime. Rinse with warm water.
This Haitian Chicken stew is prepared with skin-on chicken legs and thighs.
Best to place the chicken in a colander, sink, or large pot and pour the hot water over the meat. You will notice that the meat will turn white.
I cleaned the meat using the process mentioned above, then marinated the meat for 30 minutes. But the longer the better. Overnight would be PERFECT.
Season the meat with the Haitian Epis, light salt, and lime juice. Set aside.
Next, add the meat to
A deep pan or heavy bottom pan is needed for this stew. I actually used a Dutch oven to prepare the stew, although, it is not necessary.
In a deep pan, heavy bottom pan, or a Dutch oven, pan-sear the meat. DO NOT discard the marinade as we will use it to add to the sauce.
Then, place the seared meat on a plated paper towel. DO NOT REMOVE THE BITS AND CRUMBS THAT ARE LEFT behind in the pan – EVEN IF THEY ARE A LITTLE DARK. Trust me. It makes a difference. Just don’t burn the skin.
Add the tomato paste, chopped onions, and garlic.
Do not dice the garlic. Use a mortar and pestle to smash or crush the garlic.
When crushing the garlic with a mortar and pestle, it will help to release the full flavor and juice of the garlic into the dish.
Not to say chopped or diced garlic will not provide the same flavor. I find that when you lightly crush or smash the garlic, this provides a more robust flavor.
Cook the garlic, tomato paste, and onions for about 1 minute on medium heat.
Then add the marinating base to the tomato paste mixture. Next, add the chicken and cover the chicken with the tomato mixture as much as possible. Allow it to cook and darken (cook for about 2 minutes).
Add the water into the marinating bowl and stir it around to get the leftover seasoning. Pour the liquid over the meat, adjust the seasoning if needed, and add the herbs.
Add the herbs, cover, and simmer. Then add the bell peppers and continue to cook for a few additional minutes. Remove from stove and serve warm. Enjoy with rice or your preferred side.
Frequently Asked Questions
Traditionally this stew is best enjoyed with red beans and rice, white rice, corn meal, boiled plantains, or bulgur (Ble).
You can use table spice seasoning. You can also use all-purpose seasoning (MSG Free). The taste will alter slightly, but the ending result will be as delicious.
If you choose to use chicken breast, we recommend you use bone-in chicken breast in this recipe. Be mindful of your cooking time as you do not want the chicken breast to become dry.
Yes. You can substitute the fresh ingredients with powdered ingredients when applies. It will require some adjustments and the taste may be altered.
How To Store Leftover Poulet En Sauce?
This Haitian Chicken Stew is terrific to enjoy as leftovers! The flavors will continue to develop and will become stronger.
Store leftover Poulet En Sauce (Haitian Chicken Stew) in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
Transfer the leftover Poulet En Sauce to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months.
When ready to serve, allow thawing in the fridge overnight.
More Haitian Dishes To Enjoy
I hope this help clarify our method as to why we clean meat the way we do.
The information we have provided is based on cultural upbringing, and it is the method we use today to prepare meat dishes for our family.
Once you are done preparing this delicious Polet En Sauce (Haitian Chicken Stew) recipe, we recommend you try one of these recipes next.
It warms our hearts to see the recipes you make from our site.
Also, we would appreciate it if could give it a star rating below!
Poulet En Sauce (Authentic Haitian Chicken Stew)
- Heavy Bottom Pot or Dutch Oven
For The Chicken
- 5 Chicken Legs; the skin on or off
- 5 Chicken Thighs; the skin on or off
- 1 tsp. Kosher Salt
- ½ cup Haitian Epis
For The Haitian Chicken Stew (Poulet En Sauce)
- 4 Tbsp Canola Oil; Vegetable oil, or peanut oil will work.
- 4 Cloves Garlic; crushed or smashed in mortar and pestle
- 3 ½ Cups Water boiling
- 2 Lemons Or Limes juice squeezed then reserve the lemons or limes
- 6 tablespoon tomato paste; Or half of a 12 Oz. can
- 1 Bell Pepper; Sliced and seeds removed. You can also mix the bell peppers for a vibrant color.
- 6 Sprigs Fresh Parsley
- 5-6 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Salt and Pepper To Taste
- 1 Medium Yellow Onion; Cut in half: Half sliced and half diced
- Clean the chicken thoroughly. See the directions in the post. Season the chicken with the Haitian Epis and salt. Marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes. Best overnight. In a heavy bottom pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add oil and sear the meat on both sides until lightly golden brown; do not discard the marinating sauce that's left behind in the bowl as we will use it. Sear the meat in batches to make it easy to brown. While the meat is browning (or once you have browned all the meat), add the water to the marinating bowl. Stir to mix the liquid and the seasoning together. Set aside. Remove meat from heat and place on a plate.
- In the same pan, sautee the dice onions and garlic until fragrant (about 45 seconds), then add the tomato paste and a few pieces of the sliced bell peppers. Stir to combine. Next, deglaze with about ¼ of the seasoned liquid. Then add the chicken and the juice from the plate. Quickly spoon a few of the onion mixture pieces onto the chicken. This will give it a reddish color.
- Add the remaining ingredients: lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and herbs, and season with salt and pepper to taste, and bell peppers.
- Stir lightly. Cover. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes over medium heat.
- Reduce the heat to low. Uncover the sauce and add sliced onions. Add more seasoning if needed. Stir lightly, cover, and simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes on low heat. Serve warm with rice or your preferred side and enjoy!