This Poulet En Sauce or Haitian Chicken Stew recipe is rich and full of amazing flavors. I am sharing with you the fastest way I make poule en sauce in little over 30 minutes.
Savory Thoughts: At first they’ll ask you why you’re doing it. Later they’ll ask how you did it. – Unknown
This Haitian chicken is pan-seared, then simmered in a rich, dark stew sauce. A quick version that taste like it’s been simmering all day!
About 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.
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 sauce.
This method can take about more than two hours depending on the meat. The browning process is highly important when creating stews. The flavors are added as the sauce is created. Almost like a layering effect.
Cleaning the meat – Haitian Style!
Cleaning poultry or fish when preparing a Haitian meat dish need patience and certain “rules” must be followed. I’ll be honest to say that depending on my mood, and who I am cooking for, I sometimes skip some of the steps. Sorry! 🙁 🙂
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 do 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. I know 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, by not removing the fats and “gunk” (as I call it), it actually make 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 substance 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 the 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: I grew up doing it this way, so it is embedded in me and I do not feel comfortable preparing my meat dishes without using this method. Two, it also tenderizes the meat.
Limes / Sour Oranges: Limes are very common to use 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, it 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.
Boiled Water or Hot Water Bath: This is the final and the 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. Length of time usually lasts between 20 seconds to 2 minutes, if that and that depends on the quantity.
I usually boil the water 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 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?
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 (pic 1). Then remove all gunk and fats. After, rub the meat with lime. Rinse with warm water (pic 2).
I made the stew with skin-on chicken leg quarters. This chicken stew recipe is a firm favorite any time of the year!
Best to place the chicken in a colander or large pot (pic 4) and pour the hot water over the meat. You will notice that the meat will turn white (pic 5).
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 and lime juice only and 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.
It has a super crispy skin smothered in a savory tomato paste sauce with onions, fresh herbs, garlic, and of course my Haitian Epis.
In a deep pan, heavy bottom pan, or a dutch oven, I pan-seared the meat (pics 7-8). 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 like I did while photographing the remaining pictures to share with you 🙂
Add the tomato paste, chopped onions garlic. You will notice in picture 10, I did not dice or chop the garlic. Reason being, you want the full flavor of the garlic in the dish. Not to say chopped or diced garlic will not provide the same flavor. I find that light smashing the garlic 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).
Picture 11 shows water in a bowl. That’s the bowl that was used to hold the meat while marinating. After you pour the sauce over the tomato paste mixture, add some water to the bowl and pour it over the meat.
Seriously, the smell as the sauce is prepared with the chicken fills the house, and when it’s paired with rice, it is simply wonderful!
Add the herbs (Pic 12), 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 preferred side :).
I hope this help clarify our method as to why we clean meat the way we do. The information I have provided is based on cultural upbringing, and it is the method I use today to prepare meat dishes for my family. I hope you found this post to be useful.
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Poulet En Sauce (Authentic Haitian Chicken Stew)
- 2 leg quarters skin on
- 4 cups water boiling
- 2 limes juice squeezed then reserve the limes
- ½ cup Haitian Epis
- 2 tbsp oil Olive oil, vegetable oil, or peanut oil will work.
- 2 cloves garlic crushed or smashed
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 medium yellow onion sliced
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley
- 1 tbsp thyme
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- half orange and red bell peppers sliced and seeds removed
- Boil 4 cups of water on medium heat. Squeeze out the juice from the limes and set aside. Do not discard the limes.
- Clean and wash chicken with the limes then rinse 3-4 times. Place the chicken in a large bowl or colandar, and pour the hot water over the chicken. Use a tongs to transfer the meat from the hot water bath to a large bowl. Season the meat with lime juice and Haitian Epis only. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes; best overnight.
- In a heavy bottom pan or Dutch oven over medium high heat, add two tbsp. oil and sear the meat on both sides until dark golden brown; do not discard the marinating sauce as we will use it. Remove meat from heat and place on a paper towel plate.
- In the same pan, sautee half of the onion and garlic until fragrant (about 45 seconds) then add the tomato paste. Stir. Then quickly add 1 cup water, stir, and add the chicken. Add the sauce to the chicken to help it obtain its reddish color.
- Pour the marinating sauce over the chicken, then add 2 cups water in the marinating bowl to help transfer any left over seasoning and pour it around the chicken along with apple cider vinegar, parsley, kosher salt, and thyme. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.
- After 10 minutes of simmering, uncover and add the bell peppers and the other half of sliced onions. Stir, cover, and simmer for the remaining 5 minutes.
- Serve warm with rice or preferred side and enjoy!