(131) Belize – Stewed Chicken

Altun Ha. Source: celebritycruise.com

Belize, a country of Central America, is known for its Mayan ruins, great blue hole, barrier reefs, and picturesque beaches. Situated by Guatemala, Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea, Belize consists over 50% jungles with 75% of the forests under protection.

The cuisine of this Central American country is a hodgepodge of diverse foods highly dependent on where you visit. Comprised of Mayan, British, Spanish, Creole, African, Indigenous, and Caribbean cultures the food scene does not disappoint. Popular dishes that Belize is known for include rice and beans, pibil pork, ceviche, johnny cakes, boil up, and tamales. There seems to be a little bit of everything in Belizean cuisine!

Stewed chicken might not be a “signature dish” but it includes several classic Belizean ingredients and seasonings. I would like to think a meal like this is commonly served on a weekend to share at a gathering or prepared when someone is sick. There are a few different variations, but most of the ingredients found here are consistent. The dish oozes comfort which is what we need during yet another late season snowstorm!

Cooking was simple, most of the ingredients I already had on hand or could easily get from the store. In hindsight I think mincing the ginger would have distributed the flavor more evenly and adding double the called for amount would have brought more of the warmth I crave.

The chicken was very tender and sweet from the coconut. The flavors of tomato and Worcestershire sauce came through, however if the chicken was marinated the flavors would have popped out more. It was still pretty good with 6.5/10 rating. Next stop.. Korea!

(80) Puerto Rico – Classic Fried Rice & Beans with Plantains

San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico. Source: Booking.com

Hey guys we have made it to 80 COUNTRIES! Isn’t that wild?! For our 80th we are in the lovely Puerto Rico, a country my good friend is from! Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory situated next to the Dominican Republic and the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean Sea. It is one of the most densely populated islands with a whopping 3.5 million citizens. The name translates to “rich port” and was named Puerto Rico because of the gold that could be found in the fresh water sources on the island. It is considered one of the oldest colonies of the world because it was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus in 1493. Today you can explore their numerous beaches and caves along with immersing yourself in the Spanish-Caribbean culture.

Puerto Rico has African, European (mostly Spanish), and Taínos (natives) influence that makes up their wonderfully unique cuisine. The native Taínos influence brings yucca/cassava, avocado, coriander, annatto, pineapples, peanuts, and various hot peppers to the table. The European flare comes from wheat, cumin, onions, garlic, cilantro, dairy, and various meats such as chicken, beef, and lamb. You can find connection to Africa with the use of coconuts, yams, coffee, and various banana fruits such as the plantain! Today I will be making an original recipe of my friend Zory who is from Puerto Rico. Fried rice and beans is a classic Puerto Rican dish that combines several savory Spanish ingredients and is cooked twice in or to achieve the dry and “fried” consistency. She also educated me on plantains and how they pair well with this meal- she wasn’t kidding! They are now one of my favorite salty treats and taste better than fries (in my opinion). The recipe will be available at the bottom of the post.

This meal does take some time, however if you prep as you go it all works out. We decided to air fry some adobo wings which seemed like an appropriate pairing to us. If you have never fried green plantains before make sure to have plenty of veggie oil to fry them with and keep an eye on them so they don’t over cook. The perfect plantain is a nice golden brown. Be warned the rice/beans and plantain combo is VERY filling!

Obviously we adore this dish and think highly of it. I have made it several times and think of it as one of my favorites. The plantains had a nice crunch and reminded me of fried potato. The rice was well seasoned and tasted great with the addition of black beans. Together it is a killer duo. We love love LOVE this dish and rated it 10/10.

Our next adventure awaits in Italy where we will spend one week trying traditional foods simple and complicated. See you next time!