Ok doesn’t sound too scary does it? Well the idea for this dish came from my travels in Mauritius, at the popular Bois Cheri Tea Plantation on the Island, the restaurant there cooks up a Chicken dish cooked in vanilla minus the rum.
Chicken & Rice is an ever-popular dish in my household and to tweak recipes and add little unusual twists along the way is rewarding if they actually work. In this case, this dish is also inspired by a Levi Roots recipe for Chicken with Rum & Nutmeg. I have adapted this to using thyme (very popular herb in Mauritian cuisine) and Pink Pigeon Mauritian Rum which has savoury hints of vanilla to add to the recipe.
Mauritian cuisine is a cross-over between Indian, Chinese, Creole, French influences and sometimes its difficult to pin down the origins of this cuisine, yet there is much room for inspiration and the historical connections to why our food is influenced by these different cultures under one umbrella is remarkable and ultimately led it to be refreshing for myself to pursue.
This is a dish that sparks the slightly unusual flavour combinations which marry quite well. Here I have used produce straight from the Island, but you can buy Mauritian Rum at certain stockists or if you have light white rum, place a couple of split vanilla pods into the rum and leave over weeks to spice the rum (you can also add cinnamon to it)
Mauritian Vanilla Rum Chicken
8 bone in chicken thighs, with skin
1/2 nutmeg grated finely or 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Juice of 1 lime
Salt & Pepper
1 tbsp pumpkin oil/ olive oil if not
50 ml light rum (Pink Pigeon Mauritian Rum)
300 ml chicken stock or water
5 bay leaves
1tsp thyme leaves
Put the chicken thighs in a large bowl, add salt & pepper, nutmeg and lime juice, cover and marinate for 1 hour in the fridge
Heat butter with oil in a pan over a medium-high heat, then add in the chicken thighs, cook until golden all over. Do this in batches if your pan is too small.
Add the rum, stock and bay leaves to the pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and let it cook simmering for 30 minutes or so covered.
Check to see if the chicken is cooked, pierce the thickest part with a knife, the juices should run clear. Check for seasoning, serve with coconut rice.
Here I used brown rice, instead of white (it takes longer to cook), using coconut milk instead of water to cook the rice, topping up with water if it is not enough or drys out to soon. Top off with fresh coriander leaves.