There are many versions of Poulet a L’Haitienne, Chicken in Creole Sauce, or Poule en Sauce. In the Haitian culture, it is common for a dish to have several names depending on the part of the country a person lives.
I could go on with the different interpretation, but that would take too much time. One simple chicken dish with several names and all of them mean the same in Haiti or among Haitians living in the US. In other countries where another version of the Creole language is spoken, Creole Chicken or Chicken in Creole Sauce is cooked differently. The difference is the combination of spices. For example in Louisiana, Creole Chicken is chicken cooked in a vegetable tomato sauce.
In Haiti, the difference is the sauce that is made with tomato sauce and spices and added to the chicken after it has been marinated, boiled, and finally pan-fried for browning. The latter is a process that is very common for browning meat in Haiti. The browning process is achieved with patience. I am not kidding when I say patience.
I also added my Original Gourmet Hot Sauce to accentuate the taste of the other spices and the chicken. Whether you are mixing the hot sauce with the marinade or adding it to the creole sauce, your dish will be flavorful.
When watching a cooking show on television, always pay attention to the numerous tips the cook or chef will share about roasting meat and poultry. Many of them will talk about the bits and pieces or food crumbs stuck inside the pan or pot.
The bits or crumbs left in the pan make the sauce of the chicken taste better. In Haiti, as I said before, to be successful at browning meat you need patience. Remember the saying “patience is a virtue”? With chicken, it perfectly fits!
A heavy bottom pan is usually the best to use when browning meat. A little bit of oil and tomato paste will do the trick. The poultry may be slightly cooked but for this dish, the amount of time spent marinating should be enough. The chicken is slowly cooked in the oil mixed with tomato paste under low heat. For the process to be successful, I would recommend using a wooden spoon instead of a stainless steel spoon.
The metal may cut the poultry, and you will end up with smaller pieces of meat or poultry. Constant stirring is also required to avoid sticking. When the pieces of chicken are browned to your liking, they are removed from the pan, and a sauce is created with the bits left in the same pan. After the sauce is created with additional spices and onions, the chicken pieces are added back to the pan to continue cooking. So you see, patience is required for this dish.
The explanations may sound a bit long or too complicated, but they’re not. You just have to be very careful and not let the meat or poultry overcook before browning. If you can make this dish, there is no other meat with sauce dishes you will not be able to make. You will taste the difference and would want always to have a sauce with your meat.
By the way, I sometimes cut the browning process by boiling my chicken in the oven and then create my sauce with the leftover marinade/cooking liquid. It works just fine as well. So have fun browning your chicken.
A greedy tip to share: I love eating the leftover crumbs with bread. Shhh! Don’t say anything to anyone. It is a delicious secret.
Chicken in Creole Sauce (Poulet a L’Haitienne)
- 1 - 4 pound whole chicken cut up into pieces
- 2 limes
- 1 chicken bouillon cube or 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder
- 3 scallions cut thinly
- 1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or vinegar from Pikliz
- 1/4 cup parsley chopped
- 1 large sprig thyme
- 4 whole cloves
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 1/4 cup boiling water
- 1 onion sliced
- 1/2 green bell pepper sliced and optional
- 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper finely chopped or Gemma's Original Gourmet Hot Sauce
- Cut whole chicken into pieces and trim excess fat and remove skin if preferred. Take one lime and cut in half. Clean each chicken pieces by rubbing lime halves while squeezing some of the juice out. Repeat process for each chicken pieces. Rinse chicken well with water and pat dry. Add chicken to a large bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, mix juice of 1 lime (approximately 2 tablespoon), chicken bouillon, scallions, vinegar, parsley, thyme, cloves, garlic, pinch of salt, Original Gourmet Hot Sauce and black pepper. Add spice mixture and make sure all pieces are well coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Remove bowl from refrigerator and bring to room temperature. In a heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoon oil with 1/2 tablespoon of tomato paste under medium heat while stirring to mix. Remove chicken from marinade and slowly add to hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Brown chicken on all sides in batches. Transfer to a plate.
- Heat remaining oil in skillet add marinade to cook for 1 minute. Add chicken to pan and stir to incorporate. Add remaining tomato paste into 1 cup of boiling water to dilute and add to chicken. Cook covered over medium heat until chicken is fully cooked. Remove from heat, remove chicken from pan and strain liquid to remove extra spices residue. Reheat sauce in same pan, add 1/4 water (or more if necessary), season with additional salt and pepper and hot pepper or hot sauce if preferred. Add onion slices and bell pepper if using, and bring to a boil. (you may add an additional 1/8 pr 1/4 teaspoon of Gemma's Original Hot Sauce if you prefer).Once sauce starts to thickens, add chicken and cook uncovered for 5 to 7 minutes on medium to low heat. Remove from heat and serve immediately.