A taste of Barbados today - and it's not what you're probably expecting!
Princess' 4H club recently participated in our county extension's International Night. For their country, the club chose Barbados. The kids learned all kinds of interesting facts about their chosen country, and had to prepare a sample of the country's native cuisine. Well, it turns out that a common dish in Barbados is macaroni and cheese pie. It is macaroni and cheese made with Bajan (pronounced BAY-jun like Cajun) spices. One of the club members' moms made a big crockpot to share of this, and I have to tell you, it smelled oooooh. soooooo. gooooood! She shared the recipe for Bajan Macaroni Pie with everyone, and I decided to play with it, based on gluten issues, and some of the comments I heard from the kids regarding flavor.
SPH Bajan Inspired Rice Casserole Recipe
2 cups rice
2 quarts chicken stock (I use Pacific Naturals Free Range Chicken Broth), divided
olive oil for pan
1 pound ground turkey
salt and pepper
1 large green pepper, seeded and diced
1 onion, diced
1-2 tablespoons minced garlic (I use the kind from a jar - add more or less to your taste)
2 tablespoons paprika (I used 1 1/2 T. sweet, and 1/2 T. hot)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons dried parsley
couple shakes cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
2 tablespoons gluten free all purpose flour (I use Glutino brand)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (I use 365 Organic brand)
16 ounces grated cheddar cheese, divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Pour rice into a medium pan. Add 1 quart of chicken stock. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
While rice is cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ground turkey, season meat lightly with salt and pepper, and cook until nearly all browned. Add onion and peppers. Cook until onion is translucent. Add garlic and spices. Cook until garlic is fragrant, just a minute or two. Add flour, and cook for just another minute or two - to take the raw taste off the flour. Add mustard and remaining quart of chicken stock. Stir til starting to thicken a bit, then stir in all but one cup of cheese.
Stir meat/cheese mixture into cooked rice, then pour entire batch into a 9x13 baking pan. Spread evenly, and top with remaining cheese. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or til cheese on top is bubbly and starting to brown. Serve warm.
You can serve this as a main dish, like I did, or eliminate the turkey and use it as a side. In Barbados, the pie is served with flying fish.
One of the best parts about this dish as that it is spicy, but not the spicy that burns your mouth. It really warms you up from the inside out. It's a perfect quick and filling supper for these cool spring evenings, especially after a chilly afternoon watching a kid play a sport or pulling weeds in the garden.
Have your own International Night, and try something delicious from Barbados! Enjoy!