If you’ve ever dreamed of living on or visiting a tropical island, Eddie Usher’s Isla Marisol, located off Glover’s Reef atoll on a UN World Heritage site, can’t be beat. Short of stepping foot on the island, you can indulge in his cook, Miss Feliciana’s “Belizean Bake Chicken,” and get a small taste.
And that’ just what I might do this weekend.
My life overflows: a largely content husband, two healthy, academically-engaged teenagers, a surefooted step up into a long-awaited teaching and writing career, a dog and three happy old chickens who will be spared this latest post. Yet, we are a bit tired from pushing through the semester without taking a chance to really get away.
Perhaps, this weekend I will deviate from my family’s 9-month flirtation with veganism—which we manage to hit, honestly only 85% of the time—and stuff my mouth—eat your heart out Mick Jagger—with a few tasty morsels of Belizean chicken.
Ssssshhhhhh… don’t tell Stripey, Roadrunner and Brahma Mama. My chicky-girls have been happily on an egg-laying break since we’ve gone vegan, well almost-vegan. I’ll leave them on their own virtual island.
The recipe below is more than a recipe. Forwarded to me by Eddie’s wife, Martha, the flavors put me back on the island when Miss Feliciana, the cook, would gather my then smaller children at her apron strings and usher them into her clapboard-sided kitchen.
Before long my girls were humming Spanish songs with her. As their giggles rose above Miss Fel’s peels of laughter, they chopped vegetables and helped her prep Belizean chicken over the mingling aromas of fresh pineapple, caramelized plantains and piquant cilantro.
After a day spent diving canyons on the open-sea side of the island, chasing dolphins and lobster in the turquoise lagoon abutting the atoll or diving the bottomless pelagic in search of whale shark, a meal of Caribbean cole slaw, Belizean chicken, beans and rice and an ice-cold Belikan was only topped by Miss Feliciana showing my girls how to gather hermit crabs from the palm trees for hermit crab races.
Instead of firing off emails for Caribbean reservations, it might be time to fire up the grill. I can smell fun cooking already!
What do you do that gives you a small break from the hectic everyday and puts you on a far away island?
This recipe is a cultural treasure and has been left in its original form, compliments Martha, Isla Marisol Resort Reservations.
Some Belizean chicken recipes call for recado, which is a spice rub used in Belizean and Mexican cuisines consisting of achiote and other spice seeds ground together, mixed with vinegar and made into a paste rubbed on various meats before baking or grilling.
“Belizean Bake Chicken”
1 whole chicken cut in serving pieces
3 plugs garlic
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
1 cup ketchup
salt to taste
ground pepper to taste
1/2 carrots slice thinly
1 sm onion cut in julienne
1 tbsp paprika
Season All to taste
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 sweet pepper cut in Julienne
1 tbsp corn starch
Heat oven to 350 degrees
1. Season chicken with garlic, Season All, ground pepper, paprika, soy sauce and salt to taste.
2. Place chicken in a baking pan and bake until golden brown.
3. Remove from oven.
4. In a mixing bowl, combine cilantro, onion, carrots, sweet pepper, barbecue sauce, ketchup, gravy of the chicken, 1 tbsp corn starch. Mix well and pour over chicken and place it back into the oven for 20 – 25 minutes.
If you enjoyed my photos from Isla Marisol, visit their website at: islamarisolresort.com. You’ll find some of these photographs of mine and more there.