Watching my lucky neighbors go off to their lake side cabins or other getaways, wishing I was somewhere else, I thought about Haiti, our friends’ ocean side beach homes and the feasts we used to have; lambi, griot, cabrit boucane, fresh grilled fish and rock lobsters from the fishermen’s boats, banane pese, poulet creole with rum punches and whole bottles of Barbencourt rum and Johnny Walker Red on each table. Our friends brought their house help along who cooked on the beach, bargained for fish and blessed us with a carefree visit. I love Haitian food and nostalgically, time on my hands with nowhere to go, I thought about making cabrit boucane (Haitian barbecued goat).
Weiss supermarket, bizarrely I thought, used to have frozen chunks of goat meat in their foreign food refrigeration section. I guess, no more. I did have what was called a leg (4.5 lbs) of Australian lamb from Wegman’s in my freezer. Unstoppable, I decided to substitute that for the goat.
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A boucane marinade is usually made with sour oranges. None around here. I substituted with a mixture of lime, grapefruit and orange juice and used habanero chillies for the usual scotch bonnet chillies.
I marinated the meat overnight but 2-3 hours will work also and give you time to make the pikliz.
To make the spicy relish, grated carrot, thinly slice onion and cabbage with 4 habeneros/scotch bonnets and spices are mixed together with vinegar and stored in jars on a counter at room temperature for 2-3 days for the best taste, but you can eat some immediately.
Refrigerate after first use. Advice: Don’t hurt yourself, use a food processor to grate and slice the vegetables.
The lamb did not make an authentic cabrit boucane, but it was good. The crusty chunks of lamb/goat with pikliz makes a perfect appetizer for cocktails.
Haitian Style Lamb Boucane
4 1/2 -5 lbs boneless lamb leg, cut into large chunks
Juice from 2 limes
Juice from 1 grapefruit
Juice from one orange
1 habanero chilli, quartered
1 bouquet garni
Small bunch of parsley, stems discarded and leaves chopped
2 large shallots, chopped
4 cups water
Mix the lime, grapefruit and orange juices together and pour over the lamb. Stir in the chilli, bouquet garni, parsley and shallots. Refrigerate overnight.
Remove the lamb from the refrigerator, add the water, bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 hour. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon into a drainer and lightly rinse with water to remove marinade ingredients. Dry meat with paper towels.
Heat the peanut oil, then fry the lamb until crusty, golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
4 habanero chillies, quartered
2 -3 cups cabbage, thinly sliced
2 carrots, grated
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 whole cloves
1 tsp salt
10 red peppercorns
4 cups vinegar
Mix all ingredients together, then store in a jar for a day or two. Refrigerate after first use. Lasts forever.