Saturday, February 26, 2011

Recipes: Experience Trinidad through Food - Pow and Macaroni Pie

Food is our common ground, a universal experience. – James Beard

Photo: anymouse1, Flickr ccl
Trinidad. Warm breezes, salt air, the scent of flowers. Palm trees rustling overhead sandy beaches... But we’re stuck here with howling wind, blowing snow and icy cold. Why not capture the flavour of the tropics for dinner tonight? How does a Trinidadian feast sound? These two recipes, for Pow and Macaroni Pie, will be sure hits. There’s nothing better on days like today than preparing the tastes and smells of faraway exotic lands. 

Don’t be intimidated by the Pow. They’re really easy to make; the baked Macaroni is as simple as you can get. Together they make a wonderful meal. You should check out the site the recipes came from. There's more amazing things there.

Trinidad Pow
Total time: about 2 1/2 hours which includes rising  and filling  |  Makes 12

If you’ve never had Trinidadian Pow you’re missing out on something very special. Apparently it is something that is loved by most, if not all, Trinidadians. They are basically steamed buns filled with a savoury filling (usually pork), but other meat or just vegetables can be substituted. 

The recipe seems a little involved, but it actually isn’t when you get into it. What you’re doing is making  dough, filling each piece and steaming. I cannot tell you how delicious these are. Well worth the (minor) effort. What else do you have to occupy your time on a cold Saturday.

Although the recipe below is for a meat pow, you can replace it with assorted vegetables. The sauce and great dough is really what makes these such a delight.

The ingredients are in three sections, so you can keep things straight.

2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
3 1/4 cup all purpose flour unsifted
margarine, for greasing bowl

1 1/2 lbs pork (or veggies) cut into small cubes (1/4”-1/2”)
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce

Sauce for filling:
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sherry (or dark  rum)
1/4 cup water

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add sugar, oil and salt. Let stand in warm place until bubbly (15 min.)

Add flour and mix to make a dough. Place on lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic (8-10 min.). Place in greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour or more).

While dough is rising prepare the filling and sauce. Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside. In a frypan, cook the pork in 1 tbsp oil over high heat until no longer pink, add onion, garlic, ginger sugar and soy. Cook 2 minutes. Stir in cornstarch mixture. and cook stirring until sauce thickens. Remove from the heat.

When risen, knead the dough for about 1 minute. Then divide the dough into 12 equal balls. Allow these to rest for 10 minutes. Roll each out to a 5” circle, with outer edges slightly thinner. The object is to have thinner dough on the top when you seal the POW.

Place 2 tbsp filling in centre of each circle. Pull edges up over, gather and give a pinch and a twist to seal. Place each bun on a piece of foil or parchment paper. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. While they are raising, you can put the macaroni pie in the oven to bake.

Once risen, steam the Pow (covered) for 12-15 minutes. We use an Asian bamboo steamer over a pot of boiling water, which works perfectly. If a steamer is unavailable use a colander over boiling water. Just ensure they don't touch the water surface or they'll get soggy.

Important: Don’t crowd the Pow in the steamer, or they won’t cook properly. Do in two or 3 batches if necessary. 

Serve warm or cold. Freeze if desired.

Trinidad Macaroni Pie
Total time: about 1 hour  | Makes 8 servings

Macaroni comes in various lengths. The image shows scoobidoo, because I had them. But you can use short macaroni or rigatoni, essentially any with a hole in it that the sauce can seep into.

Take care with the scotch bonnet pepper. If you touch your eyes, or anywhere sensitive before you throughly wash your hands, you will regret it. The end result is not fiery hot, though. It’s more of a delicious tinge of the exotic.

1 lb macaroni
2 eggs
1/2 lb cheddar cheese, grated
1 can evaporated milk
1 onion, finely minced
1/2 scotch bonnet pepper, finely minced

Preheat oven to 350°F. Boil macaroni in salted water. Drain and let cool.

Beat eggs in a large bowl, then add in the onion, pepper, cheese, salt, pepper, and evaporated milk. Place macaroni in an ovenproof dish. Pour the evaporated milk mixture over the macaroni.

Bake for 30-40 minutes. Let cool to set up for 15-20 minutes before serving.


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