There is just something about food cooked over an open flame that makes it ten times better for me. Maybe it’s the cultural significance, knowing that our grandmothers and great-grandmothers labored outside on the fogon (fire hearths) to provide delicious meals for their families? Or maybe it’s that unique smoky taste that can only be achieved from cooking on an open fire? Whatever it may be, fogon cooking has a special place in the hearts (and stomachs) of Belizeans. From our coconut rice and beans to our soups, it’s always better when it’s cooked this way!
One classic favorite is the Escabeche – a savory chicken soup with lots of onions! On a fogon, the chicken is roasted before dunking it into its tart, flavorful broth filled with sweet onions. If you don’t have a fire hearth, a good broil will give the chicken that crispy skin so loved in escabeche.
• Whole chicken, cut into serving sizes
• 6-8 dried oregano leaves
• 8-10 All-spice seeds
• Vinegar or sour oranges if available
• Black pepper
• Chicken consommé
• 6-8 bay leaves
• 3lbs large white onions
• Jalapeño peppers (can be canned but preferably fresh)
1. Clean chicken by soaking in water and vinegar.
2. Placed in large pot along with salt, pepper and chicken consommé to taste, oregano leaves, all-spice seeds and bay leaves.
3. Add enough water to cover chicken and bring to a boil for about 20 – 25 minutes.
4. While chicken is boiling, peel and cut white onions into rings and set aside.
5. Once chicken is cooked, remove and let cool.
6. Add the cut onions to the chicken broth along with whole jalapenos and vinegar (or the juice of sour oranges) to desired tartness and let simmer.
7. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, either deep fry in oil, broil in oven, or roast in a grill over open flames.
8. The soup is finished cooking once it is boiling or when the onions are soft to the touch.
9. Serve the onion soup along with a piece of chicken and jalapeno.
10. Best enjoyed while hot with fresh corn tortillas. (Some weird people, like our Associate Editor Mary, prefer it with white rice, but she’s a strange one!)