Cooking meat in Haiti is not as simple as removing it from its package and throwing it on the grill or in the oven. Because much of the meat is purchased in the outdoor market, there are some extra steps for “cleaning” it.
Haitian cooks take a lot of time when preparing chicken to remove all the skin and any extra fat. They will then scrub each piece with limes and set them aside. After the thorough rub down, they will pour boiling water over the chicken and let it sit for about a minute. After they drain and rinse the chicken, they’ll add more lime juice and seasoning and then begin the cooking process.
In countries like Haiti where most families don’t have refrigerators and the meat is not always kept cold between the farmer and the market, these are important extra steps to protect against bacteria. According to many Haitian cooks, meat isn’t properly cooked without these steps. When I managed a guesthouse in Croix des Bouquets, our cook looked on with horror as I cooked up some chicken for a casserole. I had purchased imported chicken at a grocery store, took it out of the package, cut it up, and tossed it directly in the skillet. It took a while (especially in my broken Creole back then) to explain to her that this was ok and the chicken would be edible and wouldn’t make us sick. I can’t remember if she ate any of the casserole…
I’m so thankful not only for the delicious meals that Yvette cooks, but the care that she takes to prepare each one. Whether she is serving up a salad, meat, or anything in between, we can all enjoy her meals in peace knowing that they are safe to eat. And did I mention delicious?!