Chef Suzanne Barr Shares Two Afro-Caribbean Inspired Recipes: 100K Curry Chicken and Rosemary Socca
Top chef Suzanne Barr (pictured above) shares two recipes inspired by her Afro-Caribbean heritage – 100K Curry and Rosemary Socca. Photo: Samuel Engelking
Perhaps you know Toronto chef Suzanne Barr as a judge on television shows like Top Chef Canada and Wall of Chefs, or maybe you’ve eaten her comforting Afro-Caribbean fare at the Gladstone Hotel, Saturday Dinette or True True Diner.
Born in Toronto and raised in Plantation, Fla., Barr got her start as a private chef in New York, Miami and Paris before bringing her Afro-Caribbean inspired culinary talents back to her hometown. In her memoir, My Ackee Tree, Barr entwines food with her family’s Jamaican roots and recounts the stereotypes she battled as a Black female chef.
Here are two recipes that Barr has shared with us — 100k Curry Chicken and Rosemary Socca.
100K Curry Chicken
Where’s the vinegar? I’m in the poultry demo at the Natural Gourmet Institute, and I’m looking for the vinegar. The instructor is just patting the chicken dry and then nothing, no washing. What is this? Reports say that washing your chicken can cause bacteria to spread to kitchen surfaces and utensils. That will never stop Black folks from doing what feels right. In my childhood kitchen in Plantation, my mum would douse the chicken in vinegar for each and every dish. Roast chicken. Chicken in a bag. Curry chicken. My mum used store-bought curry spice for her curry chicken. I wanted to create my own spice blend and put my own stamp on this dish. It seemed to work! This is the dish that my angel investor fell in love with, and with his gift, Johnnie and I were able to open Saturday Dinette.
Makes 4 pancakes
Curry Spice Mix
1 tablespoon (15 mL) coriander seeds
1 tablespoon (15 mL) cumin seeds
2 teaspoons (10 mL) whole allspice
2 teaspoons (10 mL) yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons (10 mL) fenugreek seeds
1½ teaspoons (7 mL) black peppercorns
1 whole dried clove
2½ tablespoons (37 mL) turmeric
2 teaspoons (10 mL) ground ginger
1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon (2 mL) cayenne pepper
3 pounds (1.35 kg) chicken quarters
½ cup (125 mL) curry spice mix
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 teaspoons (10 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (30 mL) kosher salt
1 tablespoon (15 mL) canola oil
3 cups (750 mL) chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 whole Scotch bonnet pepper, any colour
4 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups (500 mL) canned coconut milk
Salt and pepper
2 cups (500 mL) steamed white basmati rice, to serve
For Garnish (optional)
1 cup (250 mL) toasted cashews
½ cup (125 mL) toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
Fresh cilantro leaves and stems
Make the Curry Spice Mix
In a medium dry skillet over high heat, toast the coriander, cumin, allspice, mustard, fenugreek, peppercorns, and clove for 2 to 4 minutes, until fragrant. Remove from the heat and let cool for 2 minutes. Transfer the spice mix to a spice grinder, mortar and pestle, or to a high-speed blender. Grind to a powder. Transfer the powder to a small bowl. Add the turmeric, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cayenne. Stir to combine. Set aside.
Make the Curry Chicken
Trim off any excess fat from the chicken. Cut each chicken quarter into 3 equal pieces and place them in a large bowl. (Using a serrated knife can be helpful for this, particularly on the skin.) Add the curry spice mix, garlic, onion, olive oil, and salt. Use your hands to massage the mixture into the chicken pieces until they are evenly coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place the chicken in the fridge to marinate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
Remove the chicken from the fridge. Place the canola oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add enough of the chicken (and the onions and garlic) to cover the bottom of the pot. Cook until the chicken is browned on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a clean bowl. Repeat until all of the chicken has been browned.In the same saucepan you used to brown the chicken, add the chicken stock, bay leaves, Scotch bonnet, and chicken pieces. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer, uncovered, for at least 35 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked and beginning to fall off the bone.
While the curry is simmering, place the potatoes in a medium stock pot. Fill the pot with water to cover the potatoes by at least 2 inches. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes, until tender. Drain.
Add the coconut milk to the saucepan with the chicken and stir to combine. Let simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Add the potatoes. Stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Toast the Cashews
Preheat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cashews and give the skillet a shake to ensure they’re arranged in a single layer. Toast for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the nuts are golden brown and fragrant. Immediately transfer the nuts to a medium bowl to cool.Just before serving, remove the bay leaves and the Scotch bonnet from the curry chicken and discard. To serve, place ½ cup (125 mL) steamed rice in each bowl. Ladle the curry overtop. Garnish each serving with some toasted cashews, toasted coconut, fresh cilantro, and mango chutney, if desired.
Standing in line with Johnnie on the cobblestone street outside our apartment in the city centre of Nice, we waited for socca. Chickpea flour, water, and oil poured onto a wide skillet and cooked on an open fire. Sprinkle of salt. Served on a paper plate. The nuttiness from the chickpeas, crunchy salt, the purest olive oil had me on tilt. Oil soaked the paper plate as we stood in the warm sun, not checking the time, just enjoying. It’s a vegan and gluten-free combination of pancake, crêpe, and dosa, and we made our own version at Saturday Dinette. We added a hint of rosemary and served it rolled, stuffed with lavender ricotta, and dusted with confectioners’ sugar with a drizzle of olive oil to finish it. I only wish we could have served it on paper plates.
Makes 4 pancakes
4 cups (1 L) chickpea flour
4 cups (1 L) water
1/3 cup (75 mL) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing the skillet
1 tablespoon (15 mL) sea salt
2 teaspoons (10 mL) chopped fresh rosemary
Flaky sea salt
Full-fat ricotta cheese (optional)
A glass of rosé wine (optional)
In a large bowl, add the chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt, and rosemary. Stir to combine. You should be left with a thick batter resembling pancake batter. Cover and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.
Preheat the broiler to high. Generously grease the bottom of a 12-inch (30 cm) oven-safe skillet or cast-iron pan with olive oil. Place it in the oven and allow it to heat up until almost smoking, about 6 minutes. Using a ladle, place 1½ cups (375 mL) of the batter into the pan and swirl it around. Use a spoon to help you smooth the batter out until it covers the bottom of the pan. Broil for 4 to 5 minutes, until golden and crispy. Slide the pancake onto a clean plate and repeat with the remaining batter.
Before serving, garnish each piece of socca with a sprinkle of sea salt and a dollop of ricotta, if using. Enjoy with a glass of rosé wine to complete the experience.
A version of this story was published on April 18, 2022
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