Bahamas: Chicken Souse

Chicken Souse

Chicken Souse is the most requested dish.

Some folks think the best cure for a hangover is to have another drink – this further indulgence is sometimes referred to as “the hair of the dog that bit you.”

Richard, my uber-health-conscious husband, is quite concerned by that rational – indeed, concerned by behavior that would give one a bad hangover in the first place.

But I’m just sayin’….I’ve heard rumors that certain cultures have certain dishes that help ease the pain of an over-indulgent evening. The day after Super Bowl, for example, a reader living in New Mexico provided me a Southwest cure, a Cheesy Egg Scramble, for a hangover.

One year, Richard and I feasted on Chicken Souse while traveling in the Bahamas. The chef informed us this dish was the perfect cure for hangovers, and her patrons agree.

It must be the hot peppers that burn out the devil! Whenever handling hot peppers, make sure you wear plastic gloves. The seeds are napalm, and I’ve had many burns resulting from careless handling of hot peppers.

This is traditionally served with Johnny Cakes and grits. My mother used to make Johnny Cakes, as well. The ones we sampled in the Bahamas are very similar to her recipe, which includes a flour, cornmeal and sugar batter fried in shortening or bacon grease.

Recipe: Chicken Souse


  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, plus quartered limes for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 6 tablespoons (3 large) scotch bonnet, serrano or jalapeno peppers, plus extra for garnish
  • 1, 3 pound chicken, cut up, skin removed, bones attached*
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries or 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 pieces celery, sliced
  • 2 sweet bell peppers, seeded, membranes removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, plus extra sprigs for garnish
  • Cooked grits, optional


  1. Combine 1 tablespoon kosher salt, lime juice, garlic and chopped hot peppers in a casserole, large pan or Dutch oven large enough to accommodate chicken. Place cut up chicken into pan. Let marinate, refrigerated, 12-18 hours, turning chicken once.
  2. Heat oil to medium high in large heavy-bottomed pan or Dutch oven. Remove chicken from marinade, shaking off excess marinade and reserving marinade, and brown chicken on all sides. Remove from pan and reserve.
  3. Reduce heat and sauté carrots, onion and celery in pan. Sauté until just tender, about 5 minutes. Return browned chicken and reserved marinade to pan. Add water and allspice to pan to just cover chicken.
  4. Bring to a boil; cover then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer 45 minutes, then add bell peppers to pot. Cook until chicken is just cooked and falling off of the bone, an additional 20-40 minutes.
  5. Remove chicken; reserve meat and discard all bones. Bring stock to a low boil, stir in chopped thyme, and reduce liquid, uncovered, about 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, chop chicken in large chunks and return to stock. Remove allspice berries, if using, and serve garnished with thyme sprigs, chopped peppers and lime wedges.

*2 meaty breasts, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks

Marinate Time: 12-18 hours

Active Time: 20 minutes

Simmer Time: 60-90 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 4-6

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