Suriname Dutch Chicken Casserole—Pom
Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser
Prep Time: 35 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Pom, pomtayer, tayer, malaga—this Caribbean and South American potato-like vegetable has many names. It also happens to be the name of a dish (just to make it all so confusing). Potatoes were most likely used in the original versions of the dish, brought to the New World by the elite Dutch Jews who came to Dutch Guyana (as it was called when they arrived in the 17th century). The substitution of pom was probably a geographically necessary change. Pom, the casserole, remains a national dish of the exotically beautiful country of Suriname long after the Jewish population dissipated. Taro, more commonly found on the West Coast, is a great substitute for pom, if you can find it. If you want to get super-traditional, poms are available online for door-to-door delivery. We tried this recipe with pom, taro, and then potatoes. The recipe here calls for the far-easier-to-find russet potatoes and was completely citrus-y and altogether yummy, by the pom had a wonderfully different texture. If you can find it, try it. Most recipes call for only orange as the citrus, and it's popular throughout Central America, Latin America and the Caribbean, but American palates aren't terribly accustomed to the orange and tomato mixture. If you've never had them together, just remember that tomatoes are actually citrus fruits.I'm no orange fan so I tried it with a mixture, like a Cuban sour orange (which I adore) and it was great. My husband loved the all orange version better. No matter which you use, have fun. All the variations really work well and its' a handy single pan casserole dinner. the crunchy, mild crust was a great contrast to the tart stew. And it just happens to be dairy free and gluten free!
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 small onions, roughly chopped (about 2½ cups)
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch chunks
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 pint grape tomatoes, each cut in half
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock, separated
Juice and zest of 2 small oranges or lemons, or a mixture of both
2 cups fire-roasted tomatoes, chopped, or canned chopped tomatoes
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, shredded in long strips, or pomtayer/malaga or taro, peeled, shredded in long strips, or a combination
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (about 1 large bunch)
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a casserole dish with nonstick cooking oil spray and set aside.
- In a medium-sized saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over high heat until it shimmers. Add the onions and stir, cooking for 8 to 10 minutes, until onions have softened considerably, are translucent, and just begin to brown at the edges. Remove the onions to bowl and set aside. Reserve the pan.
- Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan and heat until it shimmers again. Add the chicken to the pot in a single layer, dust with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper and sear until lightly browned. With tongs, turn the pieces, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and the remaining pepper and cook on the other side until lightly browned. It will not be fully cooked and that is just fine!
- Lower the heat and return the onions to the pan, stirring well. Add the grape tomatoes, 1 cup of the stock, the lemon juice and zest, fire-roasted or canned tomatoes, brown sugar, allspice, and nutmeg and stir well. Pour this mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
- Place the shredded potatoes into a large mixing bowl. Add the chopped parsley, the eggs, 1 teaspoon salt, the remaining stock and 1 tablespoon oil and stir to combine. Arrange this mixture evenly over the chicken stew mixture in the casserole dish. Drizzle the remaining oil over the potato layer and place in the oven.
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the potatoes are a deep golden brown and crunchy on top. Remove from the oven and serve immediately, or allow to cool and refrigerate, covered. To reheat, cover with foil and bake at 300°F until heated through; then uncover, increase the heat to 450° and allow the top to get crunchy again. The potatoes soak will have soaked up the liquid the second day and it won’t be as crunchy, but it will be equally delicious.
If you are an orange fan, you can substitute oranges for the lemons. Recipes abound for both versions.