Posts Tagged ‘Recipes’

How to make Haitian meatballs

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

As I mentioned before, I’m not a big fan of Venezuelan food. Therefore, at home the kids mostly eat traditional Haitian cuisine. I remember how tired I would grow of some variation of rice and beans, so I try to throw in some pasta or grilled vegetables on the weekly menu.

Meatballs, or boulèt, is one of my favorite dishes. Haitian food is complicated to make, so I’m going to give you the basic directions to make the meatballs and will also include what I feel are some optional steps.

Here’s what you’re going to need to get started:

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Ground beef – this about 1 lb.

Bread (stale if you have it) soaked in water

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Spice medley – parsley, garlic, red and green bell peppers, green onions.

You’re also going to need this contraption:

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This is handmade mortar and pestle and a MUST in any self-respecting Haitian household.

First thing is to crush all the fresh spices in the mortar and pestle. Add some fine salt to your liking.

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Squeeze the excess water out of the bread and set aside.

Optional: 1) Add the juice of a squeezed lemon into the spice mix for acidity. 2) After squeezing the excess water out of the bread, you can mash it in the mortar and pestle too. 3) You can rinse the ground beef in a sieve to remove some of the blood. 4) Boil a small potato, peel it and crush it to add with the spices and bread.

Add the spices and the bread to the ground beef.

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I also like to to add a chopped medium-sized onion.

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Mix the spices, bread and onions and this what you get.

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You take the ground beef mixture with some all-purpose flour and start making the meatballs by rolling large spoonfuls between the palms of your hands (or however you like to make your meatballs round). Once the desired shape, roll them in the flour. In the meantime, heat up your oil – I like to use corn or vegetable.

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When the oil is hot (it bubbles when I put the end of a wooden spoon in it), start frying the meatballs.

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When they’ve browned on one side, flip them over.

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As with any fried food, I like to set them on a paper towel to drain any excess oil. In the interim, rinse and repeat for the remaining uncooked meatballs.

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And this, is the boulèt in all its glory.

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In our house, it’s usually eaten with white rice and red or black bean purée, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. Sometimes I accidentally get full eating them while cooking, so it can definitely stand alone.

Any questions?

Haitian Squash Soup

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

This post is a bit late considering that I wrote about it back in January. I am choosing to look at it as really early for next year :-).

For the New Year, I wrote about the Haitian tradition of eating soup joumou (pronounced joomoo)  on January 1st. New Year’s Day happens to also be Haitian Independence Day, thus making the celebration two-fold. Expat Mama had the great suggestion on posting the recipe for those of you who like to try new things.

In my family, as well as all the Haitian families I know, recipes are never written down. Up until a few years ago, I would still call my grandmother every time I was trying a more complicated Haitian dish and she would tell me from memory what to do. The good thing about many of the recipes is there is always room for improvisation. Over time, I have modified my grandmother’s recipes to make them more my own. However, soup joumou is not one of them. The recipe below is a mix of various family recipes that I have gathered which most closely resemble how I prefer to have soup joumou. It should feed four people. Feel free to ask any questions, and I’ll consult my grandmother for the answer.


1 lb. cubed beef stew meat2643_haitian_pumpkin_soup
2 boxes of frozen squash or one whole fresh one
1 malanga
2 onions-sliced
3 large carrots
6 medium potatoes
¼ lb spaghetti or noodles
2 limes cut in half
2 tsp. thyme
2 tsp parsley, 3 minced garlic cloves
½ cup scallions
salt, black pepper, and hot pepper to taste


1. Soak the meat in hot water and lemon and set aside in a bowl
2. Add seasoning (salt, black pepper, hot pepper, garlic, parsley) and let marinate for 2 hrs – this can be done the night before, as well
3. Boil meat in stockpot with 3 quarts of water until tender (about 1 ½- 2 hrs)
4. Add more water if necessary and remaining ingredients (malanga, potatoes, carrots, onions, scallions, thyme, squash) except noodles
5. Cook for 20 minutes and add noodles. Let simmer for 30 minutes to an hour.

And voila! The finished product should look something like the picture above.

Note: My mother has let this cook all night and it turned out fine. Traditionally, the spaghetti is not intended to be al dente, but you can cook it to your liking.

Photo courtesy of Whole Foods

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