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Chicken Pelau

['1 cup dry or 1 (12-ounce) can pigeon peas, pinto beans, or black-eyed peas', '2 cups long-grain rice', '3 tablespoons canola oil', '3/4 cup sugar (white or brown)', '1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces, skin removed', '1 small onion, chopped', '1 clove garlic, finely chopped', '1 cup coconut milk', '1 bay leaf', '2 teaspoons Green Seasoning', '1/2 cup chopped parsley', '1 sprig thyme', '2 carrots, peeled and chopped', '5 scallions, chopped (white and green parts)', 'Kosher salt', '2 cups cubed fresh calabaza or butternut squash', '1 small whole Scotch bonnet pepper', '1/2 cup ketchup', '1 tablespoon butter']

If using dried peas, soak them overnight in 3 cups of water. Drain. Bring 3 fresh cups of water to a boil in a saucepan and add the peas. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until cooked almost completely through. Drain and set aside. If using canned beans, drain, rinse with cold water, drain again, and set aside. Wash the rice by placing it in a colander or fine-mesh sieve and running cold water over it until the water runs clear, about 1 minute. Drain well and set aside.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or other heavy, deep pot. Add the sugar and swirl in the pot, stirring constantly; allow it to caramelize to a dark brown color. Add the chicken and stir well to coat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Stir in 2 cups of water, the coconut milk, bay leaf, Green Seasoning, parsley, thyme, carrots, and scallions. Season with salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir the rice, squash, peas, hot pepper, ketchup, and butter into the chicken. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until the peas and vegetables are tender. Remove lid and fluff the rice. The rice should be moist but not sticky. Remove bay leaf, thyme sprig, and hot pepper.
Note: Pigeon peas are traditional in this dish, but pinto beans or black-eyes peas also work well because, like pigeon peas, they hold their shape well after cooking. Brown sugar is preferable for deeper flavor and color. Chicken is the most common meat in pelau, but cuts of stew beef or lamb work just as well. If using meat, up the cooking time before adding the rice to 40 minutes to allow the meat to get tender. In Tobago, pelau is often made with crab. West Indian pumpkin (also called calabaza) is ideal for this recipe, although the pie or "cheese" pumpkin common in the U.S., if in season, makes a very good substitute. Butternut squash will also work, although it will be slightly less sweet.

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