Brandon Gouvela is a chef, recipe developer, and content creator who curates meals so pretty, you could cry into your curry shrimp. And while his food styling is undeniably gorgeous, it’s the bold flavors and inspiration from his Caribbean-Guyanese culture that truly make his dishes divine. Follow him @brandongouvia for out-of-the-ordinary recipes and daily reminders that cooking and food = love.
How does your heritage or culture influence your home cooking?
My culture influences my home cooking by including lots of bold flavors in my meals.
Who taught you how to make the dish you're sharing today?
This dish is a traditional dish made in Guyana that I grew up eating. My grandmother taught me how to make it.
How would you describe your relationship to home cooking?
I’ve always loved cooking since I was a child. Cooking brings people together and food is love.
What do you like about cooking with cast iron?
Cooking in a cast iron helps bring more flavor to meats while keeping it moist. It also speeds up cooking processes by retaining lots of heat in the pan.
Are there any recipes or dishes that are just better made with a cast iron pan?
I feel like when making meats (or one-pan meals), cast irons are the way to go. They allow for a more flavorful, richer taste.
What's special to you about the cast iron Always Pan?
The cast iron Always Pan is special because of its unique, sleek style and also its weight. It’s not as heavy as your usual cast iron, and it also comes with some amazing silicone Hot Grips!
Tell us about a spice that made you feel connected to your heritage.
Cassareep comes from Cassava and is pretty big in South America. The juice is boiled until it reduces and caramelizes which forms a thick and rich-tasting syrup. It’s an important ingredient in Guyanese pepper pot!
If you could only cook (and then eat!) one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
This is a hard question...For me it would definitely be curry shrimp. I’m a big fan of West Indian curry and love all the spices.
What was the first thing you learned to cook?
The first thing I learned how to cook was fried eggs! I would make myself fried egg sandwiches all the time. It was my favorite snack as a child.
Brandon’s Pigeon Peas Cook Up Rice with Chicken
For the rice:15 oz. canned green pigeon peas
1 1/3 cup long grain rice, washed
1 cup canned coconut milk
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 white onion, diced
3 tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup scallion, chopped
2 small carrots, diced
3 sprigs of thyme
2 – 4 bay leaves
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 tsp. chicken bouillon
2 tsp. adobo seasoning
For the chicken:1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into pieces
3 tbsp. coconut oil for searing chicken and more for sautéing
1 tbsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. Chinese five spice
2 tsp. chicken bouillon
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp. ground coriander seed
Pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly cracked black pepper
Prepare all vegetables for the rice and set aside.
In a large bowl, add your cleaned chicken thigh pieces and season with dried thyme, Chinese five spice, chicken bouillon, cayenne pepper, garlic salt, dark brown sugar, ground coriander seed, salt, and pepper, then mix together well and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Add coconut oil to your cast iron Always Pan on medium heat.
When the oil is hot, add in your marinated chicken pieces and cook chicken until it has a nice sear and is browned on all sides. Remove from cast iron Always Pan.
Add the garlic, onions, tomatoes, scallion, and carrots and saute for about 3 minutes.
Next, add pigeon peas with liquid, washed rice, and chicken, then stir and cook for 2 minutes.
Add in coconut milk, thyme, and bay leaves, then stir continuously until well combined. Season with bouillon and adobo, and add salt and pepper if needed.
Turn the flame down to low, cover, and let steam until the rice is completely cooked. This should take about 30 minutes.
Remove from the heat and enjoy your rice cook-up!