The chicken is packed with flavor thanks to the mainstay Haitian spice blend, epis (you can read more about epis here). Just as no two sofrito recipes are alike, the same goes for epis—other common epis ingredients include cilantro, cloves, and Scotch bonnet chiles. This recipe makes more epis than you need for the chicken, but the leftovers will keep for weeks in the fridge (or months if frozen in ice cube trays). Use some as a marinade for pork or fish; stir a couple of tablespoons into soup and stew bases; add a spoonful to rice along with the water before cooking; or add a dollop to sautéed greens. —Lesley Enston
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red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, coarsely chopped
green bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, coarsely chopped
small onion, coarsely chopped
scallions, coarsely chopped
cup (loosely packed) parsley leaves
cup apple cider vinegar
cup extra-virgin olive oil
Tbsp. fresh lime juice
tsp. thyme leaves
cup raw cashews
lb. skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
garlic cloves, finely chopped
Tbsp. fresh lime juice
Tbsp. chopped parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt, plus more
Scotch bonnet or habanero chile
Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Tbsp. double-concentrated tomato paste
plum tomatoes, finely chopped
small onion, thinly sliced
green bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, thinly sliced
Cooked basmati or jasmine rice (for serving)
Blend or process red bell pepper, green bell pepper, onion, scallions, parsley, garlic, vinegar, oil, lime juice, and thyme in a blender or food processor until smooth (you will have about 3 cups).
Do ahead: Epis can be made 2 weeks ahead. Transfer to an airtight container and chill, or pour into ice cube trays and freeze up to 3 months.
Bring cashews and 3 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to low, cover pan, and simmer until a cashew crumbles but doesn’t disintegrate when pressed between your fingers, 45–60 minutes. Drain cashews and set aside.
Mix chicken, garlic, cloves, lime juice, parsley, thyme, a copious amount of black pepper, 2 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt, and ¼ cup epis in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot until chicken is coated. Nestle chile in the center of pot, cover, and set over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until chicken is nearly cooked through and a lot of juices have cooked out, about 30 minutes. Transfer chicken mixture to a medium bowl, scraping any remaining seasonings out of pot with a heatproof rubber spatula.
Pour oil into same pot and increase heat to medium-high. Using tongs, return chicken to pot, leaving juices and chile behind in bowl. Cook chicken, turning occasionally, until browned all over, 5–10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring often and adding 1 Tbsp. chicken juice if starting to burn, until paste is slightly darkened in color, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring often, until starting to soften, about 4 minutes.
Add cashews, reserved chile, and remaining reserved chicken juices to pot (make sure to keep chile intact; an open chile will add a lot of heat), then pour ½ cup water into bowl and swish around to pick up any seasonings left behind. Pour water mixture into pot. Bring chicken mixture to a simmer, cover pot, and cook until chicken meat is falling off the bone, about 20 minutes. Stir in onion and bell pepper, re-cover pot, and cook until vegetables are softened but still retain some bite, 5–10 minutes. Remove chile from pot; discard. Taste poul ak nwa and season with more salt and pepper if needed.
To serve, divide rice among shallow bowls and ladle poul ak nwa over.
Do ahead: Poul ak nwa can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Reheat over medium-low before serving.