Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

Brown Stew Chicken is an inherent Jamaican classic. In this dish, seasoned chicken is first browned for flavour before being added to sautéed onions and garlic, and being stewed with carrots and sweet peppers. The flavour quartet of pimento berries, thyme, spring onion and scotch bonnet pepper, so quintessential of Jamaican cuisine, is what sets this dish apart from other chicken stews.

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Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken Recipe

Serves: 4-6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Marinating Time: 3 hours to overnight
Cooking Time: 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 kg skinless chicken portions (legs or thighs or a mix of the two)
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp all purpose seasoning
  • 1 tbsp chicken seasoning
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 0.5 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme roughly chopped
  • 5 tbsp light olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 3 spring onions chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 sweet pepper deseeded and sliced
  • 2 carrots peeled and sliced
  • 1 tsp scotch bonnet pepper sauce
  • 3 pimento berries
  • 300 ml water
  • 1 tbsp butter

METHOD

  1. Place the chicken portions in a large bowl. Add the garlic powder, all purpose seasoning, chicken seasoning, salt, pepper and thyme and mix well. Cover with clingfilm and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 3 hours, but overnight would be better.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large heavy bottomed frying pan using a high heat. Scrape the thyme from the chicken portions, but put the thyme aside for later. Fry the chicken in batches for around 3 minutes on each side until they are a nice deep brown colour. Place the browned off pieces in a plate and set aside whilst you brown of the next batch. I use my trusty 28 cm Anolon Sauté Pan for this as it has a big enough area to brown the chicken in larger batches and it is also deep enough to hold the gravy that this dish will produce. Click here for more details on the pan.
  3. Once all the chicken has been browned add two tablespoons of olive oil to the pan, don’t worry about any brown crust that has formed on the bottom of the pan from the frying, just scrape this and mix it into the oil. On a medium heat sauté the onions and spring onions until they are translucent.
  4. Add the garlic, sweet peppers, carrots, scotch bonnet sauce, pimento berries and thyme from the marinade and stir well before adding the chicken back to the pan.
  5. Add the water and the butter. Cover the pan and simmer for 25 minutes until the gravy has reduced.

NOTES

Jamaican Coconut Pumpkin Rice

Coconut Pumpkin Rice is a hearty side dish is often served with Jamaican main dishes such as brown stew chicken, curry or even steamed fish. However, it also goes well with non-Jamaican dishes such as steak or fried chicken. In this dish the pumpkin is first mixed with sautéed onions and garlic. Thyme and spring onion are then added to the mix – this thyme and spring onion combination is quite synonymous of Jamaican cuisine. The mixture is then stewed in coconut milk until the pumpkin is tender, before being mashed. Finally rice is added which is cooked in the remaining liquid. The result is a fluffy orange rice, which has a little sweetness due to the pumpkin and the coconut milk, but is also savoury at the same time due to the thyme and spring onion. The flavour is absolutely superb!

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Now, this is an easy dish to prepare, but in the final stage getting the correct amount of liquid for the rice to cook can be a little tricky. So just be a vigilant here as you don’t want the rice to be soggy, or on the flip side, burnt. The idea is to cook the rice until the liquid is absorbed. Resist the urge to stir at this point!


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Jamaican Coconut Pumpkin Rice Recipe

Serves: 4

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 35 – 40 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • half a medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 spring onions – finely chop the white part and cut the green stalks in half
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 230 g pumpkin diced into approximately 1 cm cubes
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 200 ml coconut milk, about half a can (I use Dunn’s River Coconut Milk)
  • 195 g basmati rice rinsed well (I use Tilda Pure Basmati Rice)
  • salt to taste

METHOD

  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and on a medium heat sauté the onions and the white part of the spring onion until soft.
  2. Add the garlic, pumpkin, thyme, ground black pepper and the spring onion stalks and mix well.
  3. Add the coconut milk and simmer gently with the lid on for around 20 – 25 minutes until the pumpkin is soft.
  4. Remove from the hob and remove the spring onion stalks and the thyme sprigs. Use a potato masher to mash the pumpkin in the coconut milk.
  5. Add the rice and stir. The coconut milk should completely cover the rice, if not then add a little water such that the level of the liquid is about 1 cm above the level of the rice.
  6. Return to the heat, bring to a gentle simmer. Put the lid on the saucepan and cook for 10 minutes until the rice is cooked. Try not to stir it until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. If you get to a point where you feel the rice is cooked but there is still too much liquid then remove the lid.
  7. Season with salt to taste.

NOTES

  • You can substitute the pumpkin for butternut squash if pumpkin is not in season.