One-pot chicken stew with a sweet and spicy twist
What’s For Dinner?: This Jamaican dish is simple to make, and like all stews tastes better the next day
Jamaican brown chicken stew: perfect served over white rice
Nick Reynolds is a Dublin-based chef with a pop-up called Lil Portie Kitchen, where he specialises in Caribbean cooking with a Latin twist.
This Jamaican brown chicken stew is a dish that was always on the stove, warm, in my grandmother’s kitchen. Approaching the house as a child I’d get a waft of the spices, welcoming me before her arms embraced me. No matter how old you are, you’ll always be someone’s child and stepping into her kitchen never fails to bring me back to the bliss of full-bellied childhood.
The tingly aromas of Scotch bonnet peppers, thyme and pimento will always conjure an image of peace and stillness for me. Sometimes she prepared this as a casserole, but mostly as a stew. She would cook in the morning knowing that uncles and aunts, cousins and friends would pass through the house for a quick visit, a chat and leave with the satisfaction of a warm meal.
It’s simple in its assembly and like all stews tastes better the next day, so make extra. My favourite technique in West Indian cooking is the balance of sweet and spice. I see far too often spice being overused and dominating a dish, but for me, it has always been a component. I’ve fallen into an obsession with getting the balance just right so more people can enjoy it.
This is a great one-pot dish which is perfect served over white rice, with some avocado slices or some roti to mop up all those juices.
What you’ll need
4-6 chicken thighs
1 medium onion, diced
3 spring onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 sprigs of fresh thyme or a teaspoon of dried thyme
1 hot chilli, finely sliced
1 lime, juiced and zested
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely diced
Vegetable or sunflower oil
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp allspice
½ tsp cinnamon
150ml chicken stock
1 x 300ml can of coconut milk
A small handful of chopped parsley
How to cook it
1 In a bowl mix the chicken, onions, spring onion, garlic, thyme, chilli, lime juice and zest and ginger and leave to sit for 15 minutes. Some recipes call for overnight marinating, but I don’t personally think it’s necessary if you’re braising the chicken thighs.
2 The only part you’ve got to pay full attention to is the start. Place your pot over a medium heat and with enough vegetable or sunflower oil to cover the bottom of the pot.
3 Add the sugar and with a dry spoon stir the sugar for two minutes or so until it starts to bubble and turn a beautiful amber shade. You need to stir so the sugar doesn’t sit and burn.
4 Place the chicken thighs in one by one and coat with the sugar mixture. Then pour in the marinade mixture, allspice and cinnamon, and close the lid. Cook over a medium to high heat for 15 minutes.
5 Remove the lid and turn down the heat to medium/low. Add the chicken stock and reduce for 15 minutes. Then the coconut milk. Cook until the chicken is tender and the stew has thickened. You’re looking at about 40 minutes to an hour.
6 Stir in the chopped parsley before serving.