Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken is a classic stew that is made similarly to the French Coq Au Vin where braised chicken is cooked down in a rich sauce of vegetables and aromatics. This full bodied stew is typically enjoyed on a Sunday served with Jamaican rice and peas (red beans). The flavors are built into this stew in a layered fashion as it is heavily seasoned as the cooking progresses. The ingredients are allowed to cook until they dissipate to form a rich and savory sauce.
How to cook
Though there are a few ways to make stew chicken, I prefer to cook it the braised way as I think the results are far more stellar. Braising the bird first not only gives it great color, but it creates a depth of flavor on the meat that you don’t get from just cooking it in water. Some methods use a brown sugar base instead of braising to give the chicken its color. I do not like to use brown sugar as I believe it steals the rich savory flavor of the stew and makes it too sweet. In this recipe, a touch of sweetness is added from the ketchup and pickapeppa sauce and that’s all it really needs. There is a bonus recipe here for green gungo (guandules) peas and rice.
For Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken, you will need:
- Large bowl
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife
- Large stew pot
- Medium skillet
- Cling film
- Medium saucepan
- 2 disposable gloves
- Wooden spoon
- 1 whole chicken cut up
- 1 tbsp EasiSpice chicken seasoning
- 1 tbsp Maggijm all purpose seasoning
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp white pepper
- 1 tbsp of gravy master or 1 tsp browning
- 1/2 cup of oil
- 1 1/2 white onion (diced)
- 3 scallions (diced finely)
- Handful of thyme
- 1 ½ of a scotch bonnet pepper
- 1 plum tomato (diced)
- 1 clove of garlic (mashed for oil)
- 1 clove of garlic (pressed for stew)
- 2 cups of water
- 1 bouillon cube
- 2 tablespoons of ketchup
- 1 tablespoon of pickapeppa sauce
- 1 tsp Spurtreespices scotch bonnet sauce
- Ingredients for rice:
- 1 cup of Green Gungo Peas
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 cups of Basmati rice
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 scallions
- 1/2 of an onion (chopped finely)
- Handful of thyme
- 5-7 Pimento seeds
- 1 whole scotch bonnet pepper (green)
- 1 tsp of White pepper
- 1 tsp of Maggi all purpose
- Salt to taste
- Rinse and pat dry chicken in a large bowl.
- Add all powdered seasonings to chicken and use the disposable gloves to massage spices into the meat.
- Once all of the chicken is fully coated in the powdered mix, cover it with cling film and allow it to marinate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight in the refrigerator.
- Remove chicken from the fridge about 15 minutes prior to cooking and allow the chicken to come to room temperature.
- In a medium skillet, add oil, scotch bonnet and garlic. Let the oil get hot on high heat. Once the garlic and scotch bonnet start to brown, add the first batch of chicken to the pan. Brown chicken on both sides about 3 minutes per side.
- Once all the chicken is braised, transfer the pieces to a large pot. Add chopped onions, scallions, thyme, tomato, whole scotch bonnet, garlic and water. Add in the water that was left back after the chicken was marinated. Cover the pot and bring the chicken and veggies up to a boil on high heat for 15-20 minutes.
- After about 15-20 minutes, the veggies will begin to break down and become translucent. The sauce will have some flavor at this point but adding more flavor is necessary. Add ketchup, pickapeppa sauce, bouillon cube and scotch bonnet sauce to the stew. Give the sauce a good stir and taste for salt. Add a pinch of salt if necessary. Reduce the heat to medium high heat. Re-cover the pot and allow the vegetables to cook until they have disappeared and the sauce has completely reduced and thickened. This will take roughly another 15-20 mins.
Steps for rice:
- Cook peas with garlic for 20 mins in 2 cups of water. The peas are cooked when they easily mash between your fingers.
- After peas are cooked, add coconut milk, scallion, onion, thyme and scotch bonnet (keep whole) to the pot. Give the pot a good stir. Add in the all purpose seasoning, pepper and salt and stir to combine. Taste the milk to ensure it is flavorful and tastes a bit salty. The rice will taste exactly like the water so be sure that it is flavorful and has enough salt.
- Cover the pot and bring the liquid to a boil on high heat.
- Wash the rice and drain it in a colander. Wash the rice and discard the water about 3 times or until the water runs clear.
- Once the liquid comes up to a boil, uncover the pot and add the rice. Give the rice a good stir and cover.
- Allow the liquid to completely cook off on high heat. If there are some bubbly wet spots in the rice, keep the heat high and watch for those spots to completely dry out. There will be beans sitting on top of the rice once the rice dries out. Do not stir the rice.
- Once all of the water has dried out, reduce the heat to low heat and re-cover the pot. This will allow the steam to rise in the pot and get trapped under the cover. The steam will continue to cook the grains causing them to open without sticking to each other. Allow the rice to steam this way for about 15 minutes or until the grains are open and soft.
- Once the rice has cooked, remove pepper and thyme sticks. Thyme sticks should be completely rid of the leaves by this point. Use a fork to fluff the rice.
- Serve rice and peas with stew chicken and your favorite veggie sides.
Video Music Credit: Light by Jeff Kale