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I had no idea that Jamaican food was loved by so many people!
This dish is brown stew chicken, a Jamaican classic that is extremely popular. It is made mostly on Sundays, especially by those living in the countryside.
- 8 to 10 pieces of chicken
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 stalk scallion, chopped
- 1 nice bunch thyme
- 1 tablespoon of your favorite meat spice (mine is the dry jerk spice)
- 2 pinches of salt (Use less salt if you are hypertensive or omit it altogether.)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons vinegar for rinsing the chicken
- First, remove skin and rinse the chicken in a bowl with the vinegar and 5 cups of water. Pat dry or drain and return to a dry bowl.
- Add scallion, onion, and garlic to the bowl with your favorite spice, salt, soy sauce, and thyme. With clean hands, massage this seasoning into every piece of the chicken until it's all well coated. You can do this the day before cooking and marinate in the refrigerator overnight, but you can also cook it immediately.
- In a skillet, heat 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil on medium. Shake off the onion, garlic, and scallion pieces from the chicken and reserve them in the bowl with the marinade.
- When the oil is smoking, add each piece of chicken. Brown well on all sides. When all pieces are very brown, add reserved seasoning to the pot and cover, reducing flame to medium/low.
- After 5 minutes, add 2 cups of water to the bowl, swirl to pick up the leftover spices, then add this mixture to the chicken and increase the flame to medium again.
- Cover and let simmer until the gravy has been reduced to about 2/3 of a cup. Stir and turn the pieces once or twice.
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This recipe goes extremely well with rice and peas. See the recipe for Jamaican Rice and Peas here.
Variations and Additions
Now, there are a few variations to the brown stew chicken that Jamaicans love. Some people like their sauce a bit thickened and will add flour, cornstarch, or ketchup to thicken it.
- To thicken with flour: After browning all the pieces of chicken, remove them from the pan. Add 1/2 tablespoon flour to the oil and stir. I prefer whole wheat for this because it's less starchy and pasty. Allow the flour to get slightly brown; what you are actually making is a roux. Slowly add water while stirring. Add the chicken pieces and reserved seasoning.
- To thicken with cornstarch: Follow the recipe as usual. When the sauce is reduced by about 1/3, dissolve 1/2 heaped teaspoon of cornstarch in a little water and stir it into the sauce. Let it cook until thickened to your desired consistency.
- To thicken with tomato ketchup: When I use this method, I prefer to burn the ketchup in the oil a little to reduce the tangy flavor of the vinegar. I add the ketchup after removing the chicken pieces from the oil. Fry it a little until it's bubbly and starts to get a bit darker. Add the chicken pieces and seasoning, then the water, and stir. Some people add the ketchup after adding the water for the sauce. They would then add a bit of sugar to help balance the flavor.
- You may also use chopped tomatoes to help thicken the sauce instead of any of the above.
What to Add to the Stew
Additions (choose one):
- Diced potatoes
- Sliced carrots
- String beans
- Green peas