This is a recipe for one of my favorite Jamaican dishes. My best friend used to cook a lot of traditional foods, and I remember savoring this dish with a nice thick Jamaican dumpling on the side. Yuuuum, yuuum! These days, lots of people have abandoned the burnt sugar base in exchange for the convenience of soy sauce for color. I take it back to the old school, and respect the demands of a low-iodine or low-sodium diet by using caramelized sugar to obtain the characteristic dark, rich color of Jamaican stew chicken.
Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken
1 whole chicken or 4 pounds of bone-in chicken pieces
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp whole allspice
about 6 sprigs of thyme, whole
juice of 1 lime
1 scotch bonnet or habanero pepper, whole
1 1-inch piece of ginger, cut into wide sticks
4 TB sugar (preferably natural brown or turbinado)
2 TB tomato sauce or diluted tomato paste
2 medium potatoes, cut into larger chunks
2 medium carrots, chopped in rings
salt and pepper to taste
about 2-3 TB flour for coating
oil for frying
4 cups water
1. Chop chicken into bone-in bite-size pieces using a sharp, durable knife and a hammer to drive the knife into the meat.
2. Next, you can either use the chopped ingredients for the marinade or throw all but the thyme and allspice in the blender. Marinade chicken in onion, garlic, green pepper, green onion, lime juice, allspice, thyme, salt, and pepper for at least 1 hour.
3. Once marinated, scrape off excess marinade, them lightly coat chicken with the flour. You can mix it with clean hands or a spoon. The objective is to get a thick paste, not an actual clean coating.
4. Heat two TB of oil in a large pan over high heat. This and the remainder of this recipe will be completed in an uncovered pan. Proceed to brown meat in the oil.
5. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pot over medium-high heat, place sugar and allow to sit until dark brown. Do not stop once it is golden, and do not stir.
6. Once dark brown, add 4 cups of water and allow to boil until the burnt sugar released from the pain and forms a dark sauce. Add this liquid to the pan once all of the chicken has sufficiently browned. Add reserved marinade.
7. Add in potatoes, carrots, hot pepper, and allspice. Adjust salt level, if necessary. Continue cooking over high heat, gently stirring often.
8. Once liquid has reduced to just over the meat, add tomato sauce and ginger.
9. Continue cooking over medium-high to high heat until potatoes are tender, but not too soft. The sauce will continue to darken throughout the cooking process. This is a good thing.
10. Once potatoes are done and liquid has sufficiently reduced to create the look of a braised meat, as opposed to a soup, serve with Jamaican rice and peas or white long grain rice.
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