Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: Chicken Dishes, Main Course, March 2011

 

 

I have been traveling to Jamaica since 1999 and absolutely adore the culture, the people, the music and especially the food. The Jamaican people love to cook for guests and show their appreciation for the local vegetables, meats and spices found on their island. They also love to teach visitors how to cook their local cuisine.

Some dishes are simple and take few ingredients, others are complicated and fussy but all have immense flavor and all are made with love.

This is one of the most diverse dishes and is found from tip to tip of the island. Every family makes it their own way and the variations are limitless. I have had brown stew chicken no fewer than 20 times and each time its delicious and different. Last time I was there, in November, I had THE BEST brown stew chicken ever. My friend Kristi hosted a dinner at her apartment and her friend Ren did the cooking. Without question this man had skills in the kitchen. Between the flavor of the dish and his knife skills I was thoroughly impressed and kept peeking into the kitchen to see the steps and to see the progress of supper (you KNOW this girl can EAT!).

For the past few months I have been searching for his recipe and this is the closest I could find. I followed a recipe found on www.jamaicatravelandculture.com and applied the techniques I watched Ren use in Ochi (except for the blender thing he tried…unsuccessfully!)

This version of the recipe is thick and rich and sweet and spicy. I have dreams about this chicken…it is strange and sad and weird but let me tell you it is worth every moment of contemplation.

What you will need:

1 whole chicken (about 2-3lbs) or you can use 5-7 bone-in chicken breasts (skin removed, cut in half)
3 Tbsps lime juice
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
1 onion, diced
3 stalks of green onion
1 habanero pepper, chopped very small
1/2 green pepper and 1/2 red pepper, diced
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 inch of ginger, grated
3 tomatoes, diced
2-3 Tbsps oil (vegetable or olive oil)
3 tablespoons of flour, stirred in to 1/2 cup of water
3 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 3 teaspoons of dried thyme)
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of browning (Kitchen Bouquet)
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 cups of water

 

 

 

 

I realize there are a lot of ingredients and this is going to take a little while but trust me, it is worth it.

Start by washing the chicken with lime juice. Drain off any excess. Season the chicken with the salt and pepper (and if you are lucky enough, some Jamaican All Purpose Spice)

 

 

Add all of the diced and chopped and grated veggies. Onion, green onion, habanero, green and red pepper, thyme, garlic, tomatoes and ginger. Let this marinate for at least one hour. I let this marinate in the fridge for almost 5 hours! It may seem excessive but let me tell you, the chicken soaked up all the flavors like it was BORN to do it.

 

 

Mix well. Massage the spices and veggies into the chicken.

 

 

 

 

Once the hour (or 5 hours) is up scrape all the vegetables and spices off the chicken. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the chicken and fry for about 5 minutes or until the outside is slightly browned and the chicken is sealed.

 

Remove the chicken from the pot and drain off the oil. Heat the pot (med-med high) and add the butter. Add in the veggies from the marinating. Cook for about 3-5 minutes or until the tomatoes break down.

 

Add the soy sauce, the browning and the water. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil.

 

 

Take the flour added to the water and whisk well (I use my Tupperware gravy maker to get all the lumps out). Add this flour slurry to the pot, stirring briskly. This is going to thicken up the mixture to a rich, deep gravy.

 

 

 

Add the chicken back in and stew for at least 30 minutes.

 

 

 

Now for the side dishes!

One of Jamaicas best known side dishes is Rice & Peas. The peas are not actually peas, but instead are usually red kidney beans or sometimes pigeon peas. The rice is always white long-grain. It sounds bland but its not, it is packed with flavor using spices and other vegetables to add a kick.

I have made this using dried beans and it wasn’t very successful. I didn’t wash them well enough and/or soak them long enough and it ruined the dish. This time I used canned beans and it was just perfect.

What you will need:

1 can of red kidney beans
1 can of coconut milk
2 cups of rice
2 stalks of green onion
1 clove garlic, smashed
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 Tbsp oil (vegetable or olive)
1 habanero pepper (whole, do not chop up)
water

 

Drain the liquid from the can of beans into a measuring cup and add the can of coconut milk and enough water to make four cups of liquid.

 

Place liquids in a pot with beans, onions, garlic, thyme and oil, bring to a boil.

 

 

Add rice and stir for a minute. Reduce heat to Medium-Low. Place habanero pepper on top of liquid and cover tightly for 30 minutes or until rice is cooked. Remove pepper, thyme and green onions before serving.

 

The second side dish is a Cabbage salad (or more commonly referred to as “Veg”)

What you will need is:

1 Green cabbage

2 medium Carrots

1 Cucumber

1/2 cup sugar (I use 1/4 cup white and 1/4 cup brown)

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup Oil (vegetable or olive)

1 cup boiling water

 

Shred your cabbage VERY fine.

 

 

 

Use a peeler and peel your carrots and then continue to peel in long thin strips. Use only the outside of the cucumber (not the seeded center). Cut the cucumber in thin, fine slices and add to the cabbage and carrots.

Mix together the sugar, vinegar and oil.

 

 

 

Add to the cabbage mixture.

 

Place veg into a tupperware container. Pour boiling water over veg. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes.

 

Drain and squeeze out extra liquid. Refrigerate until needed.

 

This seems like a lot of work. Its more than a box of Kraft Dinner, for sure, but it is an authentic dish with lots of flavor and full of nutrition. Its worth every second of preparation. Let me know if you think otherwise!

 

 

 

Dee and Steph C….be ready for a MEAL tomorrow. God Bless my girls at work that agree to be my guinea pigs!!

Someone better be providing me with a beverage!

 

Enjoy!

love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick

UPDATE:

I had a little mini dinner party tonight for one of my fave couples, Jen and Matt. I decided to make my Brown Stew chicken. Matt had never had Jamaican food before and Jen had a less than favorable experience with resort food in Jamaica. NOT the more authentic JA cuisine. I was a little nervous that they would not like it. I think they did. By the time we finished eating we were all stuffed to the gills (not to the fault of the half dozen cupcakes we ate AFTER the stewed chicken! lol)

I tried to get an artsy-fartsy picture but of course Matt, the jokester, just HAD to put his mug in the photo!

 

The recipe is still a keeper!

 

 

First time perogies. TAADAA!!!!

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: Main Course, March 2011

 

 

This is more of a preparation post instead of a cooking post. Maybe someday I shall attempt to make a homemade perogie but since I had never even EATEN a perogie before today I was thoroughly confused how to even prepare one let alone create one.

One of my best friends talks about perogies all the time…she loves them. I thought since she doesn’t have HORRIBLE taste then maybe I would like perogies too.

After numerous BBM messages (ps- I ADORE my BB Torch!) and a 20 minute back and forth question and answer period I thought I had the idea down as to how to prepare these little pockets of dumpling potatoey goodness.

I ventured out into the wild to forage for pre-made perogies and I hit the jackpot at Costco. A 2kg box of them for under $10! wootwoot! Now lets hope I like them or the local soup kitchen may have to go “Polish” and serve all my perogies with a big batch of sauerkraut and some sausage. Pyszne!!!!

I had read online that the most popular filling for perogies in Canada is potato and cheddar cheese so that is what I purchased (ok, that was the only kind that was there but I was happy with my choice). In Poland the favorite filling is potato, farmers cheese and fried onions. Jewish Kreplach (their version of a pierogi) are filled with meat and potatoes and served in a chicken broth in the form of a soup. That sounds yummy and I may just have to try that with a few of my 2 kilograms of perogies.

So my friend told me the best way to cook perogies is to boil them in water first. This can be done from frozen. Get a large saucepan and salt the water generously. Bring it to a boil and add your perogies. It only takes a few minutes for them to rise to the top and float. Take them out of the water and set them aside.

Next in a frying pan, on high, add chopped bacon. Fry until almost crisp. Remove bacon bits from pan and add some butter/margarine. Get pan hot again and melt the butter, then add your boiled perogies. Fry until golden. I used a separate small frying pan and sauteed some slivered, sweet, white onion with salt and pepper. You can probably do this in the same frying pan but I was afraid that adding more butter to the pan might make my crispy pierogi coating soggy if I did.

Plate your perogies, add a big dollop of sour cream, your fried onions and the bacon bits.

You are ready for a pierogi-fest!!! Speaking of which, I may have to plan next years vacation for Whiting, Indiana. They ACTUALLY have a Pierogi-fest every July!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy!

love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick

No more picking out the Shreddies! Bits & Bites.

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: Appetizers, March 2011

 

 

Growing up I always found that eating Bits & Bites with my sister was the best. I hated the Shreddies (and the Cheese Nibbys) and would only eat the Cheerios and the pretzels. She hated the pretzels so it was almost a match made in heaven. Except for the fact that she ALWAYS got into my stuff and would fake out my parents saying I hit her when I didn’t. Looking back I guess that is what little sisters are for. A source of great pain and angst but also a forever friend and confidante.

 

I decided I was going to make my OWN Bits & Bites with all the good stuff that I like….NO SHREDDIES!

I went to the Bulk Barn and found Cheerios, corn chips, crunchits (hard cheezies) and salted pretzels. I really wanted to get some Chex cereal and plain Bugles but they were nowhere to be found. I also picked up some garlic powder, onion powder, celery salt and BBQ spice. You can put whatever you like in it….Doritos, goldfish crackers, almonds, chinese crackers, peanuts…whatever strikes your fancy!

Making Bits & Bites is not difficult it is just very time consuming.

First off preheat your oven to 250 degrees.

In a measuring cup mix together 2 cups of canola oil, 2 Tbsps of each of the spices and 3 Tbsps of Worchestershire sauce.

Put all of your chosen snack items in a large roasting pan. Stir the oil mixture well and pour over the snack items and toss to coat.

 

 

 

 

 

Bake in 15 minute intervals for a total of 2 hours. Stirring between each interval. Yes….this is annoying but it makes sure each pretzel, each cheerios, each whatever is covered in the spices and stops them from getting soggy.

 

After the painstakingly long 2 hours is up, let the batch cool thoroughly. Keep stirring every 20 minutes or so until the roasting pan is cool to the touch. You can now package them up all nice and pretty in tins, mason jars or like I do….Ziploc bags! sooooo pretty!

 

 

 

 

I think I have enough Bits & Bites now to last quite awhile. Or at least until my hooverinator of a 14yr old son comes home from his Dads and has a snack attack.

I am also thinking that some Franks Red Hot added to the batch next time might give it a good KICK! I am also going to increase the amount of BBQ spice, maybe another tablespoon. Customize it to your own tastes.

I DO know that the best thing to go with this snack is an extra large, extra cold ‘Harmonica Virgin’!!!!

 

 

 

 

Enjoy!!!

love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick

Harmonica Virgins

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: Beverages, March 2011

I know…you are saying to yourself….WTH??!! I said the same thing.

Last night I had consumed a few Rum and Cokes and decided to get on FaceBook and do some chatting and I saw a friend from High School was doing the same thing except her and her friend were trying out different drink recipes (liquor before beer nothing to fear, beer before liquor never been sicker!).

This was her FB status and it had me laughing soooooo hard that I thought I was going to pee a little (remember I was drinking too!):

“xxxxx has perfected the harmonica virgin. We have nailed several virgins. We are who we are. We have been discussing Jersey Shore, and we have come to two conclusions. Firstly, there should be a new Crayola crayon called “Jersey Shore Orange,” and secondly, there is no room in this world for pseudo-orange people. So say we all.”

I thought that that sounded like fun so she sent me the recipes for the drinks they were having…’Adios Futhermuckers’, ‘Lemon Drop Champagne’ and the one that interested me most was called ‘Harmonica Virgins’.

Drink title was inspired by a performance in a middle school musical. The creators are teachers (shhhhhhh!! names must be protected due to morals clauses, blah, blah, blah!) who sat in and assisted on this musical. There was one song that the students sang (with all their might…full of vim and vigor…cracking voices and everything!) that was called “Harmonic Convergence”. To the spectators it sounded like “harmonica virgins”. Go ahead. Take this moment to belt out harmonic convergence….you know you want to!  Thus explains the drink and the title. The teachers needed it. (“Whats up with that virgin song??!!??” ROTFLMAO)


What you will need:

2 oz lemon vodka

1 oz triple sec

1 1/2 oz ruby red grapefruit juice

1 oz cranberry-raspberry juice

1 oz strawberry passionfruit fruitopia

3 dashes of lemon juice

Mix all ingredients in shaker and serve over lots of ice.

Ok. Now that is exactly as she had given me the recipe. First off I couldn’t find Fruitopia or Lemon vodka. I bought ‘Fuze’ in the strawberry/melon flavor combination and Citrus Smirnoff. I thought they were pretty close! Secondly when I mixed the drink it was a bit to strong for my tastes. I like girly, frou-frou drinks….if you have a little umbrella then I like that in there too!

So I added a splash more Cran-Raspberry and a splash more grapefruit juice. It was perfect!!! Yummy and smooth and I got to use my martini shaker for the first time!

Thirdly since I used my martini shaker I drank it martini style. Shaken with ice but served without.

I think the next one WILL be served on ice. With a double recipe. I want a bigger glass because they seem to be going down wAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAy too fast.

Enjoy!

love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick

Thanks to a couple of creative, funny, innovative, frustrated teachers (Who Shall Not Be Named) for the recipe. Oh and thanks for teaching our brats too!