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)


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!



love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick


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!



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9 Responses to “Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken”

  1. Lisa Says:

    mmmmm…sounds and looks delish. I’m totally making this on Sunday.

  2. Kristi Says:

    I dig how you totally put the little cup scoop of rice on the plate too. JUST like Jamaica! I’m jealous I’m not one of your local friends!!! I want some!

  3. Renee Says:

    Looks amazing! Totally making it this weekend.

  4. Terri Says:

    Lillit, you go girl!!! The preparations look fab, the dinner looks devine!!! 2 thumbs up fi real!!!

  5. JLO Says:

    Nice!!! If I may say, it tasted very authentic! Good job MON!

  6. Steph (aka guinea pig) Says:

    Holy cow E! That was terrific! This is nowhere near a typical chicken and rice meal. Even reheated, the rice was still moist and the chicken had so much flavour. And one of the nicest surprises was that the beans did not have that pasty taste but instead a moist “couldn’t-put-my-finger-on-the-flavour-until-now” (aka coconut milk) taste. I’m in such a happy place right now that it’s a pity I have to go back to work.
    Thank you thank you thank you for having such a good relationship with your love for cooking.

  7. Deanne Says:

    I was one of the lucky ones to get to try this fantabulous dinner. It totally took me back to Jamaica. It was as good as the authentic dish at a local restaurant in Ochi.It was awesome!Cooped Up Chick I am totally jealous of your culinary skills!

  8. Jak citrine Says:

    Im Looking forward to trying this & I’m sue it’s going to taste as good as it looks x

  9. Cooped Up Chick Says:

    16 trips to JA taught me a few things….this recipe is one of them. 😉

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