You will love this authentic Jamaican brown stew chicken recipe if you love chicken. The chicken braised in a nice savoury sauce, which you can pour over your rice or whatever you serve with this dish. There is no time like the present to have one of Jamaica’s favourite dishes.
Jamaican brown stew chicken
Brown stew chicken is a popular Jamaican dish usually eaten on Sundays along with rice and peas. The chicken is seasoned with traditional Jamaican herbs and spices and then “brown”, a term Jamaicans use to describe slightly frying the chicken so that it gains colour on the outside but is soft and juicy on the inside. The crisp brown chicken is then simmered in a sauce you made in the same pot you brown the chicken in. The method is the same as cooking brown stew fish.
Why does my brown stew chicken taste bitter
Your brown stew chicken will taste bitter using too much browning sauce, and you burnt the chicken at the “browning” stage. The browning sauce caramelised sugar, and too much makes your cooking taste bitter. If you used brown sugar instead of the browning sauce, you probably burnt the sugar too much.
Brown stew chicken without browning
Browning sauce helps to give the chicken its dark brown colour, but you can cook brown stew chicken without using the browning sauce. Instead of browning sauce, you use brown sugar. Browning sauce is caramelised brown sugar, so you’re making your own. Add a small amount of brown sugar to “brown” the chicken when heating the oil. As the oil gets hot, the sugar will start to darken and melt but don’t burn the sugar, as this will make the chicken bitter. If you wish to avoid using sugar, you could use thick soy or oyster sauce, but your brown stew chicken won’t have that authentic Jamaican taste.
Brown stew chicken ingredients
Here are the ingredients required for Jamaican brown stew chicken:
- Chicken: In Jamaican, we use the whole chicken when making brown stew chicken, which means the chicken back and breast is in the finished dish. As the chicken is cooked for more than 30 minutes, the breast may be a little chewy for some. If you don’t want this, use chicken pieces. Also, skin-less chicken works better for this dish.
- Powder seasoning: Use chicken, poultry or all-purpose seasoning..
- Jamaican flavour: Scallion, thyme, and scotch bonnet pepper add that “Jamaican” flavour. It does matter if you use fresh or dry thyme, as you will still get the Jamaican taste.
- Bell pepper, onion, tomato, garlic: You may not see them, but they are cooked down in the sauce. They are cooked so soft you can barely see them when the stew is finished.
- Oops! I missed some: Missing from the image above is pimento (allspice), ginger, and chicken stock/broth. I used Knorr stock pot chicken.
How to cook Jamaican brown stew chicken
In a nutshell, brown stew chicken is made by browning chicken pieces, then simmering them in a savoury sauce with vegetables thickened with ketchup.
- Remove skin: After washing the chicken with lime and vinegar, remove the skin. This dish is best with skin-less chicken.
- Season well: Season with salt, chicken/all-purpose seasoning and browning sauce. Add the scotch bonnet pepper, ginger, garlic, onion, scallion, thyme, pimento berries or use a blended green seasoning. The green seasoning is easy to make, the chicken absorbs more flavour when you use it, and you won’t have to won’t have to separate it from the chicken before cooking.
- Marinate: For maximum flavour, leave to marinate for at least an hour.
- Prepare to cook: Once you are ready to cook, separate the marinade (skip if you use the green seasoning) from the chicken but do not worry about trying to get this perfect. Just divide the larger pieces of onion, scallion, thyme etc.
- Brown chicken: Heat enough oil over medium-high heat in a large pot with a lid. In batches, cook the chicken for about 3 minutes on each side until nice and golden.
- Prepare the sauce: Add water, bell pepper, tomato, chicken stock, salt, ketchup and the marinade you separated earlier. Once the liquid is hot and starts boiling, add the chicken.
- Let it simmer: Cover the pot and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
What to serve it with
Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken
- 771 g (1.7 lb) Chicken
- 1 Small yellow onion chopped
- 2 Stalk scallion chopped
- 2 Garlic cloves crushed
- ¼ (55 g) Green bell pepper sliced
- ¼ Red bell pepper sliced
- 1 Small tomato diced
- ¼ Scotch Bonnet Pepper seeds removed and finely chopped
- 4 g Grated ginger
- 4 Sprigs thyme
- 5 Pimento berries (allspice)
- 1 ½ tbsp All purpose/chicken seasoning Salt free (see notes)
- 1 ½ tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Browning sauce
- 2 tbsp ketchup (optional)
- Chicken cube stock
- 3-4 tbsp Cooking oil
- 355 ml (1.5 cups) Water
- Dissect and clean the chicken (remove skin and fat) and wash it in water with vinegar and lime/lemon juice. Drain away as much excess water from the chicken, dry and chop into small pieces.
- Season the chicken with the chicken/all-purpose seasoning, ½ tsp of salt and the browning sauce. Add the onion, garlic, scallion, scotch bonnet pepper, thyme, pimento berries, and ginger, or use one ½ tbsp of green seasoning (see note). Rubbing all the ingredients into the chicken ensures all pieces are well coated. (For maximum flavour, leave to marinate for at least an hour).
- Separate the onion, thyme, scallion, garlic and pimento from the chicken, which may be painstaking, so don't try to separate every piece. If you are using the green season, you bypass this step.
- Heat oil in a large enough pot over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken brown on all sides. Turn the heat down if needed so the chicken cooks before all sides are brown.
- Pour away the oil leaving about a tablespoon. Add the water, onion, scallion, garlic, thyme, pimento, scotch bonnet (ingredients you separated earlier), bell pepper, tomato, salt, chicken cube stock and ketchup if you use it. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. (At this point, taste the sauce if flavoured to your liking).
- Cook for about 10 minutes. Add the chicken. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Use more scotch bonnet if you like your food spicy.
- The all-purpose seasoning I use is salt-free. Consider using less if yours have salt.
- The use of ketchup in this recipe is to help thicken the brown stew sauce and add a hint of sweetness. If you prefer not to use ketchup, use a small amount of cornstarch to help thicken the sauce and a tiny bit of brown sugar or honey for the sweet taste.
- If you want to avoid the painstaking task of separating the onion, scallion, garlic, thyme etc., from the chicken after you marinate it, use a blended green season, which I have a complete recipe for. But you will still need chopped onion, garlic etc. when making the brown stew sauce.
- Instead of water, you could use chicken broth; this way, you don’t have to use chicken cube stock. Jamaicans usually use maggie cube stock.
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