Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken with Herb-Roasted Potatoes

published Sep 25, 2021
Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken with Herb-Roasted Potatoes Recipe

Chicken thighs are braised in a savory, flavor-packed sauce in this quicker take on traditional Jamaican brown stew chicken.

Serves4 to 6

Prep30 minutes to 40 minutes

Cook1 hour 5 minutes

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chicken in cast iron pot with a spoon in it
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Braised meat is comfort food in the Caribbean. The process of searing meat and then layering in flavor from fresh seasonings is how a lot of island dishes — including our beloved oxtail stew and brown stew chicken — achieve their signature flavors.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, braised chicken stew was one of the first dishes I learned how to make. It was always reserved for Sundays, the day my large extended family and I were required to sit at the table together. I would carefully watch my grandmother as she made the sauce and finished the dish, and she would task me with searing all the chicken. I learned so much from being her sous chef — but I also learned how long and tedious the cooking process was.

Many years later, I set out to create a much more manageable version of this stew, which is what I’m sharing here. It has all the great flavors of our family favorite with half the stress and time — and I guarantee no one will believe it didn’t cook all day. Here’s how to do it.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

A Quicker Chicken Stew

Instead of a whole chicken, I start with chicken thighs, which are easy to work with and cook up tender and juicy. After coating them in a spice mixture, you’ll sear them on the stovetop before starting the sauce.

The savory sauce is made with garlic, scallions, onions, tomatoes, lots of fresh thyme, and a spicy scotch bonnet pepper. I also add Gravy Master, which helps give it a deep, rich color. If you don’t have any on hand, you can use Worcestershire sauce, but I think the Gravy Master is worth buying. You can use it in any savory stews and gravies to enhance their color and flavor — it’s particularly great in beef stews and mushroom gravies.

Once the sauce is boiling, you’ll return the chicken to the pan and let the whole thing simmer until the sauce is thickened and reduced, the flavors have developed, and the chicken is cooked through. During this down time I like to roast some potatoes in the oven, which are just as easy and hands-off. The stew is great served with a green side, too —  steamed green beans, steamed broccoli, or sautéed spinach would all be great. 

Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken with Herb-Roasted Potatoes Recipe

Chicken thighs are braised in a savory, flavor-packed sauce in this quicker take on traditional Jamaican brown stew chicken.

Prep time 30 minutes to 40 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 5 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the chicken:

  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon

    onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon

    paprika

  • 1 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 6

    bone-in, skin on chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds total)

  • 1/2

    medium white onion

  • 1

    small Roma tomato

  • 2

    medium scallions

  • 1 clove

    garlic

  • 1 teaspoon

    Gravy Master or Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 cups

    low-sodium chicken broth, or 1 1/2 teaspoons “Better Than Bouillon” Roasted Chicken Base or 1 chicken bouillon cube mixed with 2 cups water

  • 8 sprigs

    fresh thyme, or 1 bay leaf

  • 1

    medium green Scotch bonnet, habanero, or Jamaican hot pepper (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons

    ketchup

  • 1 teaspoon

    hot sauce, preferably Jamaican like Spur Tree Spices Yellow Scotch Bonnet Sauce

For the potatoes:

  • 2

    medium sweet potatoes (about 12 ounces total)

  • 2

    medium russet potatoes (about 12 ounces total)

  • 2 sprigs

    fresh rosemary

  • 2 sprigs

    fresh thyme

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400ºF. Meanwhile, prepare the chicken.

  2. Place 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon paprika, and 1 teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl and stir to combine. Pat 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs dry with paper towels. Add to the bowl and massage the spice mixture into the chicken until coated all over.

  3. Small dice 1/2 medium white onion and 1 small Roma tomato. Thinly slice 2 medium scallions. Mince 1 garlic clove or press through a garlic press.

  4. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick or cast iron skillet until very hot and the oil starts to smoke a little. Working in 2 batches if needed, place the chicken in the pan skin-side down and cook until the skin is deep golden-brown, about 5 minutes. Flip the chicken and brown the other side, about 5 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

  5. Reduce the heat to medium. Remove about 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan. Add the onion to the pan and sauté for 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the scallions and sauté for about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and stir to combine.

  6. Add 1 teaspoon Gravy Master (or Worcestershire sauce), and 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or 1 1/2 teaspoons “Better than Bouillon” or 1 chicken bouillon cube mixed with 2 cups water). Stir to combine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add 8 fresh thyme sprigs (or 1 bay leaf) and 1 hot pepper if using. Cover and bring to a boil.

  7. Uncover, add 2 tablespoons ketchup and 1 teaspoon hot sauce, and stir to combine. Return the chicken skin-side down to the pan and add any accumulated juices. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Flip the chicken, cover again, and simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, roast the potatoes.

  8. Cut 2 medium sweet potatoes and 2 medium russet potatoes crosswise into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Place in a medium bowl. Strip the leaves from 2 fresh rosemary sprigs and 2 fresh thyme sprigs into the bowl. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and toss to combine.

  9. Tear a sheet of aluminum foil long enough that it sticks about 10 inches past each short side of a large rimmed baking sheet (about 40 inches total), and place on the baking sheet. Arrange the potato slices on the foil, alternating sweet and russet potato slices and overlapping the slices by about half.

  10. Fold the sides of the foil over the slices until completely covered. Roast the potatoes in the oven until fork-tender, 35 to 40 minutes.

  11. After the chicken has simmered for 20 minutes, check to make sure the chicken isn’t sticking to the pan (reduce the heat if it is). Spoon some of the sauce over the chicken, cover again, and continue cooking until the sauce is thickened and reduced, about 25 minutes more. Discard the thyme sprigs and hot pepper if using before serving.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.