04 March 2014

Foodie Tuesday | Jamaican Chicken Stew

My mum was a single mum who worked a lot when I was young. We relied on my grandparents to look after me and for many years I basically lived at their house; even after I'd grown older and was able to stay on my own, they remained my main source of home-cooked meals (my mum is many things, but Master Chef is not among them.)

Being of no-nonsense Scottish decent, my Nan was a delicious cook but not an adventurous one. Every meal consisted of meat (mostly beef, cooked very well done), gravy, potatoes and vegetables. Occasionally, mostly in the summertime, there was salad, in which radish was the most "out there" food. To give you an example of how sheltered my taste buds were, I didn't know that peppers came in any colour other than green until I was 19. Daryn served me a red pepper during dinner one night and I was all, What the hell is this? And he was like, Uh, a pepper? And I was like, WOAH. And he was like, Dude, that's just sad.


My point with all this reminiscing is to illustrate just how sharp a corner we've turned. Daryn - always a courageous and adventurous eater - has rubbed off on me these past 18 years: where once I was surprised by (and honestly, more than a little scared of trying) a rainbow-coloured pepper, now we make it a point to try new foods, flavour profiles and dishes as often as possible.

Take, for example, this gorgeous Jamaican stew. Having never been there I can't vouch for its authenticity, but I can for its flavour (read: delicious); it tastes exactly like I think island food would. It's deep and rich, and the allspice gives it a smoky quality that makes it really robust. We serve it on a bed of hot buttered rice and little dollop of sour cream on top (because we put sour cream on eh-ver-y-thang), and it is flat out amazing.

But don't take my word for it. Try it for yourself and let me know if you love it too!

Preparation: 10 minutes | Cooking Time: 40 minutes | Serves: 6-8
  • 2 cups uncooked rice
    (we use Dainty brand Time-Wise whole grain brown, but you can use whatever kind you like best)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion
  • 1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 4 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp allspice
    (equal parts cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves can be substituted for allspice)
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 4 tbsp capers, drained
  • 2 cans (19 fl.oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (28 fl.oz.) diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 3 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/3 cup water
  • fresh cilantro or thyme leaves (optional)
Cooking Directions:
  1. Cook the rice according to package directions. Set aside and keep warm.
  2. Chop onion into medium dice. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. Measure out spices (curry powder through black pepper) into a small bowl.
  3. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until tender and onion begins to turn translucent.
  4. Add chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes, followed by the spice mixture. Cook an additional 10 minutes until chicken is just cooked through.
  5. Stir in beans, tomatoes, wine and capers. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.
  6. In a small bowl, mix together corn starch and water until corn starch is fully dissolved. Stir into the stew and allow to cook/thicken for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Serve hot over a bed of rice, garnished with fresh springs of cilantro or thyme leaves. 

Notes: gluten free | one-pot-wonder

Original recipe from Cooking Light