Dairy Free, Dinner, Fall, Gluten Free, Meat, Winter

Jamaican Stew Chicken

Walk into any Jerk shop in Crown Heights and you'll be overwhelmed with savory scents. Now, you might have opened that door planning to purchase the namesake dish, but let me point your nose in another direction. See that sultry, bubbling, brown tray? That's stew chicken, and I think you should give it a try. Brewed from the devilish flavors that make the Caribbean so intoxicating (lime, allspice, sugar), it is the sort of thing you never knew you needed in the depths of winter. Mine is built on a dark caramel of palm sugar, lime juice, and soy sauce, reduced until syrupy and dark as tobacco juice. The ensuing stew is so thick with flavor you'll begin to understand why Jerk Shops heap rice on every plate.


  • Neutral cooking oil
  • 3-4 pounds Chicken Thighs (skin and bone intact)
  • 2 Green Peppers, diced
  • 1 Yellow/Red Pepper, diced
  • ~10 Stalks Scallions, diced
  • 1 large Red Onion, diced
  • 3 large Garlic Cloves, minced
  • ~2 inches Ginger, minced
  • 1/3 cup Brown or Palm Sugar
  • Juice of 2 Limes
  • 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Allspice Berries
  • 1/4 cup Flour (to make this GF, use Rice Flour)
  • 1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 1  28-ounce can Chopped Tomatoes
  • 8 sprigs Thyme
  • 3-4 large Carrots, sliced into coins
  • Water to cover
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  1. Heat oil in a large stockpot over high heat. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Sear the chicken pieces in batches until everything is browned. Remove them to a separate platter and let them rest while you build the stew.
  2. In the same stockpot, sauté the peppers and scallions with a touch of salt until tender, about 5-7 minutes. When they are softened, remove the mixture to a separate bowl.
  3. In the same stockpot, sauté the red onion, garlic, and ginger with a little salt until tender, about 7-9 minutes. When everything is soft, remove the mixture from the stockpot (you can put them in the separate bowl containing the pepper mix).
  4. Add the sugar, lime juice, soy sauce, and allspice berries to the stockpot and decrease the heat to medium-low. Stir until a dark caramel bubbles, about 7 minutes.
  5. Stir the flour and tomato paste into the caramel and cook for 4-5 minutes, until everything is dark and it no longer smells of flour.
  6. Return both the sautéed pepper mixture and the onion mixture to the pot, stir to combine. 
  7. Add the canned tomatoes, thyme sprigs, and carrots to the pot, stir to combine.
  8. Add the browned chicken and any juice that has accumulated while it rested, stir to combine.
  9. Add enough water to just cover the chicken, stir to combine. 
  10. Bring the pot just to the point of boiling, then drop the heat and put a lid on it. Simmer the pot for at least two hours (stirring whenever you feel compunction). Chicken should be tender and ready to fall apart when ready.