The litmus test for any Caribbean cook is the ability to make a good stew, however the art of stewing remains a mystery to some. One key component to mastering a Caribbean stew is understanding that timing is everything. Once you have all your ingredients prepped beforehand, the right utensils and the commitment to pay close attention to your pot then you will be well on your way to delicious stew.
You need the right tools for the job. For a good stew those tools would be a heavy, round bottom iron pot and a wooden spoon. The wooden spoon is perfect for caramelizing the sugar as opposed to a metal spoon, which the caramelized sugar tends to stick to. The heavy, round bottom iron pot is essential as its design helps for an even dispersion of heat across the surface of the pot and its rounded bottom is perfect for the braising part of the process, allowing the steam action to produce the braising liquid that leaves our meat partially submerged in the process.
For this stew chicken I used all fresh ingredients: Ginger, Garlic, Shadon Beni, Thyme, Scotch Bonnet Pepper, Salt & Black Pepper. You would notice that in the video below I didn’t add any extra seasoning. That’s because my chicken was already well seasoned and no additional seasoning was necessary.
Put pot on medium to low heat.
When the oil starts to get hot, add your brown sugar.
As the sugar crystals start to melt and the caramelization process begins, go in with your wooden spoon and keep stirring it until it starts to get frothy, this would take about one minute.
Just as the sugar turns from light brown to dark brown, add your chicken. Keep stirring because you want the pieces of chicken to get an even coating from the caramelized sugar.
Once all the pieces are evenly coated allow the chicken to cook uncovered for about 5 minutes.
Then cover the pot and allow the chicken to cook on low heat for about 8 minutes. Don’t add any liquid at this point. You want to allow the chicken to spring its own liquid and let that along with the steam action happening in the covered pot really cook the chicken. This will ensure great flavor in your chicken.
After about 8-10 minutes your mixture should have dried down. Now you can deglaze the pot with liquid. I used about a ½ cup of water here but you could use coconut milk if you want.
Cover the pot and allow it to cook for another 5 -8 minutes.
And that’s it! Perfect stewed chicken the Caribbean way.