Sunday, November 25, 2012

Jamaican Curried Chicken

After the sweet gluttony of Thanksgiving, I was craving something spicy and savory. I spent each summer in Jamaica while growing up and my favorite dish that our housekeepers made us was curried chicken. It's the ultimate comfort food. I would sit quietly outside the small, steamy kitchen watching these lovely women prepare my family this wholesome, satisfying meal while the sparkling Caribbean sea lapped quietly at the edge of our villa. I have been so blessed to learn some terrific Jamaican food from these hard working, proud and loving women, many of whom were retired and crossed the island to come offer me condolences when I returned after my parents passed away. They lovingly wrapped me in their arms while tears streamed down their faces as they soothed me with their gentle words and showered me with maternal love. This meal offers me a sense of love and peace and is my homage to Ullalee, Beverly and Claire- three of the best people I've ever had the privilege to know and love.

When we returned to Jamaica last year I stocked up on their spices and amazing ketchup, but the internet has now made the products easily available, or I jaunt over to Fiesta in East Austin where they carry Jamaican curry spices.

1 whole chicken cut into small pieces, but I used three whole bone in breasts today with skin removed.
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 large onion, halved
1 carrot cut into large chunks
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onion sprigs- whole
5 sprigs fresh thyme
3 Tbs Jamaican curry powder (The curry does not actually have curry seasoning, but is mainly tumeric, cumin, thyme, garlic, fenugreek, ginger and cloves).
1 Scotch Bonnet pepper or habanero pepper. Jalapeno could be used as well.

In a dutch oven, heat about 2 tbs oil, brown chicken, set aside on a plate and then brown onions, garlic, carrots and pepper until softened over medium low heat- about 10 minutes. Add chicken back to the pan, curry seasoning, stock, coconut milk and thyme sprigs. A splash of red stripe beer is also nice :-) Cover and lpace in the oven at 250 degrees about 2.5 hours. Serve with beans and rice. Jamaicans usually use pingeon peas, but I had black beans in my pantry, so used those. This is some of the best tasting rice you will ever eat!!
 Ya mon

 After about one hour. I strain the sauce through a mesh strainer and toss away the aromatics.

Rice Broth
1 cup rice
2 cups water
3 minced garlic cloves
1 green onion
1 bay leaf
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 tbs butter or smart balance-
Cook the rice in the broth until done, discard the bay leaf and green onion, stir in beans and serve with curry.

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