Saturday, 12 November 2011

Jamaican Chicken with Rice and Peas

One of our classic all-time favourite recipes is a Jamaican-style "Brown Stew Chicken", served with Rice and Peas ("Peas" of course meaning "Beans" in that part of the world!). My recipe is a variation on this theme, made in my usual style - which is to say that I use recipes for inspiration, without feeling obliged to follow them too strictly. The inspiration for this meal came mostly from Levi Roots...

Jamaican Chicken stew
Rice and Peas (in this case home-grown "Yin-Yang" beans)
Butternut Squash braised in coconut milk, with Good King Henry leaves
(In the Caribbean I'm sure they would use Callaloo or some similar greens, but I didn't have any Callaloo, and I did have GKH. You could use Spinach, Komatsuna or any sort of "Saag" vegetable.)

West Indian Fruit Salad

Good King Henry leaves

Chicken stew
2 large chicken portions [I used the breasts, but left them on the bone]
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
Half teaspoon crushed Allspice (Jamaican Pepper) berries
Half teaspoon Fennel seeds
2 Teaspoons Caribbean "Chicken Seasoning"
2 Teaspoons Caribbean "All Purpose Seasoning"
1 Teaspoon Curry Powder
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil for marinade
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil for frying
1 litre chicken stock
6 Spring onions (scallions) - green parts only [Reserve the white bits for the Rice and Peas]
Chilli peppers to taste [For authenticity, use a Scotch Bonnet]
2 1-inch cubes of fresh Ginger, peeled

Mix the Seasonings, Curry powder, Allspice and Fennel seeds with 1 tablespoonful of vegetable oil into a marinade, and rub it firmly into the chicken.
Cover with clingfilm and leave to marinate in the fridge for 2 - 8 hours
*******  Later... *******
Soften the onions in a little vegetable oil, in a large flameproof casserole, over a low heat.
When translucent, but not browned, add the garlic and cook for a further minute
Brown the chicken in a frying-pan with a little vegetable oil
Transfer the chicken to the casserole
Add the stock, Spring onion tops, Ginger and Chillis
Bring to the boil, turn down the heat, and simmer gently for approx 90 minutes
Adjust thickness of the sauce by adding more water if necessary (I added a bit of coconut milk, just because there was some left over.)
Just before serving, remove the Chillis and pieces of Ginger

Rice and peas
150g Basmati rice
60g dried beans, soaked and pre-cooked
6 Spring onions [White parts only]
1 Tablespoon fresh Thyme leaves, stripped from stalks
150ml Coconut Milk
150ml water

Cook the rice in your normal way [I used our electric rice-cooker], adding all the other ingredients right at the beginning.
Butternut Squash
Approx 400g Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into large pieces
2 large handfuls "greens"  [I used Good King Henry]
250ml Coconut milk
250ml water
Salt and Pepper to taste

Put the Squash into a deep oven-proof dish
Sprinkle with salt and black pepper
Add coconut milk (diluted as necessary with water) to cover
Cook in medium oven until tender (approx 40 mins)
Add the GKH leaves and cook for a further 2 - 5 minutes until wilted and soft

Plate-up the whole ensemble:-


West Indian Fruit Salad:
1 small Pineapple
1 Mango
1 small Papaya
1 2-inch cube fresh Ginger, peeled
1 handful fresh Mint

The Fruit Salad is dead easy to make: Prepare the fruit, saving about a third of each, and zuzz that bit up in a liquidiser, along with the Ginger and Mint (this from the garden of course). [I was tempted to add a measure of white rum, but somehow managed to resist!] Pour the resultant "sauce" - which has very much the texture of a Smoothie - over the other two-thirds of the fruit, and then mix it all together, and garnish it with some springs of Mint. Although in my photo the dish does look uncomfortably like boiled Carrots and Swede, I have to say that it tastes absolutely heavenly! The Mint and Ginger certainly liven-up what might otherwise have been some fairly bland fruit, since we seldom get really GOOD tropical fruits here in the UK.

Note on the Good King Henry.
In the past I have dismissed this herb as tasteless, but recently I read in a magazine that it is much better when cooked, which is why I decided to try it in my recipe. The result was quite pleasing. The GKH was quite "savoury" and not at all bitter. It also had a more robust texture than Spinach, which does tend to go sloppy quite easily. Certainly worth trying if you have some in your garden.


  1. Looks good Mark, the fruit salad in particular.

  2. Looks very good. I had tried to grow Good King Henry but never got it to grow. I would like to try it again.

  3. wow! The cooler weather certainly brings out the cheffy side of you!

  4. Yum that looks great! Something I've gotta try! I've never heard of GKH. Looks a bit like perpetual spinach?

  5. Mmn, I bet this supper packed a punch! Lovely recipe.

  6. Looks delicious. I've never tried Good King Henry.

  7. Love the recipe. I know the plant GKH (Chenopodium bonus-henricus. Is this some cultivar? I know that wild species are edible too.

  8. Yummy! That Butternut Squash is quite similar to Malay style of cooking squash/pumpkin in coconut milk gravy recipe..:) we call it Sayur Lemak Labu/ Masak Lemak Labu ;)

  9. Your homegrown ying yang beans look wonderful in this rice and peas dish. I'll be making rice and peas soon too, but my pigeon peas will be coming out of a tin :(

    The Butternut Squash recipe intrigues me.


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