Chicken stew is one of those classic dishes that once you've mastered the base you can add any combination of veggies for a bit of variety. I cook chicken stew at least once a week. My 5 year old really likes chicken stew with rice, so I know that when that's for dinner he'll eat all of his food, which doesn't happen often. I add potatoes and carrots to my chicken stew because I have a picky eater so I need to sneak veggies into dishes.
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Choose bone-in chicken versus boneless
Stews are slowed cooked and bone in chicken adds a rich depth of flavor to this chicken stew. I bought bone-in, skin on chicken thighs and then removed the skin. You can also use chicken drumsticks or a combination of drumsticks and thighs or even a whole chicken butchered into pieces. I season my chicken with a house blend of dried herbs, some tomato paste and Guyanese Cassareep. Sub cassareep with coconut aminos if you are on a Whole30 round.
Amp Up the Flavor in your Chicken Stew
Next, I cook my onions and garlic in some brown sugar. It is important to note here that I am not "burning the sugar" or making a dark caramel, as most Guyanese cooks do before making stews (see below for instructions on making this sugar free and Whole30). Before the sugar gets to that stage add seasoned chicken. I don't let the sugar get to that burnt sugar stage because what I'm actually doing here is making a kind of caramelized onions, but cheating since caramelized onions take forever to make. This will add a sweet flavor to the stew without it tasting like I just poured sugar into it. And later when you bite into the onions it will taste a bit caramelized. Trust me, it's delicious.
Once the onions and garlic are nicely browned, I add the tomatoes and cook down into a bit of a mushy sauce. Then I add my seasoned chicken. Don't skip this next step or you will end up with boiled chicken. I sear the chicken on high heat, constantly turning it until it is brown on all sides. This step can take up to 15 minutes, because the aim is for all the onion and tomato sauce to cook down and all of the liquids to cook off while the chicken is sautéing.
Bring on the veggies
Adding diced potatoes and carrots makes this stew a hearty stew. Once all of the liquids cook off, I add 4 cups of chicken broth or water, cover and continue to cook on high heat. Cooking time varies depending on how fast your potatoes cook. Sometimes I have to add another 2 to 4 cups of liquid, if the liquid cooks down before the potatoes are soft. At this point you should also taste your stew and add a bit more salt if needed. I use iodized sea salt, which is a bit course and with the addition of the chicken broth, one teaspoon of salt is all I need. Once the stew cooks down to a thick delicious gravy you are done.
Make it Whole30!
When on a Whole30 round and in my quest to choose more sugar free options, I have adjusted this recipe and it is still just as delicious. To make this recipe Whole30, skip the sugar when sautéing your onions, you absolutely DO NOT need it. Use sweet onions instead of yellow onions for onions that are naturally sweet (if you like).
Additionally swap the cassareep for coconut aminos. Traditionally Cassareep (made from cassava juice) would be Whole30 compliant, but these days we can't trust that there isn't added sugar in cassareep. I get my cassareep directly from Guyana and there is no ingredient label on mine, so I choose to just skip it and use something that I know is Whole30 safe. Sometimes I swap the white potatoes for sweet potatoes for a more nutrient dense carb or I add some butternut squash. Mix it up and have fun with this recipe.
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Chicken and Potato Stew
- 6 skinless bone-in chicken thighs (about 2.5 lbs)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon parsley flakes
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme can substitute with fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon cassareep or 1 teaspoon browning liquid For Whole30 use ¼ cup of coconut aminos
- 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste (Choose compliant tomato paste if doing Whole300
- 1 whole yellow onion diced
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar skip if on Whole30
- 3 roma tomatoes diced
- 2 russet potatoes peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2 carrots peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 4 to 8 cups of liquids chicken broth/stock or water
- Cut chicken thighs into halves, then season with salt, ginger powder, parsley flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, oregano, cassareep and tomato paste and let marinade for at least 30 mins before cooking
- If on Whole30 add coconut aminos, instead of cassareep
- In a large pot, warm oil on high heat. Then add diced onions and chopped garlic, followed by brown sugar (skip the brown sugar if on a Whole30 round) Cook until the sugar starts to caramelize and the onions get brown.
- Then add diced tomatoes just before the sugar starts to burn or become black in color. Cook until tomatoes are soft and mushy.
- Add marinaded chicken and cook on high heat for 15 to 30 minutes, sautéing and turning constantly to avoid burning. Cook until all of the liquids cook off.
- Add the potatoes and carrots and continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes to avoid sticking.
- Add 4 cups of liquids, cover and cook until potatoes are soft, this can take up to 30 minutes, depending on how long it takes for your potatoes to cook to a fork tender stage
- Cook down until the stew thickens but be careful to avoid burning it
2. I like to season my chicken in the morning and then start cooking sometime in the early afternoon to be ready in time for dinner. When I lived in Guyana we would always cook in time for lunch, so we would season our meat the day before.
3. When cutting the chicken thighs into halves, you can chop the bone if you prefer (many Guyanese ppl do it that way). I don't chop the bones, because I don't want bone fragments in my food. I have little ones and don't want them choking on bone fragments.
4. In the last step of this recipe, you may need to add 2 to 4 more cups of liquid if your potatoes take a long time to get soft. If more liquid is needed add a cup or two at a time so that you don't end up having too much gravy when the dish is done.
5. I cook down my stew until it is really thick and the gravy clings to the meat and potatoes.