Chicken stew is one of those classic dishes that once you’ve mastered the base you can add different veggies to it, to spice it up every now and then. 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 as much as possible.
For this dish I am using bone-in, skin off chicken thighs but you can use drumstick, or a whole chicken cut into pieces. I find that using dark meat bone-in chicken versus chicken breasts makes it a bit more succulent and tasty.
Start with about 2 1/2 lbs of bone-in, skinless chicken thighs. I cut them in half, cutting a large chunk of the fleshy part off, because it is easy to serve the kiddos these pieces. Then I add all my dry seasoning, tomato paste and cassareep (you can use browning sauce or “burnt sugar” in place of cassareep). I like to marinade my chicken for at least 1/2 hour before I start cooking.
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. Before the sugar gets to that stage I will add my meat and other ingredients. I don’t let the sugar get to that 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 15 to 30 minutes, because I want all of the onion and tomato sauce to cook down and all of the liquids to cook off while the chicken is sautéing.
Up next, I add my diced potatoes and carrots and continue to sauté on high heat. 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.
I cook down my stew until it is in a thick brown gravy and the potatoes are soft enough that a fork easily crushes it but not too mushy, although mushy potatoes in stew is equally delicious.
- 6 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs (about 2.5 lbs)
- 1 tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp ginger powder
- 1 tsp parsley flakes
- 1 tsp dried thyme (can substitute with chopped fresh thyme)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp cassareep or browning liquid
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 whole yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 3 roma tomatoes, diced
- 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 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.
- In a large pot, warm oil on high heat. Then add diced onions and chopped garlic, followed by brown sugar. 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 will take approximately 30 minutes.
- 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.