How To Make My Aunt's Brown Stew Chicken — Without A Recipe

Refinery29's My Kitchen Sink is an exploration of our most meaningful recipes — the go-to dishes that we turn to time and again. Not only do we enjoy eating them, and have the assembly mastered, but they also have an important personal history. Step into our kitchens to relive these stories, learn the recipes, and make them with us.
Today, we're making Jamaican brown stew chicken with rice, peas, and plantains. The recipe comes from Refinery29's Weekend Social Media Editor, Nikki Tucker, who inherited it through a line of female family members that love to cook — without measurements. “Any family meal for us is a production. Food is like our love language,” she says.
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The dish was originally passed down from Tucker's Jamaican grandmother, who always made the dish, but she actually learned to cook the brown stew chicken firsthand from her Auntie Sonya (the source of all her cooking inspiration). Nikki swears she wouldn't change a thing about the recipe because it's perfect just the way her Auntie taught it to her: "Not to toot my own horn, but my friends, little brother, cousins all really love anything I cook. I think the cooking gene runs in our family, I just embrace it more. I want to make sure I always keep a part of my culture with me."
Check out Nikki's cooking gene in action above as she shows us how to make her family's famous Jamaican brown stew chicken, without any measurements (she did share a loose recipe for us to follow below). If you do try making the stew, be sure to follow her mother's advice to "clean while you cook."
Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken With Rice, Peas & Plantains
Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken Ingredients
1 small whole chicken cut into portions (I tend to use 2 breasts, 3 thighs)
2-3 carrots
1 container thyme
1 bunch scallions
2-3 garlic cloves
1-2 tomatoes
4-5 baby Irish potatoes
1 Scotch Bonnet pepper
Dried rosemary seasoning (Lawry's Seasoning or Mrs. Dash)
Instructions
1. I personally like to season my chicken overnight with one of the above mentioned seasonings and a bit of thyme, scallion, and garlic.
2. Cut your carrots, tomatoes, and baby Irish potatoes into smaller pieces.
3. Pour enough olive oil to coat the pan, and bring your stove top to a medium high. Once the oil is simmering, remove the thyme, scallion, and garlic, and place your pieces of chicken and let them fry into it's a nice golden brown, flip and repeat for all pieces.
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4. In the same pot that you fry the pieces of chicken, leave the chicken and add the thyme, scallions, garlic, carrots, tomatoes, and 1 cup of water.
5. Turn heat to low and cover pan. Let the chicken stew/simmer for 25-30mins. Tasting as necessary to add salt, as carrots absorb salt. As the chicken stews, start making your rice and peas (see below).
*Bonus: for a little spice add 1 whole scotch bonnet pepper at the last 5-7 minutes.
Rice & Peas Ingredients
1 kidney beans, including liquid
1 can coconut milk
Water (approximately 1-2/3 cups)
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
Small onion or scallion, chopped
A few sprigs fresh thyme
Salt, to taste
1 cup brown rice
Instructions
1. Drain the liquid from the can of beans into a measuring cup and add the can of coconut milk and enough water to make four cups of liquid.
2. Add liquid, beans, garlic, chopped onion and thyme to large pot and salt to taste.
3. Add rice and boil on high for two minutes.
4. Turn heat to low and cook covered until all water is absorbed (about 15 to 20 min). As rice cooks, fry the plantains (see below.)
Fried Plantains Ingredients
3-4 tbsp olive oil, for frying
1-1/2 plantain, sliced
Salt, to taste
Instructions
1. Peel the plantains.
2. Pour oil into small frying pan and heat on medium high.
3. Cut plantains up into small pieces season with a dash of salt.
4. Once oil is simmering, add plantains and cook on each side until golden brown.