Caribbean Chicken Stew

Caribbean Chicken Stew

Caribbean ChickenThe other night found me planted in front of the television which is a very rare thing. I don’t watch much television. That said, an episode of Giada came on the Food Network and she mentioned something about Trinidadian Chicken Stew. That captured my attention pretty darn quick. I’m a sucker for tropical food.

It doesn’t help that it’s cold and gray here. I even heard the dreaded “snow” word in the weather forecast for the coming days.

So, I plopped myself down, hoping that Giada’s recipe would have me mentally transported to some lovely beach where I would sip a frozen drink while listening to steel drums. Even if only in my head.

As I watched Giada cook, I thought that the idea of the chicken stew was good but missing a few ingredients. So, I went onto the Food Network website to see if maybe there was more to the recipe. There wasn’t.

And this of course meant that it was time to play in the kitchen….

garlic and cilantroOne of the things that I found curious about Giada’s recipe was that the chicken wasn’t marinated before cooking. I had visions of garlic, cilantro and thyme dancing in my head. A rub made with those ingredients seemed like a very good idea.

caribbean chickenAnd while culantro is one of the more traditional herb choices in Caribbean cuisine, we don’t get culantro in these here parts. Cilantro, culantro’s cousin, is not as widely used in the Caribbean, but it’s what I had access to. And I do love cilantro!

In this recipe I’m using a full cup of the herb, but I recognize that not everyone loves cilantro like I do. Feel free to use more or less depending on your own taste.

molasses and chickenMy next change to Giada’s recipe was to use molasses instead of brown sugar to brown my chicken pieces.

The reason for this is that brown sugar is a finicky beast when it comes to heat. It will go from lovely to scorched in the blink of an eye. Life is stressful enough, thank you very much. I prefer to work with the slower to anger molasses. And to keep that heat nice and even, use a heavy pot like this 9qt Le Creuset pot for slow even cooking. I swear by my cast iron Dutch ovens.

Now, before you go off thinking that this is a sweet chicken dish, it isn’t. The molasses will give the dish a hint of smokiness and an underlying hard to pinpoint flavor that will have your guests wondering what the secret ingredient is. A little mystery, if you will.

caribbean chicken stewBouncing back to Giada’s recipe yet again, she used water as her liquid of choice. Not me. I used light coconut milk which I think gives the stew more body and flavor. And while using coconut milk is more for curries than for stews, it works.

cooked chicken piecesAfter the chicken pieces are browned, they are piled up in a big dutch oven and slow cooked which also strays from the original recipe. I prefer to cook dishes like this a little slower in the oven rather than on the range. I think the longer it cooks, the better the flavor develops.

chopped veggiesBut a stew isn’t a stew without the veggies. So, before I popped it into the oven I added cubed potatoes, yams, carrots and plantains. Plantains are my very favorite starch. I especially like them fried like potato chips and served with a margarita. That was part of my daydream sunny beach scenario.

An hour and a half later, I had a plate of sunshine. And while my recipe is nothing like Giada’s, I have to thank her for the inspiration. It sure brightened up our day!

caribbean chicken stew

4.8 from 5 reviews
Caribbean Chicken Stew
Recipe type: entree
Cuisine: Caribbean
Serves: 8
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
A hearty chicken stew filled with the flavors of the Caribbean.
  • 4 lbs chicken pieces, I used legs and breasts with skin on
For Marinade
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • _____________________
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 13.6oz an light coconut milk
  • 4 Tbsp tomato paste
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ tsp powdered ginger
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • _______________________
  • 2 large white potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large yam, peeled and cubed
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into large rounds
  • 1 plantain, peeled and sliced into large rounds
  1. Combine cilantro, garlic, peppers, thyme, oil and salt and pepper in a medium sized bowl. Spread mixture over raw chicken pieces and place in a large plastic bag. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for twenty four hours.
  2. In a large dutch oven, heat oil and molasses. Brown chicken pieces in the molasses mixture. This may take two batches of browning for four pounds of chicken. (It did for me)Place browned chicken on a plate.
  3. Once chicken is browned, preheat oven to 375º.
  4. Cook onion in the leftover molasses/oil mixture that remains in the bottom of your dutch oven. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the stuck on cooked molasses as there is a lot of flavor in those bits.
  5. Cook onion until translucent. Add coconut milk, tomato paste, water, powdered ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. Allow this to cook for three to four minutes.
  6. Add salt and pepper. Be sure to take a taste to see if it needs more salt.
  7. Place chicken pieces back in dutch oven on top of sauce. Cover with veggies.
  8. Add some more salt and a generous amount of fresh ground black pepper to the veggies.
  9. Cover and cook in oven for 90 minutes. Serve over white rice and garnish with cilantro or parsley and some diced red pepeper.

There are affiliate links in this post that I believe are helpful products for this recipe.


  1. As someone that’s better versed in photography than food, I just want to let you know that your food photography is beautiful! You obviously take the time to stage everything in a fresh, appealing manner and it shows! Keep up the great work!

    • Well, thank you very much! You just made my day. Truly. I’ve been working hard to understand my camera better and if I could show you how many food styling books I’ve devoured, oy. There’s a lot to know. Thank you so much for the compliment. 🙂

  2. Cannot wait to try it – and I will make the margaritas to go with it!! AND I agree, the photos are mouth watering!

    • Thanks Lynn! So many people I know are on vacation right now. This is about as close as I can get to the beach. A warm one anyway. 🙂

  3. This sounds so good, and I love coconut milk so I really can’t wait to try making this myself.

  4. Maddy is absolutely right Melanie, your pix of your wonderful recipe are fantastic!! Your studying has paid off and you recipe development skills taking Giada’s original and making it much better, fabulous!! I can’t wait to try this recipe!! Well done!!

  5. I live in a tropical country but not at all near the Caribbean. I have to say this recipe of yours uses many familiar flavours but all mixed together, I think it’s brilliant! Never had plantain in stew before. I can see how it will stand up to the heat and flavours. Nice.

  6. This sounds devine. Do you think tofu would work if I wanted to make it veggie?

  7. Do you think this would work in a crock pot? Is a dutch oven the same thing as a pyrex casserole dish with glass lid? I don’t have a dutch oven but loads of pyrex – ha! Thanks

    • Sure, you could toss this in a crock pot. Just be sure to brown the chicken in a skillet first. That initial step adds a lot of flavor. 🙂

  8. Looks great! I think the coconut milk add was brilliant. I agree with you about plaitains though and think when I try this I will fry them and have them on the side.

  9. Found this on Pinterest and tried this tonight, yeah should have marinate the chicken for 24 hours but it taste great. I did not use Plantain in my recipe because banana types have a reaction of stomach discomfort. Also in the small town which I from they only had bananas. Other wise might have tried it. So to add something in its place I added okra. Great smell in my kitchen can’t wait to take my left overs for lunch tomorrow, girls will be intrigued.

  10. Traci B. says:

    Oh wow – this looks wonderful and I can’t wait to try it, since I lived in the islands “many a moon” ago…

  11. Hmm hmm. Now this is worth trying out. Will serve with plain rice (unsalted)
    Thanks for sharing this.

  12. Sounds yummy. I’m going to try substituting yucca for the potato.

  13. My Husband is from Belize , so I know this will taste like home. However, can I use skinless chicken?


  14. I don’t often comment on recipes, however this one is so good that I had to comment right away! I made the recipe as called for (however, I admit I did add a dash of allspice and a chopped tomato to the pot.) I don’t have a dutch oven, so I followed the instructions up to step 7, then put everything in the crockpot this morning on low. (I had marinated the chicken overnight and added the remains of the marinade to my pot.) It has been about 7.5 hours and the meat is just falling apart (I used thighs and skinless breasts). The flavors are so wonderful and really work well together. We travel to Jamaica every year, so anything “Caribbean” always catches my eye. Thank you for the great recipe – this one is a keeper!

  15. AMAZING!! Going to try and make more of your recipes!! I really loved browning the chicken with the molasses!! It was hard not to eat right there!! The gravy was even more wonderful!! So much flavor. Just went to the caribean and had this dish! This is the real thing

  16. This looks great… I tasted the sauce before I put it in the oven and it doesn’t have much taste. Does it get better after it’s cooked? The smell is intoxicating though. I also added some five spice powder and allspice.

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