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Jamaican Chicken...No names needed
March 31, 2006

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Jamaican Chicken

Few people have talked about different spice combinations that stand out when it comes to Jamaican cooking. If there is a hint, sometimes, of any changes, you might get that un-agreeing nod from those whom you most trust to add a positive comment to help you escape the monotony of ‘the same ol’ same ol’, you know. Yah Mon!

For example, any dish that has its roots in the traditional vein such as, Curry Chicken would not be considered a fare that could be ‘adjusted’ beyond the expected taste because, by default, it is what it is…Curry Chicken and that is that, although I disagree.

If you were bold enough to go, where no one has gone before and meddle with the Holy Grail of Jamaican red meat, Goat, there is no telling what might happen to you, one way or another.

In a society such as Jamaica, which values the verdict of the community, one can only imagine the comments and to an extent the action which may follow your taking on the ‘task’ of changing the marriages between, goat and curry, jerk and pork, rice and peas, patty and coco bread, etc. However, with all that said, when ‘hard time’ comes you never know what happens.

The ample combinations of spices and seasonings in many a pots, become somewhat of a culinary showdown. Nothing on the scale of an Iron Chef competition, but rather a need for the survival one’s palate in any constrained circumstance.

The other day my wife, Mavis, talked about this chicken dinner we used to eat when we were children. Everybody loved chicken an’ rice, from Kingston to Galtego Bay (Montego Bay) and beyond. Was the making of this chicken dinner innovation on the part of our parents? On the other hand, was this an attempt to try a different combination of seasonings with modern sauces? And, the questions go on and on, nevertheless.

By the way, this was way before Jerk Chicken reached its ‘tipping point or critical mass’ around the world as a Jamaican original.

This chicken dish has no name…it is called Chicken.

Later on I heard the name Fricasseed Chicken referring to this chicken dish, but who really thought of it as that? In a way, I feel that name may be an attempt to label this dish because it so resembles Brown Stew Chicken, in many ways.

However, this chicken dish uses modern sauces as an aid with the traditional seasonings to bring out the flavor in the meat. This use of natural and bottled commercial ingredients could be attributed to anything that you and I can imagine.

Notwithstanding, the verdict is not out or conclusive on this delicious Jamaican chicken dinner…You be the judge, jury, and executioner.

(Jamaican) Chicken

2 lbs. Chicken (8 or 10 cut)

2 tsp. Salt

½ tsp. Black Pepper

1 Onion (chopped)

1 Tomato (diced)

2 tbsp. tomato Ketchup

1 clove Garlic (chopped)

3 sprig Thyme

2 tbsp. Vinegar or Lime Juice

Cooking Oil

Wash the chicken in a solution of vinegar and water to remove the smell and other biological matter. Drain solution from the chicken and discard the water. Rub the seasonings into the chicken, except the ketchup of course. Let the seasoned chicken sit in a bowl for about 30 to 45 minutes.

Heat the pot on high with the cooking oil in it and then turn down the fire to medium. Remove the seasonings from the chicken pieces and put the pieces of chicken into the oil to fry. You do not want to fry the chicken until it’s crisp because you are not making fried chicken. You are browning the chicken so that it will have some color when you are finished cooking it.

When you fry all the chicken pieces, remove some of the oil from the pot and then add the seasonings to the chicken with four ounces of water. Cover the pot and let the chicken simmer for about 15 minutes. However, check the pot after ten minutes to make sure that you still have enough water in the pot.

Now add the ketchup to the pot and cook for another five minutes, or until most of the water has evaporated.

Serve with white rice. But I challenge you to serve it with mashed potatoes instead. Or mashed sweet potatoes.

Yah Mon!

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