Jamaican Chicken Curry with Rum and “Love Apples” is a luscious Caribbean curried stew that is perfect for the end of summer and beginning of fall. Affiliate links have been used to link to items I discuss in this post.
I moved around a fair amount in my twenties and early thirties, and I have had a revelation since this last move. Leaving behind all of the “favorites” (favorite restaurant, favorite store, etc) from a location you lived in for 3 years or less is very different from leaving behind those choices you have grown accustomed to somewhere you lived for eight years. Especially when you now have kids and those kids have opinions as well about all of it.
In other words, the fact that I cannot get the Tillamook cheeses I want (medium cheddar and Monterey Jack) or the Jack’s salsa that we lived on is driving me out of my mind. To name two examples. Ironically, it is not stuff from Jungle Jim’s I am missing–which is not to say I don’t miss it, but just to say I guess I expected to have a harder time finding a lot of those things. In many cases the very rareness of those items has made them easier to find in places like Asian grocers (currently I am loving Lotus Food Company), Indian grocers (haven’t explored yet), liquor stores, and of course the Internet. But it never occurred to me that the basic American made foods that we are addicted to would be so hard to find.
OK now that I have gotten that vent off of my chest! Let’s talk about this Jamaican Chicken Curry–which necessitates also mentioning the incredible cookbook it is adapted from. Diana Henry’s A Bird in the Hand: Chicken recipes for every day and every mood has been on my wish list since it came out because, well, Diana Henry. Her books rock. But this book superceded my expectations. If you like chicken and you like interesting (but not intimidating!) recipes, you must own this cookbook. I think I have the entire thing bookmarked. The recipes therein are inspired by flavors from all over the world and you can find something appropriate to just about any meal (weekday fast, lunch, Sunday dinner, etc).
This Jamaican Chicken Curry with Rum and “Love Apples” was a huge hit with the entire family. Because of the potatoes and winter squash (you could also use yams or sweet potatoes) I chose to serve it as a stew and not with rice. The love apples–what tomatoes are called in Jamaica–come together easily and quickly, and I do not recommend you skip adding them to the curry. This dish is especially perfect for fall–I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am so ready for jeans and sweaters, football, and slow cooked dishes!
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken parts--I prefer a mix of half dark and half white
- 1 T curry powder plus more later (see below)
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice plus more later (see below)
- 2-3 T virgin coconut oil, plus more later
- salt to taste
- 1+ lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into bite-sized chunks
- 1 scant lb potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
- 2 t ground allspice
- 1 T curry powder
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 T heaping ginger paste or 1-inch piece minced
- 1 sweet bell pepper, chopped
- 6 scallions chopped, green parts separated from white/light green parts
- 4-6 thyme sprigs plus more for later (see below)
- zest of 2 limes
- 1 14-oz can coconut milk
- 1 T virgin coconut oil
- 24 oz cherry or grape tomatoes (larger ones sliced in half)
- 1 T brown sugar
- 3 T rum (I used a good golden rum--my second choice would be spiced before white)
- juice of half lime plus more to taste
- 1 T brown sugar if needed
- leaves from 2 thyme sprigs
Place the chicken in a sealable plastic bag. Whisk together the lime juice and the 1 tablespoon of curry powder, and then pour into the plastic bag. Massage the curry lime juice into the chicken, and then seal the bag and place it in a bowl in the refrigerator. Let chill and marinate overnight.
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Pat the chicken pieces dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the coconut oil to the pot--when it is melted and shimmering, brown the chicken in batches. Set aside.
Add the butternut squash and potatoes into the hot Dutch oven. Sprinkle with salt, let fry undisturbed for 2-3 minutes, then toss, salt and repeat. Do this 3 times.
Sprinkle the allspice, 1 tablespoon curry powder, garlic and ginger into the Dutch oven. Toss. Add the bell pepper and white and light scallion parts and toss again. Cook for 2 minutes.
Add the lime zest, 4-6 thyme sprigs (use less for longer sprigs, more for shorter) and the coconut milk. Toss in the browned chicken, along with any accumulated juices, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cover the pot. While the chicken is braising, prepare the love apples.
In a separate nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. When it is melted and shimmering, add the tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes and let juices evaporate. Then add the brown sugar and let the tomatoes caramelize in the sugar for another 2-3 minutes.
When the chicken has cooked through, probably about 15-20 minutes, add the caramelized tomatoes to the stew. Then add the rum and the juice of half a lime. Taste for more salt or lime juice. Add the 1 tablespoon brown sugar if needed.
Serve sprinkled with thyme leaves and the green parts of the scallions.