Jamaican Chicken Stew
Hot Fluffy Rice
Tropical Mixed Fruits
Iced Tea, Lemonade or Fruit Drink
This menu makes enough to feed 4 starving lumberjacks, or a hungry family of 6. It’s pretty spicy and for sure does not taste like your mother’s food storage meals! Thyme, Allspice and Hot Peppers give it an exotic flavor similar to Jamaican Jerk.
The main recipe is adapted from one that appeared in Cooking Light Magazine in the year 2000.
In this menu I use easy to cook Instant Rice because it makes better use of fuel and time, which are at a premium when camping or when the electricity goes out. If you prefer to use regular white rice, or brown rice, then feel free to do so.
This meal is gluten-free and casein-free. It can be made from dry goods available in most supermarkets.
Jamaican Chicken Stew
- 2 (12-ounce) cans chicken, undrained
- 1 (10-ounce) can tomatoes with cilantro and lime, undrained (Rotel Brand)
- 1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas or black beans, drained
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or ground red pepper, optional (see note)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons dry minced onion
- 1 or 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Gather together the canned goods and stash in your meal box. Combine all of the ingredients for Bag 1 in a small zipper bag or other small resealable container. Place it in with the cans.
Open all of the cans. Drain the black-eyed peas or black beans. Rinse them if possible. Don’t worry about it if you can’t. In a 3-quart saucepan combine all of the canned ingredients. Add the contents of Bag 1 and the vegetable oil. Stir briefly. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer the stew for about 10 minutes, to bring out all of the flavors. Serve over bowls of rice.
This stew uses many of the flavors found in traditional Jamaican Jerk. It’s pretty spicy, especially if you’re unfamiliar with Jamaican food. This recipe is less spicy than genuine Jamaican Chicken stew, but is still plenty hot.
Traditionally Jamaicans use scotch bonnet peppers for this dish. These are somewhat difficult to find in American supermarkets, so I have substituted red pepper flakes instead. If you want something a little more authentic, then omit the red pepper flakes. When you prepare the stew add 1-teaspoon of habanero style hot pepper sauce. This is easy to find in the Latino section of many supermarkets. Habanero peppers have approximately the same level of heat as scotch bonnet peppers and a similar flavor. At my house we always make it with the habanero sauce instead of the red pepper flakes. Hot pepper sauces keep well without refrigeration.
If you are serving this meal to children, you may want to completely omit all hot peppers or pepper sauce. The canned tomatoes used in this recipe have a little bit of heat in them already, so you’ll still get a bit of pepper flavor without the heat which could burn their tongues.
Thyme and allspice are traditional Jamaican seasonings. They make this dish into something really good. Make sure your allspice is fresh. Old allspice can give the stew a somewhat moldy flavor that does not taste good. If you’re leery about using allspice in this way, try using only 1/4 teaspoon to start with. You can increase it if you find you like the flavor.
I almost always use black-eyed peas for this dish because I come from the South and we like black-eyed peas, which are also a traditional Jamaican food. If you don’t like black-eyed peas, then feel free to use black beans instead. Their deep color looks quite pretty with the chicken and tomatoes in the stew.
If you can’t find chili lime tomatoes, then tomatoes canned with green chili peppers make a fine substitute.
Hot Fluffy Rice
- 4 cups instant white rice
- 32-ounces (4 cups) water
Measure the rice and place it in a zipper bag or plastic tub with a good lid. Place it in the meal box along with the bottled water.
In a 2-quart saucepan with a good lid, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Stir in the rice. Return the water to a boil. Cover the pot. Turn off the flame. If possible wrap the hot pot in a towel or blanket. Allow it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes (or longer if necessary). Use as desired.
- 2 (15-ounce) cans tropical mixed fruit, packed in light syrup
- Optional: 1/4 cup dry coconut, sweetened or not, as desired
To Store & Prepare
Place the cans of fruit in the meal box along with the other canned goods. If you want to use the coconut then simply measure it out and place it in a small zipper bag or other resealable container.
When you’re ready to serve the fruit you can simply spoon it from the can. If you want something a little fancier then drain the juice from the cans and add it to your iced tea or fruit drink that you’re serving with the meal. Pour the fruit into a pretty serving bowl and sprinkle the coconut on top. This is quite good, and helps to alleviate the heat from the stew.
- 2-quarts to 1-gallon of water
- Your Favorite Instant Drink Mix
Determine if you will need 2-quarts or a full gallon of water to feed your crew. Measure enough Lemonade Mix or Instant Iced Tea or even kool-aid and sugar, to make the amount you need. If you prefer something sugar free like Crystal Light, that’s fine too. Store it in a zipper bag. Label it and place it in your meal box along with everything else. Stored water has a flat flavor, so your meal will be more appealing if you flavor the water you serve.