• Lucie Ellis

97. *Archive* Caribbean Chicken Stew

*SISTER TAKEOVER* I have been nagging Lu for some time to re-write some of the posts from her first blog, which I think are both very funny and full of great recipes (once you get to them!) So... lifted from "Halloween, Cackle, Cackle.." first posted on 19th October 2011, check out this fab recipe which I have made many times and can guarantee never fails!

I am blessed to be the proud owner of the perfect Halloween recipe which I have cooked on October 31st every year since 1996 when it was first passed to me by my beloved friend, Tall Sarah. In her fabulous honour I’m going to share it with you!

There are multiple reasons why this is absolutely the right dish for Halloween.

  1. Its main ingredient is pumpkin and, well, you’ll have plenty of that kicking about after you’ve carved your scary lantern and it doesn’t matter what state the flesh is in as its purpose is to melt into the sauce making it gorgeously thick.

  2. It is orange! The colour of Halloween (along with black, but black food with a few exceptions – liquorice, squid ink risotto, devil’s chocolate cake – is not very appealing!)

  3. It can be served in a bowl and eaten with a spoon so is perfect for standing-up party food.

  4. You can’t mess it up. Just can’t. And it can be made in advance and warmed up when you want it; Easy!

  5. It is simply delicious.

This is best prepared by candlelight; shadows flickering spookily on the walls as you chop.

Serves about 6:

1 orange pumpkin, seeds removed, flesh scooped out, face carved into a grotesque animation (actually my attempts always end up quite cute looking), and lit with tea lights

4 chicken breasts or 6 thighs, skinned and boned, chopped into large 3cm chunks

2 large parsnips, chopped into large 2-3cm chunks

2 large carrots, as above

1 large onion, roughly chopped

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 litre chicken stock

2 – 3 limes, juiced

100ml bacardi (or more if you fancy)

2 sachets Saison Goya seasoning, or if you can’t find that, another Latino seasoning such at Bart’s ‘Creole’ or ‘Fajita’ spice mix – use a couple of heaped teaspoons.

In a very large, heavy-bottomed (a bit like myself) deep saucepan for which you have a lid, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and gently saute the onion and garlic till soft.

Add the chicken and cook for a couple of minutes until it begins to colour, then add the parsnips and carrots and give them 4-5 minutes to begin to soften, season with salt and pepper during this time.

Stir through a couple of teaspoons of your spice mix, then add 3/4 of the stock, and all the bacardi and lime juice.

Next add the pumpkin flesh, squishing the squash down underneath the liquid, and bring to the boil.

Turn the heat right down, cover with a lid, and leave to simmer very gently for at least an hour, after which time the lid can be removed to reduce the stock down to a rich sauce, or add more stock if the sauce is too dry. Cook until the pumpkin has dissolved into the stock to make a thick, stewy sauce. Check for seasoning; and you might want to add more lime juice to brighten it up.

Meanwhile boil the potatoes until soft, drain, and mash. Then add lots of butter, salt and pepper, and beat the living daylights out of it with a wooden spoon until it is fantastically smooth and velvety.

Take the stew off the heat a good 10 minutes before dishing up, which not only avoids greedy-guts like me impatiently taking the roof of their mouth off with the first spoonful, but also lets the flavours settle down and results in the whole thing being more enjoyable. Serve the stew on top of mash in warm bowls, with a scattering of chopped parsley if you’re feeling fancy!

Leftovers would make a brilliant Bonfire Night pie, topped with a puff pastry crust.

So there you have it! If you would like to read Lu's original post in full (which is hilarious & includes some amazing Halloween ideas) then click here.



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