Brown Stew Chicken with Yard Style Gravy

I’ve been poorly with a bad head cold this week (not the flu, if you are a male reader) and I haven’t been able to taste anything at all. This has understandably taken the edge off any enthusiasm I had for cooking  but last night, despite my infirmity, I had guests so I had to cook. I wouldn’t have minded just dumping a takeaway menu in front of them and asking them to make their own arrangements while I went to bed in all truth, but people generally expect free grub and company out of a dinner invite so I manned up with a curry. Another Levi Roots recipe, this time from his Reggae Reggae cookbook (one of the few savoury recipes within not requiring a dose of his Reggae Reggae sauce, which I have never tried, but feel slightly reluctant to – surely there must have been Jamaican cooking before Reggae Reggae Sauce?) Anyway, I fear the Lemsip has driven me off the point. I wanted an easy curry. This is an easy curry. Rated as ‘Wow, delicious!’ and ‘Really, really very good’ by my fellow diners, I reckon it tasted just fine . I just cannot vouch for it personally, you understand. Serves 4-6


  • 16 pieces of chicken thigh, drumstick or breast, skin removed.
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp all purpose seasoning
  • vegetable oil
  • 3 spring onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 scotch bonnet chilli, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • knob of butter

Put the chicken in a non metallic dish, sprinkle over the lemon, salt and pepper and the all purpose seasoning. Use your hands to rub everything into the chicken flesh and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

In a large, deep flameproof casserole dish, add about half a centimetre depth of your vegetable oil and heat over a medium flame until its very hot, and then add your chicken in batches of four or five pieces at a time. Cook until browned on each side and leave on a plate while you finish the rest of the batches. When the chicken is all done, pour out most of your oil and leave just a small bit coating the pan. Retuen the chicken to the pot, along with any left over juices or seasoning mixture and the rest of the ingredients. Stir them all together until well combined and then add 450 ml water. Cover, and bring to simmering point. When simmering, remove the lid and cook for 15-20 minutes. Serve with rice.


‘Homecoming Lamb’

I am no lover of the black stuff, so this was an interesting challenge to me. I brought the accompanying book to Caribbean Food Made Easy, and it was one of the first recipes in. When I saw Levi make it on his show, I saw how delicious it looked, and so decided to give it a shot myself. I was hoping for not Guinnessy, but treacly, warming, spicy, slightly bitter and unctuous. I got it, kind of, but I had to make a couple of tweaks because the recipe as was did not really offer me that. Levi says serve with Rice & Peas. Fair enough, I might in future but I fancied not-particularly-caribbean-mashed potato tonight which suited it amazingly well.  It was delicious. I’d be very happy if someone cooked this when I came home. Serves 2.


  • 4 lamb steaks, around 500g in total
  • 45 ml groundnut oil
  • 125ml Jamaican stout, or Guinness mixed with 1&1/2 tbsp of brown sugar
  • 75ml just boiled water
  • mint sprigs, to garnish

For the spice paste:

  • the leaves stripped from 3 good sprigs of thyme
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped mint
  • 2 spring onions, green part only, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli (1/2 scotch bonnet is suggested, but I’m too scared- if you do go down the scotch bonnet route, remove all the seeds and chop wearing gloves)
  • 6 allspice berries
  • juice of 2 limes (I had to use lemons, in all sincerity, due to my imagining I had limes when in fact I used them with thai fishcakes). Lemons were ok. Obviously limes would have been better.
  • salt and pepper, a fair amount
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Firstly, the book says to simply put all the spice paste ingredients into a pestle and mortar and pound into a paste. I’m normally quite willing to go along with the technique  in a recipe but this advice is just making work for yourself. Firstly, if you have a blender, put everything in there and whizz until you have a smoothish paste. If you do have to use a pestle and mortar, then what you should do is add all the dry ingredients first and grind it as finely as possible and then add your liquids and grind further until you have your paste. It’s just better that way. When you do have your paste, rub it into your lamb steaks and leave in a cool place for at least an hour. Overnight in the fridge is best.

When you’re ready to cook, heat the oil in a heavy based pan that comes with a lid. When the oil is hot, add the lamb steaks, put the lid on and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Swirl out the bowl with the  water and at the end of the 5 minutes, add the watered down marinade. Put the lid back on and cook for a further 5 minutes. Then add your stout, to which you have added your sugar and cook for a further 8 minutes on a medium high heat. Now, supposedly the sauce is ready, but it was still very thin for me at this stage. So what I did was remove steaks to warmed plates, and turned the heat right up on the sauce for around three-four minutes whilst I mashed the spuds and drained the peas to give the sauce an opportunity to reduce down. Serve the sauce over the lamb and scoff.