Stewed chicken with string beans was usually a “Monday” dish in our home back in the day. Leftover stewed meats (usually chicken) from Sunday’s huge lunch was used to enhance the flavor of boring string beans… probably the only way our mom would get us to eat beans. She would usually cook down the beans first and add the pieces of left over stewed chicken near the end, to finish the dish off. However, we’ll do things a bit different… we’ll stew the chicken first for that rich flavor and color, then add the trimmed string beans to the pot and allow it to enjoy married life (smile).
I’m not a fan of chicken breast (white meat) as it’s so easy to go dry. But I assure you the pieces of chicken will be juicy, tender and infused with the lovely goodness of ginger, the herbs we used and the overall stewing process.
2 Chicken Breast (about 1 1/2 – 2 lbs)
2 lb string beans (see note below)
3/4 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoon veg oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon grated ginger (see note)
1/4 hot pepper (habanero or scotch bonnet)
1 medium onion
3 sprigs thyme
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon golden brown sugar
juice of 1 lime or lemon (can vinegar as well)
2 leaves shado beni (or 2 tablespoon chopped cilantro)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups water
Notes: Feel free to add additional herbs in seasoning the chicken (Spanish thyme, parsley and/or oregano). I used string beans, but you can also use french beans, bodi (yard beans) or any of your favorite green beans. I grated the ginger into the marinating of the chicken, but if you wish you can use a slice and remove it at the end of cooking if you’re worried about biting into the ginger. Remember when using hot peppers to keep away from the seeds and surrounding white membrane if you’re concerned about the heat.
I got boned chicken breast (on sale), so I had to debone and cut into 1 inch chunks. I then washed the pieces of chicken with the lime juice and rinsed with cool water.Then chop the onion, garlic, tomato, hot pepper, scallions, thyme and shado beni.
Add all the ingredients into the bowl with cubed chicken pieces except the brown sugar, water, string beans and vegetable oil. Give it a good stir and allow the chicken to marinate for at least 15 minutes.
I had already prepped my beans, but this would be a good time to do so while the seasoned chicken marinates. Trim off the ends of each bean, then cut into 1-2 inch pieces length-wise. I then like to cut each piece down the middle as I find it cooks faster and really absorbs the flavors of the stewed chicken. It will take some time and best done using a small pairing knife (better control). Please refer to the video below to see how I trimmed each bean.
Let’s get ready to put this tasty dish together. If this is your first time ‘stewing’ meats as it’s done in Caribbean (almost like caramelizing) you can refer to the video below or follow along.. I’ll try my best to describe this step. Since we’ll be working with melted sugar at a high temperature be sure to use a dry cooking spoon with a long handle. It’s also recommended that you have the seasoned chicken close.
Heat a fairly large/deep pot on a med/high heat and add the oil. Now add the brown sugar and keep stirring. The sugar will start to melt and go a sort of caramel color.. that’s what we want. Allow it to start going frothy and it will get a rich dark color. Keep stirring as you want the entire batch of sugar to work evenly. As it get’s a rich dark color and frothy.. the pot will start to smoke so have a window open or the exhaust fan above your stove on. I’ve had the smoke detector go off a few times. With care, start adding the chicken. It’s ok if the pieces of onion, tomato etc goes into the pot. Sooner or later they will reside there. Give it a good stir to coat the chicken in the lovely brown color.
* Be careful not to let the sugar go black or your dish will have a sort of bitter taste.
Turn down the heat to low, cover the pot and allow to cook for about 6 minutes with the lid on. After six minutes you should have some natural juices at the bottom of the pan. With the lid off, turn up the heat (remember to stir) and burn off that liquid. We’re building a rich flavor base and we enhancing the overall color of the dish.
With all the liquid gone, start adding the trimmed (don’t forget to wash your beans before trimming) beans to the pot and give it a good stir (heat still on high). Pour the water into the same bowl you marinated the chicken in to pick up any remaining marinade, then pour that water (the cup and a half) into the pot. Give that a good stir and bring to a boil.
When it comes to a boil reduce to a simmer, cover the pot and allow to cook for about 15 minutes. I like my beans to still have a slight crunch, so 15 minutes works great for me (stir occasionally). After 15 minutes (your kitchen will have a wonderful scent at this point), remove the lid and if you have liquid at the bottom of the pan (you will), turn up the heat and burn it off. You’re Done!
I love this with plain boiled rice (brown), but it’s just as tasty with roti and it makes a killer sandwich (trust meh). Yes the vibrant green color will be lost, but if you want to brighten it up a bit for presentation, you can add some chopped tomato near the end to just heat through.