Chicken became the meat of choice for the English in their curry dishes, although the East Indians, who brought the style with them, used goat. Today, curry os an essential flavor and preparation style in Jamaican cooking. Commercial curry powder varies greatly in quality and flavor. It loses its punch if allowed to sit in the cupboard too long. For purists, making the powder from fresh spices is the best. Serve this with white rice and chutney. This dish is even better the next day. Hopefully there will be leftovers.
- 2 3-pound chickens
- 2 limes, juice and grated rind
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons butter (optional)
- 3 small onions, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons curry powder
- 3 tomatoes, chopped, or 1/4 cup tomato sauce
- 1 Scotch bonnet pepper (any color), plus 2 to 4 slices (any color)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups water
- Rinse the chickens with water and pat them dry with paper towels. Cut the chickens into serving pieces and place in a large bowl, reserving the backs, necks, and wing tips for stock or another use. Juice the limes and add the juice to the chicken along with the grated lime rind, coating the chicken with the juice.
- In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter, if using, over high heat until very hot. Pat the chicken dry again and carefully add half of the pieces to the skillet. Fry on one side for 3 to 4 minutes, shaking and tilting the skillet a little to distribute the fat. Turn the chicken over and fry for 3 minutes more, or until golden brown. Remove the chicken to a large platter and set aside.
- Pour out the old fat, wipe the skillet, and add the remaining 1/4 cup oil and 1 tablespoon butter, if using. Repeat the frying procedure with the remaining chicken pieces and then set aside.
- Discard all but 2 tablespoons of oil, reduce the heat to medium, and add the onions and garlic to the skillet. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute (be careful not to burn the garlic). Add the curry powder and fry for 1 minute, scraping the bottom.
- Add the tomatoes, whole Scotch bonnet pepper and slices, salt, and black pepper. Stir thoroughly while scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the water and mix until well blended. Return the chicken to the pan. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 45 minutes, or until the chicken is tender.
Variation: Add 1/2 cup of shredded coconut just before serving.