Inspired by Jamaican brown stew, aka brown stew chicken, a classic dish popular throughout the Caribbean, this slightly sweet, savory, and spicy stew is a great way to showcase root vegetables. The original dish is “brown” from cooking chicken in fat and then simmering it in a mixture of brown sugar, aromatics, and spices, which yields a pecan-colored, rich, and delicious broth. Once, when vacationing with my parents in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, we stopped by a Caribbean restaurant and ordered a vegetarian brown stew—a rich gravy with lots of sautéed onions and bell peppers that tasted great with rice and peas (and plantains). I wanted to ask the chef about her recipe, but she had left for the day. In my re-creation of that memorable dish, I caramelize onions and add a smattering of coconut palm sugar and a smidgen of molasses, but a lot of the sweetness in this stew comes from roasting diced root vegetables, which deepens their flavor. I also add—and you’re gonna love this—Guinness stout, which gives the stew a robust, chocolaty flavor. I add kidney beans for protein, but you should have this with Farro and Kidney Beans with Burnt Scallions or your own take on rice and peas, because why not.
1 cup dried kidney beans, soaked in water plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt overnight
2 bay leaves
1 large white onion: half left intact, half diced
5 garlic cloves: 3 cut in half, 2 minced
1 dried red chile
3 (2-inch) pieces fresh ginger
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
2 cups ½-inch diced peeled parsnips
2 cups ½-inch diced peeled turnip
2 cups ½-inch diced peeled russet potato
2 cups peeled and ½-inch diced carrots
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons Bragg Liquid Aminos
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup Guinness stout
3 cups vegetable stock
1 habanero chile, stem intact
Freshly ground white pepper
½ cup minced fresh cilantro
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Drain the beans and put them in a medium saucepan. Add the bay leaves, the intact onion half, garlic halves, chile, and ginger, and add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Skim off any foam, decrease the heat to medium-low, and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are starting to turn tender, about 40 minutes, adding more water as needed to keep the beans covered. When the beans are just tender, add 1 teaspoon of the salt and cook for 10 minutes more. Drain the beans. Remove and discard the bay leaves, onion, garlic, chile, and ginger.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the parsnips, turnip, potato, carrots, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, and ½ teaspoon of the salt and toss to coat. Spread the vegetables in one even layer on the prepared baking sheets and roast until the vegetables are tender and caramelized on the edges, stirring every 10 minutes for even browning, 30 to 40 minutes.
While the beans are cooking and the vegetables are roasting, in a large pot, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the diced onion and cook over medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the allspice, smoked paprika, cayenne, minced garlic, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic smells fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the liquid aminos and tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until the tomato paste starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes.
Once the beans and the roasted vegetables are ready, add them to the pot with the onion and spices. Stir in the Guinness stout and stock. Add the habanero and simmer, partially covered, for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, removing the habanero after 10 minutes of simmering.
Taste and season with salt and white pepper. Garnish with the cilantro and serve.