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Kwame Onwuachi

Lesson time 25 min

Jamaican recipes are famous for their long overnight marinades. In this lesson, Kwame teaches how to pack a whole lot of flavor in any dish and shows how to make marinades for three dishes: Brown stew chicken, oxtails, and curried goat.

Students give this lesson an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

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– Wow. Marinating meats is so important for a multitude of reasons. One, it kind of breaks down those tightly wound cells in the meat and tenderizes it. And two, it adds flavor, which is why we’re here. You cannot have bland food in the Caribbean at all. You won’t be invited back. So the way marination really started was spices were used to preserve meats, and it was also a way of showing your wealth. Now, I think people did it a little overboard back in the day. Now we do it just to flavor our meat and add levels of nuance and complexity to the dish and season it to the bone. It can be different wherever you’re at in the world, using different spices. If you’re in Asia, there may be a lot of soy and ginger. If you’re in Latin America, there may be a lot of cilantro and red onion and chili flakes and red wine vinegar. But here, we’re gonna do things a little bit differently. Let’s get into it. So we’re gonna start with the chicken. So I’m gonna start with some leg quarters which is my favorite part of the chicken if I’m braising. So I’m gonna grab some onions, some garlic, some ginger, some green onions, got some tomatoes. I have some of that marination that I made the other day. And then I have some browning which is like caramelized sugar. It’s gonna add a nice, rich, dark color to this, as well as some complexity. Then I have Pickapeppa Sauce which is pretty much a Caribbean Worcestershire Sauce. And then I have some natural cane sugar. So I’m gonna start by cutting my onion. I’m just gonna cut the top part off then peel that first membrane down. Then I’m just gonna slice this. There we go. Just add these things to your bowl. You wanna have your bowl right next to you, ’cause as you cut these things, they’re just gonna go right into it. And then for the tomato, just gonna quarter it. This is gonna really cook down. I’m gonna just take this. ♪ Da, ba, da, dee ♪ ♪ Da, ba, da, da ♪ So there’s a couple things that you’ll find normally in most Jamaican dishes. There’s normally some green onion, there’s normally some thyme, there’s normally some actual onion, scotch bonnet, garlic. And these things are the building blocks of Jamaican cuisine, just like onion, celery and a carrot are the building blocks of French cuisine. I’m just gonna cut these up. I don’t want them too small. These things are gonna stew down. So now I’m gonna peel my ginger. Just take out that outer membrane. So I peel it with the spoon, so you’re just getting the skin. You’re not getting any of the flesh on here. And you actually take this and dry it and make ginger tea. Try to always think about ways to utilize all your waste in the kitchen. Super important. Too much food waste going on in this world. I’m just gonna halve this and I’ll save that for something else. Ginger in there. Cloves of garlic. I’m smashing the garlic and it just helps you mince the garlic a lot easier and breaks it down. So as opposed to having to run my hand through it a couple times, just once ’cause I smashed it. Smashing. So add that to our marinade. Boom, boom, boom. Clean as we go. Now I’m just gonna add this scotch bonnet in whole. This is a dish that’s not very spicy, but you want the flavor of the scotch bonnet. So It’s gonna marinate with the chicken and then it’ll stew with it when we cook it the next day. So I’m gonna add some of this marination. Now this is a marinade that pretty much goes in every meat in the Caribbean. In Trinidad, they call it Green Seasoning. In Puerto Rico, they call it Recaito. It’s a flavor booster. So we have a lot of the things that are already in here. So we have green onion, we have thyme, we have ginger, we have garlic, we have white onion and scotch bonnet pepper. So this is just continuing to add layers of flavor to this dish. Now I’m gonna add some all spice berries. I’m just gonna crush it with my knife, just to release some of that flavor more evenly throughout the dish. All spice is very prominent in Jamaican cooking, sometimes called pimentos. It’s not very pleasant if you take a bite out of it, honestly. So if you see these in your dish, you wanna avoid them. So I’m gonna put some in whole and a little bit ground up as well. I’m gonna add some Pickapeppa Sauce to this. Some browning. Yeah, so browning is sugar and oil that’s been deeply caramelized. It adds a rich flavor profile to dishes, as well as enhances the color. Gonna get some thyme. Just break that into here. And the all purpose seasoning, I’m gonna apply right onto the chicken. This is the spice blend we made the other day. Make sure you season both sides. So I’m gonna take a little bit of cane sugar as well and add it to this. Now I’m gonna mix it up. So now I’m gonna marinate this chicken together. We have our marinade done, we have our chicken season, we’re gonna bring the two together. You wanna get a large pot. This way, you can mix it properly, right? Gonna get some gloves. Now I’m just gonna cover this with this marinade. It may look like a lot of vegetables but what we’re gonna do after the marinade is finished is we’re gonna scrape the vegetables off, sear the meat and stew these vegetables down, and that’s gonna build our sauce. I’m gonna add a little bit more of this all purpose seasoning. And some salt. You wanna nestle it down, try to pack the vegetables on top. Get all that stuff off the sides, ’cause all that’s flavor. So now I’m just gonna cover this with plastic wrap. I wanna put the plastic wrap directly on the chicken, and that way all of these aromatics are pressing against the skin of that bird. All right, gonna put this in the fridge. And you can marinate this for up to 48 hours, honestly. You could even marinate it, put it in a bag and freeze it so whenever you want to cook it, It’s easy defrost. Oxtail has a lot of fat on it, so you wanna make sure you’re cleaning it up just a little bit. I like a little bit of fat on it. If you like all the fat, keep it on. It’s totally up to you. I’m gonna keep some of that fat on there but take the majority of it off. You can always render out fat, beef fat, chicken fat, even duck fat, and use that to cook the meat in. With oxtail, I’m gonna just slice some ginger. I’m keeping it in slightly larger pieces because It’s gonna braise for a long time. Some garlic. Just gonna mince this real quick. Gonna grab my jerk paste that I made the other day. Just gonna chop these up. Rough chop ’cause these are gonna break down, cook in this sauce. It’s gonna create this beautiful velvety sauce. Can’t wait for you to see it. My Grandma Gloria, who’s from Saint Catherine, she used to make oxtails. So that’s one of my earliest memories. But I can’t remember the first time I had it, I just remember it always being around. So I added a little bit of jerk paste in there. Now the jerk paste, funny enough, it has a lot of the flavors that an oxtail stew already has in it. So It’s good to marinate your meat in a little bit of it, not too much. You don’t want jerk oxtails. But that flavor will bump up this dish and create a beautiful velvety stew. So I’m gonna add some of this marination as well. Add some whole all spice berries to this. Some salt. A little bit of this cane sugar. You know, all these dishes, everybody has their own recipe for it in the Caribbean. Everybody has their version of brown stew, everyone has their version of oxtails. Some people like it sweeter, some people like it spicier. So feel free to edit it to what you want. And when you’re building the sauce, you can really finish it to make it your own. Add a scotch bonnet. I’m not gonna cut it in half though. Once again, I want the flavor from this. Some thyme. Couple bay leaves. And that’s it. Gonna massage this into the meat. Add a little bit of browning to this. And this all purpose seasoning once again. You wanna get all of this all on this oxtail, all that flavor. I’m gonna transfer this to another bowl. I’m transferring it to a smaller bowl ’cause I always like to consolidate my food. You don’t want your fridge packed unnecessarily. So I use a larger bowl to mix it properly and then I can put it into a bowl that fits it beautifully. I’m gonna keep this in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours. Want all of that flavor to hit the meat. All right. – Wow! I’m gonna grab some more aromatics, very similar to what we’ve already done. Some green onion, some onion, some garlic, some fresh ginger. Grab scotch bonnet, some thyme, and a curry powder that I previously made. So I’m gonna start by chopping up these aromatics. So we have these green onions. Gonna go straight in that bowl. The thyme, straight in. Scotch bonnet, I’m not gonna cut in half, I’m gonna leave whole. But we’ll see what we do later. Maybe I’ll bust it open. I’m gonna peel this onion. Just slice that. All right, I’m gonna add that right into the bowl just like that. All these aromatics, not only do they flavor the meat, they tenderize it as well. So I have this big knob of ginger. I only need a little bit, so I’m gonna break off just one of these. Put this back. You always wanna make sure you’re washing your ginger. It’s probably full of dirt and mud, so just make sure you wash it properly. I’m gonna peel this with a spoon so I can get into the grooves. Just gonna cut this. Just slice this. Ginger, It’s a vegetable you have to use with a little bit of grace. Too much can completely blow out your dish, too little, you won’t taste anything, so it has to be just the right amount. And I’m gonna add some garlic to this as well. So I smash this garlic to mince it easier, but also it comes right out the peel when you smash it like that. So It’s kinda like a double entendre of uses. I’m gonna add that right into there. I’m gonna add some of the curry powder that we made in another lesson. Some more. And add some of this all purpose season. Add some salt. And now you see why It’s so worthwhile to put effort into your pantry. Saves you so much time. Now I’m gonna add some of this marination. So I actually mix this up. These are the marinades that I use in my restaurant and at home. And then add my goat and massage it into it. I’m gonna pre-season the goat with a little bit of the curry powder as well and a little bit of the salt. I’m gonna do some more of the seasoning. This meat you can buy from your butcher. You can get the meat cut in with the bone, you can get it de-boned. I like the bone ’cause it has more flavor. All right, so I’m just gonna cover this with plastic wrap, pop it in the fridge and I’ll see this in 24 hours. So now we got the three meats marinating. They’re tenderizing, they’re developing flavor, and I’ll see you when It’s time to cook.

About the Instructor

Kwame Onwuachi started peeling shrimp and stirring roux at 5 years old in his mother’s catering kitchen in the Bronx. The James Beard Award-winning chef has received many accolades since then, including FOOD & WINE’S Best New Chef, Esquire Magazine’s 2019 Chef of the Year, 30 Under 30 honoree by both Forbes and Zagat, and has appeared on Bravo’s Top Chef as both a contestant and judge. In his class, Onwuachi embraces the richness of Afro-Caribbean culture and cuisine, and teaches students how to cook his favorite Jamaican recipes.

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