Hot as heck in the best possible way, this easy-to-prepare stew is rounded out with lots of flavor from browned chicken and the underappreciated chayote gourd.
What to buy: Chayote is a gourd common to Caribbean cuisine, and it goes by many aliases: chocho, mirliton, christophene, vegetable pear. Females have smooth skin, while males have prickly skin; either will work in this recipe, though the female fruit is easier to prepare. Look for chayotes that are firm and free from blemishes.
Game plan: We made this stew very spicy by using an habanero pepper. If you want to tame it down a bit, you can use less habanero or substitute the milder jalapeño.
Like all stews, this improves in flavor as it sits, so it’s a great dish to make ahead.
2 pounds chicken legs and thighs, washed and patted dry
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium habanero pepper, stemmed and finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 medium russet potato, large dice
1 medium sweet potato, large dice
1 medium chayote, pit removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cups water
2 teaspoons white vinegar
Place salt, curry powder, allspice, and black pepper in a small bowl and mix until evenly combined. Rub 1/2 of the mixture all over the chicken and set aside.
Heat oil in a 3-quart Dutch oven or a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add remaining spice mixture, onion, garlic, and habanero pepper and cook until vegetables are just beginning to soften and curry is dark golden brown in color and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add chicken pieces and cook until just browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per side.
Add all remaining ingredients except vinegar and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until vegetables just give way when pierced with a knife and chicken is fully cooked and tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in vinegar and serve.