Have you ever tried Jamaican Escovitch Chicken? It is simply delicious. We first came across it, on a recent family trip to the beautiful island of Jamaica. My husband Jim and I tried this popular Jamaican dish at a small restaurant near the hotel – and let me tell you… We are now obsessed with it!
What is Escovitch Chicken?
Similar to the well-known Escovitch Fish, this recipe is the perfect combination of meat, spices, and vegetables. Imagine tasting a crispy fried chicken seasoned with peppers and saffron, dressed with a tasty pickled sauce, and accompanied with onions, carrots and many other veggies.
Vendors all over the island sell their version of the traditional Escovitch Chicken recipe, and today it is the ultimate Jamaican street food, loved by natives and tourists alike.
The Background Story
Escovitch is a typical Caribbean cooking style originally from Europe, specifically from the Mediterranean. In Europe, it is commonly known as ‘Escabeche,’ a word of Persian origin that derives from the term ‘Al-sikbaj’ meaning vinegar stew. It first came to the Americas, during the colonial period by the Spaniards and since then it has evolved with various local modifications.
In international versions, Escovitch dishes are usually poached or fried proteins (chicken, rabbit, pork or fish) marinated in vinegar or citrus juices. However, in Jamaica, the Escovitch chicken is often marinated with white vinegar, carrots, onions and red peppers over-night and then fried. Believe it or not, it is a common breakfast food on the island.
Escovitch Chicken Recipes
Now that you are familiar with the background story and style of cooking, we can move on to the fun part… recipes! Below you will find three easy-to-make delicious recipes featuring Escovitch Chicken.
Escovitch Chicken Wings
I assure you this recipe will be a total hit with adults and children alike and is perfect for parties and get-togethers.
Escovitch Chicken Wings’ Ingredients:
- 2 Kgs chicken wings
- 1 kg onions
- 1kg carrots
- 2 bell peppers
- 5 bay leaves
- 4 garlic cloves
- Salt (to taste)
- Black pepper (to taste)
- Olive oil (to taste)
Escovitch Chicken Wings’ Preparation:
- Degrease the wings; remove the tips that have less meat, and then salt them.
- Peel and cut the onions in thin rings and the carrots into small slices.
- Cut the bell pepper into broad strips.
- In a large pot, and over medium heat, drizzle the olive oil.
- Layout in layers, starting with the chicken wings, followed by vegetables, garlic, and oil vinegar at the top.
- Then continue with the other layers in the same order until you use up all the wings.
- Finally, add vinegar and cover the pot, do not stir at any time, cook over medium heat for about 1 hour.
A few things to remember:
- When the carrot is cooked, it means that the Escovitch is done.
- You may want to add a glass of white wine during cooking for extra flavor,
- You can serve the wings either as a hot or a cold dish.
Jamaican Escovitch French Fried Chicken
Another great recipe that will instantly make your mouth water is our Jamaican French-Fried Chicken. Below is what you will need!
Jamaican French-Fried Chicken’s Ingredients:
- 2 kg of chicken breasts
- 500 grams of ground bread
- ½ cup of olive oil
- 2 tbsp of paprika
- 2 eggs
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 large onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 large carrots
- ½ cup of vinegar
- 2 cups of milk
- Black pepper
Jamaican French-Fried Chicken’s Preparation:
- Cut the chicken breast into strips or tenders.
- Season the chicken with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the carrots, onions, garlic, peppers, bay leaves, paprika, and vinegar. Cook for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Meanwhile, mix the eggs and the milk.
- Dip the tenders into the egg and milk mix and then roll them into the ground pieces of bread.
- Fry the chicken until brown. Depending on the skillet this might take 3-4 minutes.
- Once you fry the tenders and the Escovitch sauce is ready, remove the bay leaves and put the sauce over the chicken.
Spicy Chicken Escovitch
If you are into bold and spicy flavors, you will love this 6-step Spicy Chicken Escovitch recipe.
Spicy Chicken Escovitch’s Ingredients:
- 3 kg of boneless chicken breasts
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 5 tbsp of olive oil
- ½ cup of apple cider vinegar
- 3 cups of chicken broth
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 3 sprigs of fresh oregano
- 2 large carrots
- 7 garlic cloves
- ½ onion
- 2 red peppers
- 3 stalks of celery
- 2 medium jalapeños (or red chili)
- Salt (to taste)
- Pepper (to taste)
Spicy Chicken Escovitch’s Preparation:
- Season the chicken breasts with a pinch of salt, pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika and a drizzle of olive oil. Mix well.
- Place the vinegar and broth in a medium saucepan and add the thyme, oregano and bay leaves; cook over medium-high heat until half a cup evaporates (it might take about 6-8 minutes).
- In a deep pan, pour the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil and heat over high heat. Check the oil is hot and bubbly, an add the chicken. Cook 3-4 minutes per side to seal the flavors.
- Once the chicken is fully cooked, place it in a glass tray or pan. In the same pot where you cooked the chicken, add the onion and the carrot. Let cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add a pinch of salt so that the onion releases its juice. Add the garlic and let it cook for an extra minute, stirring continuously.
- Add peppers, celery and the jalapeños, stir and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Pour the vinegar mixture vigorously over the vegetables and keep stirring. Let cook for 2 more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the vegetables and all the vinegar over all the chicken pieces.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for at least 15-20 minutes at room temperature or you let it chill for 8-10 hours in the refrigerator for a cold and delicious serve. Keep in mind that the longer the dish rests, the better it tastes!
The secret of any Escovitch is its tangy sauce. Thus, I thought to share a quick recipe for you to make at home. It is a simple 3-step recipe!
Escovitch Sauce’s Ingredients:
- 1/2 cups of cane vinegar
- 2 large onions
- 1 carrot
- 10 pimento seeds
- 1 large pepper
- If you cannot find cane vinegar, any other white vinegar will do
Escovitch Sauce’s Preparation:
- Bring the vinegar to a boil and then let it simmer on a medium pot.
- Cut and peel the veggies. Remember to grate the carrot and chop the onions in rings.
- Place all the vegetables on a side dish/bowl and pour the vinegar over them. Cover the bowl for five minutes and serve hot (or cold).
Please note that for a better result, I usually let the sauce rest overnight!
Conclusion- Enjoying Escovitch!
As you can see, countless recipes are containing Escovitch Chicken that you can easily make. Nonetheless, keep in mind that chicken is not the only meat that can be prepared within the Escovitch cooking style. Other everyday recipes include fish like Snapper, Mahi-Mahi, Grouper, or Mackerel as well as other meats such as pork and veal.
Venture into the world of Jamaican cooking and let me know if you make one of the recipes I suggested, or if the kitchen is not really your thing, next time you are visiting the lovely island of Jamaica make sure you don’t miss out in trying out their famous chicken!