Calypso Chicken

The most incredible Calypso Chicken is creamy and punchy with tropical flavour. Crisply spiced chicken thighs are braised in a delicious rum and coconut sauce, flavoured with cumin and garlic and simmered with sliced onions and green peppers. Serve with fried plantain for food heaven.

Calypso Chicken on a plate with fried plantains and salad on a wooden board

I discovered this recipe for Calypso Chicken buried within my Dad’s old Taste Magazines from the 1980s. These magazines hold such fascination for me. I pick them up every so often when I need a little bit of retro dinner inspiration.

Taste Magazines

I have been making a version of this Calypso Chicken for many years now, I originally found it nestled in a piece about Floella Benjamin’s Caribbean food heritage and it leapt out at me as soon as I read it. I have adapted it slightly from its original incarnation including upping the ante on some of the ingredients for maximum impact (ahem, the rum) but it is still an absolutely classic recipe which I urge you to make.

Calypso Chicken on a plate with fried plantains and salad on a wooden board

Why is Calypso Chicken so brilliant?

  • Using chicken thighs instead of breast means the meat is more juicy and flavourful.
  • Even though the sauce is so creamy it is also naturally dairy-free as it’s made from a blend of rum, really good chicken stock and creamed coconut.
  • Did I mention rum?? You will always want to add rum to every chicken braise from now on. It is an insanely delicious basis for a sauce.
  • Creamed Coconut is an ingredient which is more than often replaced in modern recipes with coconut cream (not the same thing) or coconut milk. Use creamed coconut here for a deliciously intense coconut flavour.
  • You need a few dashes of Angostura bitters. It’s spiced fruity flavour is such a revelation if you take it out of the comfort of the cocktail cabinet. I usually add it to my fruit pie fillings but it’s also a perfect match in this rum coconut sauce.

ingredients for Calypso Chicken on a wooden board

How do you make Calypso Chicken?

  1. Rub the chicken thighs with a spice blend of cumin, garlic, chilli and seasoning.chicken in a glass bowl rubbed with spices on a wooden board with bowls of rum and coconut next to it
  2. Sear the chicken skin side down in a wide bottomed pan until the skin is crispy.
  3. Remove the chicken and add sliced onions and green peppers into the pan.Sliced green peppers and onions in a cast iron skillet
  4. Heat the chicken stock then pour in the rum, coconut cream, angostura bitters and saffron and whisk until smooth.
  5. Pour the sauce in with the softened onions and peppers.
  6. Bring to a boil then turn down to a gentle bubble. Add the chicken back in, flesh side down and simmer for 40 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the chicken has fully cooked.Chicken in a cast iron skillet simmering in a calypso sauce
  7. Sprinkle over the green chillies and parsley to serve.

Rum and Coconut Chicken | Stroud Green Larder

Pro Tips

  • Use free-range chicken if you can for the best flavour and provenance. If you eat meat you want to know where it’s coming from.
  • Chicken thighs vary in size so I recommend using 1-2 per person.
  • Pat the chicken dry with kitchen towel before adding the spice mix. It will mean really crisp chicken skin and help the spices stick better to the chicken.
  • Make sure the olive oil is hot before adding the chicken so the meat doesn’t stick to the pan.
  • Use creamed coconut, not coconut cream or coconut milk. We want to add flavour not liquid. The creamed coconut is just the coconut solids.
  • And if you can, use homemade chicken stock or good shop bought. Preferably not a stock cube.
  • I recommend serving with crisply fried plantain and fresh green chillies sprinkled on top which sparks it off deliciously.

Rum and Coconut Chicken | Stroud Green Larder

Recommended Equipment

A really good cast iron skillet is ideal for meals like these. It cooks everything at an even temperature. I use it for most of my weeknight dinners.

This Calypso Chicken is perfect if you need to spice up your usual dinner routine. It’s a lovely meal for 2 but you can easily serve it to the whole family if you leave out the fresh chillies at the end. The alcohol in the rum burns off during the braise so it’s perfectly safe to serve to your littles.

More easy Chicken Dinners you might like:

The Best Gluten-Free Chicken Schnitzel
Lemon Honey and Sesame Chicken
Cashew Chicken Satay
Sticky Smoky Bourbon Chicken
Orange Ginger and Sesame Chicken

If you make Calypso Chicken then please leave a comment below and/or give the recipe a rating. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own dinner creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

Calypso Chicken

The most incredible Calypso Chicken is creamy and punchy with tropical flavour. Crisply spiced chicken thighs are braised in a delicious rum and coconut sauce, flavoured with cumin and garlic and simmered with sliced onions and green peppers. Serve with fried plantain for food heaven.
Prep Time8 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Caribbean
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 983kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken thighs boned
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1 green pepper de-seeded and sliced
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • 50 g creamed coconut
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • good dash of angostura bitters
  • pinch of saffron
  • 1 green chilli sliced
  • Handful of fresh parsley

Instructions

  • Mix the cumin, garlic powder, chilli powder and salt and pepper together then rub generously over the chicken thighs.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large casserole dish on the hob and as soon as it’s hot add the chicken, skin side down.
  • Fry the chicken for 10-12 minutes until the skin is crisp and golden. Then with a pair of tongs remove the chicken, set aside and add the onion and green pepper to the casserole dish.
  • Heat the stock in a small saucepan until boiling, then remove from the heat and add the creamed coconut, rum, angostura bitters and saffron until they are well mixed together.
  • Pour in the stock mixture as soon as the onion and green pepper has softened and are staring to colour, stirring in well.
  • Bring up to a gentle boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Add the chicken on top of the stock, flesh side down and simmer for 40 minutes until the sauce has reduced to thick and creamy.
  • Sprinkle with the green chilli and parsley.

Notes

Adapted from Taste magazine’s ‘Calypso Chicken’, March 1987
  • Use free-range chicken if you can for the best flavour and provenance. If you eat meat you want to know where it’s coming from.
  • The recipe states to use 2 boneless chicken thighs per person. However it totally depends on your size of chicken thighs. The ones we buy really vary in size. You are looking for 2 small to medium chicken thighs per person.
  • Pat the chicken dry with kitchen towel before adding the spice mix. It will mean really crisp chicken skin and help the spices stick better to the chicken.
  • Make sure the olive oil is hot before adding the chicken so the meat doesn’t stick to the pan.
  • Use creamed coconut, not coconut cream or coconut milk. We want to add flavour not liquid. The creamed coconut is just the coconut solids.
  • And if you can, use homemade chicken stock or good shop bought. Preferably not a stock cube.
  • I recommend serving with crisply fried plantain and fresh green chillies sprinkled on top which sparks it off deliciously.
  • If you want to serve to more than 2 then you can double the recipe. If you are serving for a family then you can leave out the fresh green chillies at the end. The alcohol in the rum burns off in the braise so don’t worry about serving to little ones.

Nutrition

Calories: 983kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 72g | Saturated Fat: 28g | Cholesterol: 229mg | Sodium: 1212mg | Potassium: 1084mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 545IU | Vitamin C: 55mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 4mg

This recipe was originally published in July 2014 but was republished in February 2020 to clarify the recipe method with new photos and more detailed instructions.