Monday, August 30, 2010

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Let's try some Caribbean cooking for a change - Jerk Chicken served with Jamaican Rice.

Jerk is the Jamaican style of barbecued meat. Jerk seasoning is a hot paste made of quite a few different ingredients. This is how I made my own. This makes enough to marinate 2 whole chickens.

Here are the fresh ingredients.

  • Juice of half an orange
  • juice of a lime
  • 1 onion
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 2-4 Scotch Bonnet chilies (Habaneros in my case)
  • 1 tbsp of crushed fresh ginger
  • 3 spring onions (scallions) 

And the dry ones.

  • 1 tbsp allspice (Jamaica Pepper, Pimenta)
  • 1 tbsp thyme  (rather use fresh thyme if available)
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 0,5 tbsp salt
  • 0,5 tbsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar.

And my secret ingredient. Red Savina chilies from my own garden. I've been growing these from seeds. These are insanely hot!

Chop up roughly all the ingredients and put them all in the blender. Add a splash of olive oil, soy sauce and vinegar. Blend until it turns in to a smooth and thick paste.  If it seems too dry, add a bit orange juice or olive oil.

I chopped the chicken in to quarters. Put the chicken pieces in a zip lock bag or similar plastic bag and pour in about half of the jerk seasoning you just made. Save some of the Jerk as a extremely hot side sauce for serving.

Marinate the chicken overnight in the fridge or even longer (24 to 48hrs for more intense flavour).

Set up the grill for indirect cooking, but first give the chicken a bit colour by grilling it a minute or two on each side. I must honestly say, I have never smelled so good aromas once the chicken hit the grill!

As I don't have pimento wood for smoking, I wrapped some pimento/allspice berries in a tinfoil pouch for a bit of aromatic smoke. You could do fine without it, but if you have the berries, why not.

Move the chicken away from the charcoal to the cold side of the grill, close the lid of the Weber kettle and gently cook the chicken for about an hour in indirect heat. Those allspice berries smoking gave a divine aroma.

Meanwhile I made the Jamaican Rice.

Ingredients for the Jamaican Rice are:
  • 2 cups of rice
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 can of red beans
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 3 spring onions (scallions)
  • 1 hot chili pepper (don't chop it)
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil or a good nob of butter

Drain the liquid out of the beans and keep it aside, for a while.  For 2 cups of rice you need 4 cups of liquid. Use any cup or mug you want, for the measurements.  Use the liquid of the beans, 1 can of coconut milk and for the rest of liquid, use plain water, to get the 4 cups of liquid in total.

Put all ingredients in a pot, bring to boil, lower the heat and cook in mild heat for about 25-30 minutes or until rice is cooked.  Remove the chili pepper and the spring onions before serving.

Serve some Jerk seasoning on the side for more heat. I didn't need much...

Oh man this tasted good, absolutely fantastic flavour.  It's rather hot food, but hey, if it ain't hot, it ain't jerk!


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