Here's what I know: Cooking keeps me sane (okay, no need to dissect the actual definition of sane). Let's just say that life with a certain teenager has challenged me to my very core and were it not for the structure, adventure and creative outlet of this project, I don't quite know where I'd be. Suffice it to say that the things I'm dealing with now were not in ANY of the baby books I ever read. But the show must go on, and so shall I.
To find just the right recipe for Jamaican Jerked Chicken, I turned to one of my treasured cookbooks, the Black Family Dinner Quilt Cookbook, given to me by a friend years ago. It's a beautiful cookbook whose title honors the African American tradition of quilting and pays homage to Dorothy Height, president of the National Council of Negro women for forty years, as well as an activist and educator. The book is filled with delicious recipes whose roots are African, Southern, Caribbean our family has enjoyed for years.
Jamaica's cuisine has been influenced by the Spanish, British, African, Indian and Chinese cultures and is known for its abundant seafood and tropical fruit. Some of Jamaica's signature dishes include curry goat (one of my favorites), fried
dumplings, meat patties, ackee, plantains, jerk, rice and...red beans & rice as celebrated by Spearhead in the video below.
|Ackee - Jamaica's National Fruit|
|Habanero Peppers and Thyme flavor the Jerk Marinade|
|Scallions, coconut milk and Thyme make for tasty red beans and rice|
Jamaican Jerked Chicken (Adapted from The Black Family Dinner Quilt Cookbook)
(Serves 12 - I cut the recipe in half)
- 1 1/2 cups soy sauce
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 cup thinly sliced fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh garlic
- 4 green onions, trimmed and roughly cut
- 2 Habanero peppers, seeded
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2-3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 canola oil
- 1/4 cup ground allspice
- 2 Tbsp. molasses
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 tsp. freshly chopped thyme
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
- 16-24 chicken thighs with skin removed (I used boneless/skinless thighs)
1. Place soy sauce, lime juice, ginger, garlic, onions and peppers in food processor bowl. Puree until smooth.
2. Transfer to mixing bowl. Stir in vinegar, brown sugar, oil, allspice, molasses, cinnamon, thyme, pepper, nutmeg and cloves and let stand 30 minutes.
3. Place chicken a large heavy resealable plastic bag. Pour marinade over chicken. Seal bag. Refrigerate two days. Turn bag over occasionally.
4. Remove chicken from marinade. Grill or broil. Turn frequently to avoid charring. Serve with rice and peas.
Jamaican Red Bean and Rice
- 1 1/2 cups dried red kidney beans soaked overnight
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 3 green onions, chopped (a few more reserved for garnish)
- 1 habanero pepper, chopped
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 1 1/2 cups rice
- Salt and pepper
- Place beans and garlic in a medium pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, then cover and lower to a simmer and cook for a bout 1- 1 1/2 hours and cook until tender.
- Once beans are tender, add in the coconut milk, green onions, habanero pepper and thyme, bring to a boil and add in the rice.
- Cook until liquid is absorbed. Garnish with green onions.
Final Assessment: Delicious! The combination of sweet, spicy and sour in the marinade, made the chicken absolutely delicious and wonderful fragrant. And really, how could red beans and rice be anything but anything but kick ass