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Caribbean Jerk Chicken – A Perfect Summer Meal!

Jul 5, 2013 | 0 comments

Given I’m currently in the Caribbean, I thought it most appropriate to write up the meal I cooked before our trip — Caribbean jerk chicken with banana curry ketchup and black bean and rice salad. It’s one of my favorite meals, and goes back a couple of decades when my mom and I discovered how much we love Caribbean food. Not to mention how much we love the islands, the attitude, the beer, the water, the diving, the sailing….you get the idea.

The Friday before we left on our trip to Anguilla for a 4th of July wedding, I made this spicy, flavorful dish to get us in the Caribbean spirit. It most definitely worked, and also more than satisfied our love of spicy food! I’m including all three recipes here…the jerk chicken itself, the curry ketchup (which has no actual ketchup in it and in no way resembles Heinz), and the black bean and rice salad. You could add a green salad, corn on the cob, or some other vegetable if you feel you need a bit more on the plate.

Jerk chicken originates from Jamaica, and is a wet or dry rub usually used on chicken or pork (although you’ll see plenty of fish, shrimp and other proteins marinated with jerk seasoning as well). There are tons of variations on the recipe, but the basics always include scotch bonnet peppers and allspice. It’s common to use bone-in chicken pieces for this recipe, but I made it most recently with boneless breasts, pounded thin for quick cooking. Given the heat of the spices, having something slightly sweet on the side is a great call.  You can make a simple salsa with mango, red onion, papaya and a bit of lime juice. Or try the curry ketchup below.

Jerk chicken

1/2 yellow onion
2 scallions
1 clove garlic
4 scotch bonnet or habanero chiles
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp cider vinegar
2 tsp  dried thyme
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 Tbsp salt
2 boneless skinless breasts, pounded to 1/2″ thick

Roughly chop the onion, scallions, garlic and chiles, and place in a blender or food processor. Add all remaining ingredients except the chicken and process to make a smooth paste. Spread over both sides of the chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour, up to four hours. Cook the chicken on the grill over direct heat for 3-4 minutes per side until desired doneness, then remove and serve.

Banana Curry Ketchup

1 Tbsp each olive oil and butter
1 large or 4 small ripe plantains, sliced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 can guava nectar
2 tsp white vinegar
1 Tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp curry powder
salt & pepper

In a small sauce pan, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and sauté until the onion is softened. Add the plantains and 3/4 of the can of guava nectar, and mix well.  Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium low and cook 20-25 minutes until the plantains break down and soften. Add more guava nectar if the mixture begins to dry. Add remaining ingredients and cook an additional 5 minutes to blend the ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning (curry powder, salt, pepper, lime) as needed.

Black Bean & Rice Salad

3/4 cup rice
1 1/2 cup water
1 can black beans, drained
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp cumin
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
salt & pepper to taste
a few dashes of cayenne pepper  (if desired)

Cook the rice in the water as the package instructs. When done, fluff with a fork, remove to a large bowl and allow to cool. Mix in all remaining ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning (vinegar, salt and pepper) as needed. Serve at room temperature.

You’ll definitely want to be playing some reggae music as you serve this meal. Enjoy!

Bon appetit!



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