Yeah. Jamaican jerk chicken. I’m going to disclose something embarrassing now: my love for jerk chicken comes from a chicken wing place in Portland called Fire on the Mountain, they have DELICIOUS chicken wings, and one of the flavors is Jamaican jerk. It’s my favorite. It’s spicy, complex, sweet and kind of a gross color (greenish black). I wanted jerk chicken yesterday, really bad. But I made my own instead of go eat chicken wings (and fried pickles!!!!) and drink beer because I am a big girl.
This recipe is a total adaptation, like all my recipes. All the recipes for jerk chicken I found wanted me to marinate the chicken for 24 hours, and it was 3 pm already and I wanted to eat it that night. So no dice. Instead, I made a kind of Indian curry inspired Jamaican jerk chicken (chunks of meat braised in a highly spiced, thick sauce). It was fantastic. The keys to this turning out well are to cut the chicken small enough that it has time to tenderize in the sauce, to give it enough time braising to tenderize in the sauce (about an hour) and to not overcook the rice. All told, this recipe took about an hour and a half, 30 minutes to assemble the sauce/chicken and an hour to cook it, including half an hour to cook the rice. So if you start cooking at 6, you can eat at 7:30. It seems like a lot of ingredients, but you’ll probably have almost everything you need already, if you’re reading this blog. I only had to buy allspice, chicken, hot peppers and coconut milk.
Jamaican Jerk Chicken
1 lb chicken, cut into bite size pieces while raw (thighs are perfect for this, just sayin’)
1 large onion or 2 medium, chopped
6-8 cloves of garlic
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped (or 2 tbsp ground)
2 smallish jalapenos, or some combo of spicy peppers, not seeded if you’re cool, seeded if you’re a baby (Habanero or scotch bonnet would be perfect, but neither Safeway nor TJ had any when I made this. What gives?!)
2 tbsp ground allspice
3 sprigs of fresh thyme (A note- if you buy thyme from TJ like I do, they give you like 50 sprigs in that little container. Buy it, take it home, use what you need, then tie some string around the rest in little bundles and hang it from your kitchen doorway. Drying your own leftover herbs- I do it with thyme and rosemary- is awesome, then you can use your own dried herbs in place of fresh in recipes, and it’s exactly the same.)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon oregano
3 tbsp brown sugar
juice of one lime
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups orange or pineapple juice
1 can light coconut milk (1/2 the can for the chicken, 1/2 for the rice)
salt and pepper
Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil on medium high in a large dutch oven, and toss in the chicken and onion when the pot is hot. Let the chicken brown awhile, stirring frequently, probably for 10 minutes. While that’s cooking, put everything but the orange juice and coconut milk in your food processor and pulverize it.
When the chicken gets a little brown and the onions are translucent, dump in the pepper mixture, pour in the orange juice and 1/2 can of coconut milk, turn the heat down, cover the pot and let it boil away for about an hour. Half an hour into that hour, start cooking the rice.
Coconut Rice and Beans
1/2 an onion, chopped
3 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cup jasmine rice
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 can light coconut milk
2 cups water
1/4 cup diced fresh pineapple, if you want, and you’re awesome like me
In a saucepan on medium heat, cook the onions and butter until the onions are soft and translucent, maybe 10 minutes. Pour in the dry rice, and stir it around, letting the fat and onion juice coat every grain (this is what helps rice be fluffy), probably another 5 minutes or so. Put in the coconut milk, water and black beans, stir, and cook it, covered, for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. After 20 minutes, take a look at the rice, and stir it around.
If you see a little liquid, maybe a tablespoon or two, in the pot, but the rice quantity has grown a lot, it’s probably safe to turn off the burner, move the pot to a cool burner, uncover it, and let it finish cooking off the heat. If not, and there’s more than say, 1/4 cup of liquid in the pot, keep cooking it another minute or two and then revisit the liquid question. When you do see only about a tablespoon or two of liquid, do as instructed above. Stir in the diced pineapple before serving with the jerk chicken.