Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rick's Jerk Chicken

The term 'Jerk' comes from the Spanish 'Charqui' (char-key), which is meat cooked over a slow wood fire. These days, 'Jerk' doesn’t refer to the cooking method, but rather, the fiery spice mix rubbed on meat before it’s grilled. Jerk seasoning, if you're unfamiliar with it, is based on two main ingredients: Scotch Bonnet chili peppers (or habaneros) and allspice. My friend Rick created this delicious Jerk Chicken recipe over the weekend. Fiery, fragrant and full of flavour, Rick marinated the breasts overnight to maximize the zesty zing. Be sure to have some cucumber water or a cold beer nearby, to help you cool off!

Rick's Jerk Chicken
Serves 6

1/2 cup malt or white vinegar 
2 tbsp dark rum
2 Scotch bonnet peppers, with seeds, chopped*
1 red onion, chopped
4 green onion tops, chopped
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 tsp ground allspice
4 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tsp ground nutmeg
4 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp molasses
6 chicken breasts, bone-in or out
1/2 cup lime juice
Salt and pepper

*Note: Scotch Bonnet peppers are very hot and can cause extreme pain if they come in contact with your eyes. Wear protective gloves while handling the chilies and the jerk paste!

Put vinegar, rum, hot peppers, onion, green onion tops, thyme, olive oil, salt, pepper, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and molasses into a blender. Pulse until mostly smooth. Place chicken in a large freezer bag, or in a large roasting pan or baking dish. Pour lime juice over the chicken and coat well. Add the jerk paste to the chicken pieces and coat well. Seal the bag or cover the chicken in the pan with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

When you are ready to cook the chicken, remove chicken from the marinade bag or pan. Put the remaining marinade into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside to use as a basting sauce for the chicken. 

Preheat BBQ grill to medium high. Sprinkle chicken halves with salt and pepper, and place on the grill, skin side down. Cook, turning the chickens occasionally and basting with marinade, until the chicken breasts are cooked through. The chicken is done when the juices run clear — about 165-170°F for the breast and 180-185°F for the thigh. Transfer chicken to platter. Tent loosely with foil to keep warm and let stand 15 minutes. Garnish with some sliced lemons and green onions.

Cucumber Water
Makes 1 pitcher

1 jug of cold water
2-3 slices fresh lemon
2-3 slices fresh cucumber

Place all the ingredients in a pitcher and chill for an hour before serving. Cucumber water is great for hot spicy foods likes Jerk Chicken or Beef Vindaloo!