Sunday, July 10, 2016

Jamaican-Style Jerk Chicken and Citrus Mashed Plantains

Summertime is when my cast-iron Dutch Oven is lovingly tucked away into my kitchen cupboard, until the summer temps start to drop. That's when our Weber grill has it's winter cover removed, is given a gentle wash up and is made ready to prepare grilled recipes.  Heaven!

We own a gas grill, and it has its own merits. It's perfect for when you want to grill a quick burger or chicken kebabs. However, when it comes to flavor-- to us, nothing beats the flavor of charcoal and/or wood chips.

Wait.  I take that back--just a little. The very best barbecue, in our opinion, is with a fire pit and real wood. But, that's for the reaaaaaaaaaaally serious pit-masters. So, we have been working on learning ways to work with charcoal and wood chips to make our faves--like brisket, and baby back ribs, to name a few.

I've never had Jerk Chicken, and I have been missing out!  Jerk Spice originates from Jamaica. Meat is marinaded with a blend of spices-- always including allspice, and habanero or Scotch bonnet peppers.  I like a leeeetle bit of spice and heat to my food, but I'm pretty wimpy when it comes to turning up the scoville range of peppers. So, with this recipe, I used jalapeƱo peppers.  There are plenty of other goodies that I tossed into the blender-- cinnamon, cumin, soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, ginger.... maybe not exactly a 100% authentic version you'd find on Jamaica-- but it is absolutely delicious! 

My Vitamix whirred all the ingredients into a thick, brownish marinade.  I bought three organic chickens and asked my butcher to quarter them-- which he gladly did.  After placing the chicken into a large gallon-sized zip-loc bag, I poured the marinade over it and gently mixed it all up-- then placed it in the refrigerator overnight.  I let the chicken come to room temperature (about 30 minutes) before starting to grill.

The next day, Craig lit some charcoals and set up the grill for "indirect heat".  If you're not familiar with that phrase, it means that he heated up coals to one side of the grill.  That way, once he got a nice sear on the chicken, he could move it "off heat" to cook very slowly. Oh, yum!

Quartering the chicken is a good strategy for me-- I'm a chicken breast kinda gal, while my men are more dark meat lovers. Win!

Craig has set the chicken, skin side down, on top of the coals.The chicken should be flipped over halfway through browning them on both sides--10-15 minutes.

Warning! Watch the chicken closely, because there is brown sugar in the marinade-- so it can burn quickly. Craig caught it on time, and flipped the chicken over. 

Here, Craig is starting  to transfer the chicken off the coals, and to "indirect heat".  He put the lid on the Weber and let the chicken cook to 165F (about 15-20 minutes more).

 I've already scoped out my piece of chicken!

The aroma of cinnamon, ginger and ... well, barbecue, is intoxicating!

As side dishes,I made a Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean salad and mashed plantains, with some lime zest.

TASTING NOTES:  My son, and his friend, joined us for dinner.  All of us were so happy with the flavor of this chicken!  Jerk spice, where have you been all of my life??!!  Brian's friend was saying that he can't cook chicken, without it turning out dry.  Not this chicken! It was bursting with moisture.  I wondered if three jalapeƱos would be too spicy-- but that wasn't the case at all.   I sent my son to his home, with a care package of leftover chicken. He said it was just as good to eat, the next day.

You might wonder if you can adapt this to a gas grill. Yes, I don't see why not.  However, I think that cooking over coals adds so much more flavor!

I didn't photograph the Sweet Potato salad recipe, but I will make it again and share it.  I made it, on a whim, and I got rave reviews.  As for the plantains, this is also something new for me. Plantains have a starchy texture, but I find them to be a delicious alternative to making mashed potatoes.  My son isn't a fan of citrus (I hope he outgrows that), but the rest of us love it.  (Both recipes are at the very end of this post. Recipe Source: The Pioneer Woman, Food Network.)

Our infamous Salinas Winds are having quite an attitude these last couple of weeks.  Traditionally, our true summer weather doesn't get started until August-September.  I just bought this book, by Weber, that has a lot of mouth watering pictures and recipes. I definitely plan to make a few of these, and I will share them with you.  

Happy Grilling, and may the summer temperatures be just right for what makes you comfortable!

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Anonymous said...

Outstanding Debby! I've been a huge fan of Jerk (Jerked?) meats and even some kinds of fish, for years. What a great reminder to make it again. Your sauce/marinade is nearly identical to what I make and you obviously have it nailed. Plantains are also a favored treat, but I've never tried mashing them. I generally make long slices on the bias, dust with flour and pan fry in a combination of butter and EVOO. Great pix of a wonderful meal and I can easily understand why your Craig and son enjoyed it all so much. Best wishes and I hope you enjoy your fall trip to Europe.
The other Craig...

-The other Craig

Big Dude said...

Looks delicious Debbie. I like the way he cooked it with a little black.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I get such grill envy in the summer. Such is the life of an apartment dweller! I want your chicken badly.

I'm in the charcoal grill camp myself. To me a gas grill doesn't really feel like grilling. If I ever have a house with a yard, I will be buying myself a nice Weber grill.

My brother uses a caja china since he has a yard, but he can't dig a pit in it. That's where I get my barbecue on - when he has a pig roast.