Ben and I are still riding our post-vacation high!
We’ve been reminiscing about ridiculously attractive brother and sister, afraid of the water guy, and hot Italians in small bikinis from our hotel, Ben’s been complimenting me on how “rasta” my cooking smells, and I’ve been very laid back in my requests such as, hey mon, can you come pick up your clothes from the living room floor, mon? Much love! instead of, listen, you really need to get your crap out here or I’m going to go completely bananas.
Kidding! Kind of…
Before we come back down to earth though, and start eating things like cheese and skittles again (Jamaican food is very healthy!) I wanted to try and recreate one of the meals we had nearly every afternoon at our resort, Jerk Chicken with Red Beans & Rice.
Ben and I were both amped to try authentic jerk chicken upon our arrival in Jamaica, and practically whooped out loud after learning there was a jerk chicken shack located RIGHT on the beach of our hotel, and that it was open for lunch everyday.
We quickly fell in love – nay, become obsessed – with the Caribbean-spiced chicken which was slow roasted until the meat was juicy and succulent, then grilled until the skin crisped and sizzled.
Every afternoon we’d take a break from sun and surf, line up at the shack, and eagerly watch the cook whack a couple cooked chicken in half with his cleaver, then generously pile the pieces onto our plates. We’d fill the other side with fluffy, creamy red beans and rice, and then drizzle the whole thing with homemade sauce.
Hot for him, BBQ for her. Devoured, and plates licked clean under a shady tree with a cold red stripe.
It doesn’t get better than this! we’d exclaim every afternoon. (Ben asks that you please excuse his creeper smile. He thought he had more sauce on his face at the time, which would warrant the expression.)
Anyways! After some research I found a ton of jerk chicken recipes to try at home, and was tickled pinker than my sunburn after finding one in the comments section of a blog that didn’t involve several complicated marinating steps, which several others had called for. The guy, Rich, had been making the recipe every week for years. Dang! How bad could it be?!
Not bad AT ALL!
It’s hard to compete with authentic jerk chicken made in Jamaica, on the beach, by a Jamaican – but for an American attempt at home, I think it was pretty good!
Start by mixing up a marinade for the jerk chicken in large bowl or dish.
The marinade is made up of a dry component including dried thyme, allspice, sugar, ground sage, cayenne pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon.
And a wet component including white vinegar, olive oil, orange juice, soy sauce and lime juice.
Slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients to create a super slurry of flavah.
Stir in chopped white onion, green onion, and crushed garlic cloves, then stir to combine.
Next add chicken breasts to the bowl, and cover them completely in the marinade. The chef in Jamaica used whole chickens, but boneless, skinless chicken breasts work better when you want to get dinner on the table in under an hour.
After marinating for a few hours, I’d ordinarily grill these suckers up until they were crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside, but since we’re still WOG (without grill) over here, I used the upside down grill, and broiled ‘em instead.
Place an oven rack one rung down from the top, spread the chicken out on a broiling rack or foil-covered baking sheet, and broil for 5-6 minutes a side, or until cooked all the way through, brushing with leftover marinade every few minutes.
Drizzle with your favorite BBQ or hot sauce, then pair with a big scoop of Jamaican-style red-beans and rice on the side.
Jamaican Jerk Chicken
Adapted from commenter Rich on Simply Recipes
4 chicken breasts
1 Tablespoon allspice
1 Tablespoon dried thyme
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground sage
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
2 green onions, chopped
1 cup chopped white onion
5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- Combine the first 8 ingredients (the seasonings) into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together the vinegar, orange juice, olive oil, soy sauce, and lime juice.
- Slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until smooth. Mix in green onions, white onions and garlic cloves, then add the chicken breasts into the bowl, turning over to cover completely in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, and up to overnight.
- Grill or broil chicken for 4-5 minutes a side, brushing the marinade over while grilling. When no longer pink in the middle, remove to a plate, and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve with your favorite BBQ or hot sauce.
Again, don’t be scared by the lengthy ingredient list! The thing we loved so much about Jamaican food is not only how fresh and healthy everything was, but how much flavor was packed into every bite with the use of spices instead of fats. Common spices, too. I had ‘em all in my cupboards!
*Please excuse my Corona. Wrong country, I know, but still damn tasty.
The Jamaican Red Beans & Rice recipe I made to go alongside was the STAR of the meal though. Green onion, garlic, and coconut milk infused rice was creamy, and soooo satisfying.
I made Ben a pot of plain white rice, you know, because of the whole coconut thing, but he tried one bite of mine and began to wail. You were right and now I have plain rice and you have delicious coconut rice and all is lost! You know all things! Or, something like that.
Jamaican Red Beans and Rice
Slightly adapted from Skinny Taste
1 Tablespoon coconut oil (or canola oil)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 green onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup water
1 cup lite coconut milk
1 cup long grain white rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add garlic, green onion, and thyme, and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add beans, water, and coconut milk to the pan, then stir and bring to a boil. Add in rice and salt, then place a lid on top, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until all the liquid as been absorbed, and rice is tender.
Ok, the final recap post including information on where we stayed is coming up tomorrow! Until then, I’m off to relive sea kayaking with Ben. That…was a doozy.
Have a great night, everyone!