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Monday, March 9, 2009

A Taste of Jamaica ~ Jerk Chicken, Rice and Beans, Braised Kale with a Jamaican Rum Dessert

This is the first contribution from the newest Grillin Fool, Tom. Tom has been getting a boatload of use out of the mother of all grills - The Big Green Egg - and it seemed only fitting that he join the Grillin Fools family. So click below to see how this island adventure can be captured no matter where you are...

For the first time in more than a decade my wife and I did not take our annual February vacation in the Caribbean. So to help overcome the winter blues we decided to create a meal with the flavors of our favorite destination ~ Negril, Jamaica. Jerk Chicken with all the trimmings including rice & beans alongside some braised kale. And of course some good Appleton Jamaican Rum.

The first step is the marinade for the chicken. This is best marinated overnight, but if you are not the type to plan ahead no worries mon. This will still be good if you marinate for at least three hours.

Jerk Chicken - The Marinade
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
2 Scotch Bonnet Pepper (if you can't find this at your grocery use a fresh jalapeño)**
1 Tbs allspice
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbs brown sugar
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup dark rum
juice from one fresh lime
juice from one fresh orange

One chicken butterflied or chicken pieces

**Note well: For a spicy recipe keep some or all of the ribs and seeds from the scotch bonnet or jalapeño, otherwise remove all the ribs and seeds. Also, the spice combination might sound a little strange, but trust me when this hits the grill you won't believe how amazing it smells!

Combine all of the above ingredients (except for the chicken) in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Rub marinade into chicken pieces and place into ziploc bags. Marinate in refrigerator at least three hours (overnight is best).

The last time I made this I butterflied the chicken, but this time we had some leg and thigh quarters and that is what we used. Either the butterflied chicken or pieces will work, just use real bone-in chicken.

As Scott mentioned in a previous post - "I am the Egg-man" and like to cook on my Big Green Egg so that is how I cooked this chicken. However any grill can be used, you just want to cook it low and slow. I recommend approximately 300 - 325 degrees for approximately 60 to 90 minutes. I am a fan of natural charcoal, not the perfectly square pressed stuff you typically find in stores. **Editor's Note - Regular charcoal briquettes are perfectly fine for this recipe. Tom has become a fan of the natural or lump charcoal once he got a BGE that recommends against using standard charcoal briquettes in the BGE. Regular briquettes may actually lend themselves more to slow and low process like this as lump charcoal tends to burn faster and hotter than regular briquettes**

And I use the charcoal chimney to start my fire as I am not a fan of the taste of lighter fluid.

**Editor's note - most Jerk recipes have some sugar involved which burns rather easily so some blackening of the chicken is to be expected and in fact adds to the flavor. But if you are turned off by the blackening you can remove the brown sugar and replace it with Turbinado Sugar or Sugar in the Raw**

My lovely wife prepared the braised kale and the rice & peas - this is her spin on a Jamaican staple.

Rice & Peas
1 cup white rice (not the fast cooking kind)
1 can kidney beans, drained (fresh red peas are used on the island)
2 cloves garlic
1 uncut Scotch Bonnet Pepper (again use fresh jalapeño if you can't find Scotch Bonnet)
1/4 cup sliced leeks
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp dried thyme (or 2 sprigs fresh)

If you have not cooked with leeks before, give them a try. They are milder and smoother than onions. However, they come with a little sand / dirt embedded. So cut off the ends of the leek (discard the ends) and cut into thin slices. Pull the rings apart and place into a bowl of water and swoosh it around in order to remove any sand or grit from the leeks. Then remove the leeks and drain on paper towels.

The coconut milk is a little different too. We buy it in a can and it is somewhat solid when opened. Pour the coconut milk into a bowl and stir until the solids and watery portions are smooth before measuring out for this recipe. The coconut milk adds a nice creaminess to the recipe so I really encourage you to try it.

Crush garlic and add to boiling chicken broth. Add coconut milk, salt, pepper, thyme, leeks, beans, rice and uncut pepper to the chicken broth. Cover and reduce to a simmer for approximately 30 minutes (depending on the rice you use). Because the pepper is uncut, the rice will have the flavor of the pepper without being overly spicy.

Braised Kale
Okay, so this may not be a caribbean recipe. But we needed something green so went to this hearty, southern soul-food.

1 Tbs olive oil
2 slices bacon
1 pound kale
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup leeks
fresh nutmeg (just two swipes over the microplane)
salt & pepper to taste

Saute the bacon in olive oil until almost crisp, then add leeks and cook a few more minutes until they are tender:

While the bacon and leeks are cooking the kale needs to be prepped. The thick rib that runs through each leaf needs to be removed from the kale (fold the leaf and remove the rib by pulling it out or cut it out with a knife):

Then roll the kale and slice into ribbons. This is not difficult and the prep of the kale takes approximately 5 minutes:

Add the kale and chicken broth to the pot, cover and cook for approximately 30 minutes. Kale is a very hearty green and takes a while to become tender. The volume will reduce by more than half when fully cooked.

Now it's time to combine the three. Here we have the chicken fresh off the BGE:

The rice and beans in the pot ready for the plate:

And all three plated:
And what Jamaican meal would be complete without some Appleton Rum?

And a bonus. To complete the meal, how about a traditional Jamaican dessert **Editors Note - Pictures to be added soon**

Rum Raisin Ice Cream with Sauteed Bananas
2 Tbs raisins
3 Tbs rum**
3 Tbs butter
3 Tbs brown sugar
1 banana sliced in half lengthwise
vanilla ice cream

Soak the raisins in rum for fifteen minutes.

Using a skillet over medium heat melt the butter, then stir in the brown sugar. When this is combined add the banana slices and cook until nicely caramelized (this takes approximately 3 - 4 minutes):

Add the raisins and rum and stir until combined:

Spoon hot mixture over vanilla ice cream, top with whipped cream and enjoy!

**Not a desert for children!

**Editor's note - glad to have you aboard well as your lovely wife!!!

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