Monday, September 2, 2013

What a jerk

When I lived in Tennessee, there was a Caribbean-themed place known as Calypso Cafe. It was a little pricier than fast food and scads, scads, better. They did a curry chicken with apples, mustard greens, a beautiful jerk chicken and I’m damned if I know what they did to the black beans, but they were always fabulous.
This being Labor Day weekend, grilling was somewhat obligatory. While I love my barbecue recipe, it involves a little too much sugar for a diabetic friend. After some discussion with my darling Nexx about what we should put together, I decided upon jerk chicken. The challenge–a recipe without a hell of a lot of added sweetener, and something I could adjust because half of my gaming crowd (aka the Overthinkers) doesn’t have my appetite for heat.
So, there came the searching. I discarded a ton of recipes as being not quite what I felt I needed and settled upon this recipe. Our ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallion
  • 4 serrano or jalapeƱo chiles, chopped with seeds, or 1/2 Scotch bonnet chile, chopped without seeds
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 lb boneless pork loin, cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil plus extra for brushing
  • 1 tablespoon chopped scallion (optional)
I tripled the recipe, because there are six of us, all with a healthy appetite for meat. I switched out the pork for chicken thighs (I think I had about 14). Being sensitive to the heat issue, I reduced the serranos by 1/3 and scraped out the seeds (a bit of a bitch since the insides of a serrano are similar to Lucky Strikes as being firm and fully packed.
I had fun with this, after all the chopping and scraping. For one thing, I got to use my spice grinder for the allspice and the black pepper. I adore that little gadget. I had originally bought it for eating flaxseed on my cereal or yogurt, but it’s shown to be perfect for spices. It’s adjustable and it has an auto-shutoff.
All the ingredients went to the blender, and turned into a thick liquid that went immediately into two ziploc bags, followed by the chicken thighs.
I may have said this before, but ziplocs are the best thing in the world for marinating, in my less-than-humble-opinion. As long as you seal them properly (and I have had situations where I didn’t), it’s easy to turn them over and properly distribute the marinade.
Six hours or so later, I handed the chicken to Austin for grilling. Eight minutes a side brought back juicy chicken. Nexx and I shredded it and we served it with optional green onions as a garnish, and limes as an enhancement.
Nexx tried to steal mine. I did not stab him with my fork.
Have a jerk recipe you want to share? Let me know, I plan to do some pork at some point and I know there are places I haven’t looked.