Exploring jerk, what's your favorit combo?
- Wendy Lai
My husband had some in a restaurant and recently at a friend's house, and now wants me to add it to my reportire. I did a bit research online and saw most jerk seasoning is a combo of thyme, scotch bonnet chilis, cinnamon, and all spice. Some calls for giner, others don't, some even have soy sauce, which I'm suspicious of.
What is your combo?
Also, if anyone lives in San Francisco, and have eaten 21st Amendment's jerk roasted chicken, any idea how they keep everything so moist, yet the jerk seasoning pentrate all the way into the meat?
And if you were making a menu centering around a roated jerk chicken, what sides/dessert would you recommend?
Soy sauce isn't so surprising because there was a period of Chinese immigration to Jamaica and now you can find lots of biracial Wongs and Lees on the island. One of the big dancehall reggae labels is run by a Chinese family now based out of NY.
Chicken and goat is my thing. Shrimp is good but don't marinate it more than an hour or too much flavor is absorbed.
A good side dish is red beans and rice made with coconut milk. Search out small red beans, not kidneys. Fried plantains. Cassava. Breadfruit. Lots of starches but I can't think of any vegetables besides callaloo [?], a leafy green.
Here's the recipe we love...we've been to Jamaica 3 times and it tastes most like what we've had on the beaches there...this recipe is from Sara Moulton.
2 scotch bonnet (or habanero) peppers, chopped
(be careful handling these! INCENDIARY and hurtful if you rub your eyes afterwards...you can remove seeds and ribs for less heat...I usually just remove the seeds)
2 cups chopped scallions
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
5 teaspoons allspice
3 teaspoons English mustard (Colemans recommended)
2 bay leaves, crumbled
2 cloves garlic, quartered
1 Tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
6-8 pieces of chicken, bone in best (I remove skin for health reasons)
In a blender, combine all ingredients except for chicken til smooth. Place chicken pieces in a zip lock bag or in a glass dish. Pour jerk mixture over chicken pieces; you will need to scrape blender jar out with rubber spatula and usually what I do is I squeeze a little more lime juice and/or soy sauce into the jar to help "rinse" out the rest of the good stuff. Make sure all pieces are coated with mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Heat up your grill and cook chicken til done. The smokey fumes can make you choke; I've only cooked this outdoors. (I remember Sara Moulton coughing and laughing when she cooked this in her studio kitchen.)
To us, jerk chicken is best only cooked over a grill, not baked. From what I've read, allspice is the essential ingredient along with the scotch bonnet peppers, though I do know others who've made it with jalapenos...the scotch bonnets have a distinctive flavor all their own though, so try and find those.
For a side dish, rice & peas is the traditional Jamaican fare but I've served it with ginger coconut rice also. Baked sweet potatoes might also be nice with it though, come to think of it!
I love Chris Schlesinger's recipe for jerk chicken in _Thrill of the Grill_ - RecipeSource has it in the link provided (though they don't credit it to to Mr. Schlesinger...)
It's kind of a cheat to start the marinade off with a bottled hot sauce, but when it's as tasty a sauce as Inner Beauty, I don't quibble.
Serve with the classic Jamaican "Festival" - this is a slightly sweet, deep fried cornmeal dumpling that is usually about 3/4 of an inch in diameter and about 5 inches in length. Soft and crumbly!
Serve with fried sweet plantains...you can dep fry or bake
Serve with rice and peas - Jamaican style...that is cooked in coconut milk with scallians and thyme etc.
Roasted sweet potatoes OR sweet potato wedges
Serve with fried bammies...this is a cassava cake that is soaked in milk and pan fried. Usually better with fried or grilled fish but will be OK here as one of you dishes
You could have your roasted root veggies - carrots parsnips etc
Also some cole slaw or simple lettuce greens
Some steamed callaloo, or any greens like spincah...you may sautee it up with pine nuts or something like that and add raisins if you want more sweetness around to countract the heat...
Tradition - Hunk of warm freshly baked white bread (for ONLY very non-formal situations )
Sweet potato pudding or bread pudding with some sort of rum and raisin sauce...maybe with a dollop of vanilla ice cream or to pair hearty with sophisticated - lightly sweetened creme fraiche
Drink - pina colada..you wanted tropical, right?
Last week I was researching this and made some over the weekend. I did not make my own spice since I bought Walkerswood, which is super hot. I am gonna try another one, Vernon's soon which they say is low sodium!
There is amenu that was run in Essence about 3 years ago which I bookmarked this sunday so I will post later