Wednesday, May 29, 2013

On the Menu: Jamaican Food

What a jerk!

No, I'm not talking about my husband- he's the greatest guy around.  I am talking about the Jamaican recipe of Jerked chicken/pork/goat that is one of their most famous dishes.  It's a dish that has been made for hundreds of years.  Basically the meat is marinated with garlic, herbs, allspice and one of the hottest peppers, the hot scotch bonnet.  The meat is then grilled.  In the time of the Arawak tribes, this would dry out the meat and help to preserve it, now it's just a delicious, flavorful way to prepare meat. So, of course, we had to try it.

Ackee fruit
  I would've tried the national dish, Ackee and Saltfish, but ackee (a fruit/vegetable that resembles scrambled eggs when cooked) isn't easy to come by and is supposed to be poisonous if not prepared correctly.  I don't like dangerous food so I went in search of a homemade jerk sauce.  I found this one on and liked the fact that it used rum in the sauce. 
The Scotch Bonnet Chile Pepper- BEWARE!
I couldn't find scotch bonnet chile peppers (and probably couldn't handle the heat) so I used a serrano.  Anyway here is the recipe, in Jamaica it is used on every type of meat or fish you can imagine, but I used chicken and pork.  It makes a lot of marinade, BTW, if you mix the dark rum with some lime juice and diet coke it makes a very tasty beverage :)

Jamaican Jerked Chicken and Pork
For the recipe you will need:

  • 3 oz. dark rum
  • 6 oz. beer or other liquid (orange juice would probably be good)
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 2 T minced ginger
  • 1 scotch bonnet chile pepper or other pepper- minced
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh marjoram (I used dried)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 bay leaves
  • chicken pieces
  • pork chops
1.  Put all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and add the meat.  Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight if you plan ahead like that- I never do.
2.  Preheat your grill.  The chicken was much thicker than the pork so I put that on first and when it was halfway cooked I added the pork chops.  Grill the meats until cooked thoroughly.  I boiled down the leftover marinade and served it with the meat.

We served ours with some Jamaican coleslaw (which has an oil and vinegar dressing instead of a mayonnaise based one) and some sweet potato fries.  When I was tasting the marinade (before I put the raw meat in), I wasn't sure I was going to like it.  I'm not a big fan of nutmeg it seems.  However, after it was grilled and the sauce was all caramelized, it was really good.  I was afraid to make it too spicy so I used a Serrano pepper and left it rather large, but I wish I had made it a little spicier.  Also, while the rum gave it a nice taste, the beer wasn't noticeable, I think maybe some orange juice would have been really good!!  All in all, it was good but I don't know if it's one of my all time faves.  I must admit, though, that I am really enjoying the rum!!  Yah Mon.