We had some pretty big storms last night, and there are more predicted for this afternoon. But luckily, we were able to grill out this afternoon. This has the makings of a really awesome meal, and I’ve been looking forward to it all week. Especially since I found out a grocery store down the street had a really great sale on chicken—I got over 6 lbs of chicken quarters for $4.35!
The main dish today is jerk chicken. I often associate jerk chicken with Jamaica, but apparently it’s not the “national dish” per se, which is often attributed to a dish called ackee and saltfish. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find ackee, but lo and behold, I did find some at the international grocery store. I’ll have to remember that for future reference. But anyway, I’ve loved jerk chicken for years but had no idea how to make it. This calls to take your chicken and let it marinate overnight in a marinade made of brown sugar, allspice, scallions, vegetable oil, black pepper, salt, ginger, lime juice, soy sauce, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, minced garlic, and minced serrano peppers (in lieu of Scotch bonnets or habaneros). Then when it came time to grill (I’m actually trying to learn how to grill from my husband; it’s not my favorite thing and thankfully he handled everything today beautifully), we placed it skin side down and turned it after a little while when the marinade started to form a crust. Different recipes calls to handle this a little differently, but we reserved some of the marinade to brush on while it was grilling. We even tried to emulate a barbecue jerk chicken we loved from a jerk chicken place we used to frequent when we were in Chicago by brushing barbecue sauce on instead of marinade. This was so good, complete with sauce all over your fingers and lips. As my husband put it, “I’m having some jerk chicken with a side of jerk chicken, and for dessert I’m having some jerk chicken.”
|You really can't go wrong with this bread. It's quite easy and very good.|
The bread I chose for today is called hard dough bread (spelled a variety of ways). When we lived in Chicago, the jerk chicken places used to serve their meals with a slice of hard dough bread. We never knew what it was called, but it was like a dense white bread that was slightly sweet (this was the closest thing I could find for it). It went well with the spiciness of the chicken. This bread starts out with mixing all of the dry ingredients first: 6 2/3 c flour, 1 packet of yeast, 4 Tbsp sugar, and 2 tsp salt. Then I took 5 Tbsp of butter and cut it into the dry ingredients. After it was all incorporated, I poured in 2 c of cold water and kneaded it for about 15 minutes. Next it came time to form it into a ball and oil it, covering it with a towel and letting it rest for 40 minutes. After this time was up, I took out the dough ball, broke it into two pieces, and rolled it out with a rolling pin until it was a rectangle. Then I rolled up my dough as tightly as I could and shaped it into a rectangle shape so that it would fit into my greased loaf pans. After letting it rest for another 40 minutes, I put it into a 375º oven for 25 minutes. The bread wasn’t quite as dense as the bread I remember in Chicago, but it was still very good nonetheless. It was soft with a somewhat soft crust and a slightly sweet taste. It went well with the jerk chicken, but I think it’ll also go well with some butter and jam.
|This was good. Although you can use different kinds of beans/peas, I think kidney beans are best.|
To go with this, I made the ubiquitous side dish of rice and beans. I drained the liquid off of the kidney beans into a large measuring cup, adding in a can of coconut milk and enough water to top it off at 4 cups. Then I put the liquids in a pot with the beans, onions, garlic, thyme, and some oil, bringing it all to a boil. After it reaches boiling, I put the rice into the pot as well, stirring it well. I laid a whole serrano pepper on top, covered it, and let it cook for about 20 minutes until the rice is cooked. Just before I served this, I took the pepper out. It wasn’t quite as flavorful as I imagined it would be. The consistency was more or less ok although there were a few grains of rice or onions that seemed a little hard still. Perhaps it needed more salt? Black pepper maybe? Perhaps some crushed red pepper or cumin? I don’t know. It was good, but I think I need to work with the recipe.
|It's so colorful, packed with nutrients and very good for you.|
And finally, I served this with steamed callaloo. I bought canned callaloo (which saved a little time than if I bought fresh) and emptied it into a pot along with some oil and some water. Then I added in a little onion, a can of diced tomatoes, minced garlic, thyme, and salt and cooked it over a medium flame for about ten minutes or so. Callaloo will turn brown if it’s overcooked so it’s best to watch it. This had a little bit of a bite to it, even though I didn’t add in anything particularly spicy. To me, callaloo has a flavor and consistency like collard greens, so if you like collard greens, you’d like this. We’re huge fans of collard greens, so this went over well with my family.
|This is one of those meals that I'm looking forward to having for lunch tomorrow. If my husband doesn't eat all the chicken first.|
This was one of those meals that went over well with the whole family. Everyone was raving about the chicken (which makes this a must-repeat recipe). I know as a parent and wife of people with a variety of dietary restrictions for a variety of reasons, it’s often challenging to find something everyone can/will eat. I have one who needs soft foods, no MSG, and no tomatoes; two who can’t do spicy foods; one who needs high calorie foods; and I don’t do aspartame. Not to mention that one person hates squash, one hates sour cream and cantaloupe, and one is so picky that it changes daily. So, when I make a dish or a meal that hits most of these marks, then it’s a winner for me. And this one was a winner. Because of this, my prize is to finish my Red Stripe and then maybe finish another.
Up next: Japan