Get your stomach ready to ruuuummmmmblllllllllllllllllllle – again!
In this corner we have locally-raised chicken.
In that corner we have jerk marinade.
This protein and preparation will duke it out again, with the hopes of a knock-out performance that won’t knock your taste buds down to the fiery pits of hell.
It was delicious, but the 6 habanero habanero peppers created a sauce so spicy it could’ve gotten me hired as a sky-writer at the beach.
I owe this round to Food Network’s Sandwich King, Jeff Mauro. On a recent episode of his show he featured jerk chicken. It had my mouth-watering for the all-spice laden, pepper packed, concoction that could tenderize a chicken breast better than a mallet the size of Missouri.
The chicken came from a farmers’ market vendor called Thicketty Mountain Farms. I got beautiful breasts from pasture-raised chickens. Shop local – and the food will taste better than ever, I promise.
This time around I simplified the marinade. I cut back on the number of habaneros and ingredients. I paired the chicken with grilled pineapple and mango coconut rice.
Here’s what you need:
1 Habanero pepper
¼ Cup light brown sugar
1 Small white onion
5 Cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 Navel orange
½ Tbsp. all spice
½ Tbsp. dried thyme leaves
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. cinnamon
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend till everything is broken down and combined. It’s OK if you see little bits of onion or thyme leaf pieces.
Seal the bag. Make sure you get out all the air.
If it makes you feel better, think about this: Some say jerk chicken got its name from the process of jerking holes in the meat and filling them with spices before cooking.
Put the bag in the fridge and let it sit 8-10 hours.
About 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook the chicken, prepare your rice.
Here’s what you need:
2 Cups of jasmine rice
1 13.5 oz can of coconut milk
1 10.5 oz can of coconut water with pulp (if you can find it)
1 Clove of garlic
1/3 of a fresh pineapple, cut into spears (or 1 can of pineapple rings in juice, drained)
Jasmine rice has a very specific, almost nutty scent to it. When cooked it’s more fragrant than regular white rice. It tends to be a bit stickier than typical rice, too.
First, rinse the rice a few times. I don’t know that this is incredibly necessary, but I did it because many people say it gets any lingering dust off the grains and it also gets rid of extra starch which cuts down the stickiness after cooking. So there.
Add the liquid to a pot. Add the rice.
Grate in the clove of garlic. Add a big pinch of salt.
Stir everything, and bring the mixture to a boil.
Then cover and reduce the heat to low.
Let cook for about 20 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare your fruit and cook the chicken.
If you’re using fresh pineapple (I found them for $1.99 each, hello steal!), cut off the top, then shave down the sides.
Then cut the pineapple into thirds, but carving around the core.
Cut down the sides of the mango. This can be a pain, because you have to avoid the seed.
Then, using the tip of a knife, score the flesh into a checkerboard.
When there’s 10 minutes of cooking time left, grill the chicken, pineapple, and mango (flesh side down).
I did shrimp, too, so we’d have lunch the next day.
To serve, cut up the pineapple, carve out the mango chunks, and add the fruit to the rice. Stir. Add the zest of the lime and 2 good pinches of salt. Fluff with a fork.
Serve with a dipping dish of the marinade. Just nuke it for about 15 minutes to warm it through. Only use the marinade that you had left from the original batch. Do not use the marinade that was in with the chicken!
This marinade knocked the last one out of the ring. It wasn’t nearly as spicy, and it was much easier.
The rice was sweet, creamy, and slightly sticky. The lime zest gave it a little brightness.
I think I could eat this dish once a week.
There’s a one-two punch here of heat and sweet that you just can’t beat.
Tip: If you want the flavor without the intense heat, use a jalapeno instead of a habanero. If you want no heat at all, just add half of a red bell pepper.