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Jerk chicken is one of those ideal summer dishes – fun and festive enough for company and quick enough, after the initial marinade, for every day. Pair it with a Mango Salsa and maybe some trendy Sweet Potato Fries and you have a party on your hands.

Jerk Chicken with Mango Salsa

Jerk Chicken with Mango Salsa

I have definite opinions on Jerk Chicken – I think using fresh thyme, fresh ginger and whole allspice makes all the difference in the world in terms of flavor. Adjust the heat up or down by add more or less Habanero or scotch bonnet, but please, don’t skimp on the fresh thyme! Throw out that bottle of Jerk sauce in your cupboard or fridge and spend five minutes whipping up this simple marinade in the blender and watch your family and friends go nuts over this chicken.

Why the quotes around “Jerk” Chicken in the title? It’s pretty difficult to have “real” Jerk Chicken here in the states without all the traditional ingredients and methods – if you have a source for Pimento wood, smoke this – and send me some of those chips to me! In the meantime, I’m pretty satisfied with this grilled recipe.

Bone in chicken pieces are great if you want to spend the time on the grill, slowly cooking this to a tender perfection, but for a crowd or weeknight cooking, you can’t beat a boneless breast – just watch them carefully so they don’t dry out. This marinade is marvelous with pork chops, also.

Buy the chicken on sale and you’re sure to have a budget dinner. The Jerk Chicken runs a measly $1.27 (note: I don’t count spices) and I’ve added my Stupid Simple Sweet Potato Fries and some Mango Salsa to bring some freshness to the meal. You’ll have enough bank left to whip up a dipping sauce for the fries. I think you’ll like my Chile Lime Dipping Sauce.

 

Jerk Chicken, serves 4

  • 1 teaspoon of allspice berries
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1″ piece of cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped green onion (or scallion)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh ginger, roughly chopped (I use about a one inch “hunk”
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet chile, seeded or up to five or six (the larger amount would be “crazy hot”
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (brown or white)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 six ounce Chicken Breasts, chicken parts or pork chops (this marinade will be enough for 8 to 12 if you’re serving to more people)

Grind spices in spice blender or regular blender. Add all ingredients to blender or food processor and blend until fairly smooth.  A little chunky is just fine. Marinate at room temperature one an a half to two hours, or overnight in refrigerator.

Scrape off any excess sauce, drizzle chicken with a teaspoon or so of oil and grill over a low fire. Grilling time will depend on the type meat you’re using. If cooking in the oven, preheat to 500 degrees and cook for about 20 minutes (again depending on what type of meat you’re using) turn and continuing to cook till done.

Grill or Oven Roast to a temperature of 165 degrees, remove, tent with foil and allow to rest for about 5 to 10 minutes.

Heat level:  I generally use two chiles, sometimes three, but if I have company that I know is a bit afraid of heat, I’ll back it down to one.  If you love the heat – go for more.

Note: Watch the Char marks on your grilled foods – they’ve been known for years to not be good for us.

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my Strategies – You’ll see them all explained on the upper left tab of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.

Strategies Applied

I never count the cost of my spices – I just consider them a necessary part of cooking – and the math would be very difficult for such small amounts.  This recipe does use large amounts, so I’ll add on about 20 cents to the recipe.

  • Chicken:  I never buy full price chicken – it goes on sale too often.  Some sales are better than others, but usually every few weeks it will drop to 99 cents a pound, and I stock up then.  I portion it out into Ziploc bags, a breast per person for meals and freeze.  If breasts are super large, I’ll trim them down to about six ounces and make tenders for the kids or use the bits for stir fry.  Cost for four breasts, 24 ounces is about $1.49.
  • Dried Spices:  I just consider dried spices to be an investment.  They keep, literally for years in a dark, cool cupboard, tightly lidded in a jar.  I do look for them in the bulk aisle or in the produce aisle in cellophane packets.
  • Soy Sauce:  I buy this after New Years, when the prices of Chinese and Asian products drop to their lowest, and coupons abound.  I haven’t paid for Soy sauce now for several years the small bottles are about a dollar on sale and most coupons out there are for a dollar.
  • Thyme:  You can buy a bunch of thyme for about the cost of a plant – seriously consider growing your own in your garden, deck or windowsill.  At the end of the season, bring them indoors.  If you haven’t planted any yet this year, do so right now when the nurseries are getting rid of their stock for 50 percent off.
  • Ginger:  I keep mine in the freezer – it just takes a minute to thaw enough to cut.
  • Green Onion:  I always save a bit of the white and the root and put in a jar of water in a sunny window.  The tops grow back for months.  Look to purchase during any holiday when they usually run about half the usual price.  Because I get so many uses from my green onion, the cost is nominal.
  • Scotch Bonnet Chiles:  The price per pound is high, but they’re so small they barely cost anything.  The two I used were about 17 cents.

Nutrition:

Cal 239; cal fr Fat 30.88 (13 %); tot fat 3.4g; sat fat .83g; chol 72.58mg; tot carb 23.76g; fib 2.46g; sug 10.73g; prot 28.93g Note on Grilling:  There is quite a bit of evidence that the char from grilling (and other cooking) is linked to cancer.  It’s a good idea to be careful in the cooking process, limit these foods and know the facts.

Put Your own Spin on It:

  • This is a very forgiving recipe – use as much or as little as you like of all the ingredients.
  • No green onion?  Try red onion, instead.
  • Leftovers?  This is marvelous on a pizza, especially thin, crispy one, maybe with provolone cheese and perfect sliced on a salad.

Recipe made July 2012