Carnival Jerk Chicken

I’m sharing my jerk chicken recipe today in honour of the Notting Hill carnival this weekend. I’ve been going to carnival for the last ten years and one of the best things about it is all the yummy food. The smell of the bbqs combined with the carni inebriation that only red stripe can offer is a truly amazing thing.  This is not the time to play it safe with a boring slice of pizza, you’ve got to go for the properly authentic Caribbean food as it’s some of the best you’ll ever taste outside of the West Indies.

My jerk recipe is a little unorthodox in that I use chicken breasts as opposed to the more traditional bone-in thighs or legs. That’s not to say that it’s any less delicious though, the marinade/ sauce is unreal! I often find that jerk chicken can be a bit dry but that’s far from the case here. After colouring the meat you cook it in the sauce which keeps it really tender and flavourful.

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 chicken breasts
4 corn on the cob

Marinade
– thumb sized piece of ginger
– 1 shallot
– 1 small bunch coriander
– 1 bunch of spring onions
– 1 small bunch of fresh thyme
– 3 bay leaves nutmeg
– 1 level tablespoon ground allspice
– juice of 1 lime
– 4 garlic cloves
– 3 to 4  tablespoons white wine vinegar
– slug of dark rum (approx. 2 tablespoons worth)
– 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
– 1 tablespoon of honey
– 1 scotch bonnet

Rice ‘n’ Peas
1 small bunch spring onions (chopped)
ground allspice (half tea spoon)
250g long-grain rice
chicken stock cube
tin coconut milk
1 tin kidney beans
2 sprigs thyme

Method

Start by giving the fat end of the chicken breast a little bash so as to ensure it cooks evenly or, alternatively, give it a couple of centimetres snip in a vertical line through the thickest part of the breast. Season and rub with a little bit of oil – I use coconut – and then set to one side whilst getting on with the marinade. You’ll want to put the kettle on for the rice at this point as brown rice can take forever. Pop the rice into a deep frying pan with a lid or large wide saucepan and add  200ml of water (mixed with the stock cube) plus the can of coconut milk. Throw in the herbs, spices and onions before stirring and popping on the lid. Set your oven to 180 degrees.

Roughly chop the ginger, garlic, spring onions and shallot and put in a blender together with the thyme leaves (reserving a few sprigs for the rice) and the rest of the marinade ingredients. Whizz it up until it has formed a smooth paste, loosening with  little more vinegar if needs be. Taste and adjust accordingly. It may need a little more honey or a little more soy sauce at this stage depending on your personal preferences.

Now that you’ve got the sauce all ready, put a griddle pan on a high heat and colour the chicken breasts. You don’t want to cook them all the way through, you just want the nice lines from the griddle on both sides. Once you’ve done this, pop the chicken pieces into a baking dish (put about half the marinade at the bottom of the dish so that the meat can rest on top) before evenly covering with the remainder of your marinade. Cover loosely with tin foil and put in the oven for around fifteen minutes, uncovering for the final five. When you put the chicken in, check on your rice and add the kidney beans (drained and rinsed) with a little water if needs be, before covering again.

Lightly steam the corn on the cob whilst you wipe down the griddle pan and return it to a high heat. Once the corn has steamed for around 6 minutes, take it out of the steamer and give it some nice colour on the griddle. You want lovely charred bits as you would if doing corn on the bbq.

Serve the chicken on top of the rice, covered in plenty of sauce, together with the corn!

Jerk chicken 2

 

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