Tuesday, September 4, 2012

last minute grilled jerk chicken

this past week i had an unexpected, late august visit to michigan.

it left me happier than any previous time i’ve wandered home

for many reasons, this time around, love seemed undeniable.

let’s be honest, look at this place
photographs from my uncle ron’s film minolta

so after a week of sticky heat and late night swims, track walkin’ and singin’ old tunes, i’ve found myself right where i need to be. 

from one home to the other.

going and coming made me realize that summer in portland is, indeed, all that everyone has ever told me it is:
hot, but not arid, not humid, just nice.

windy, sunny, vibrant, blue


to celebrate my labors, and the labors of others, yesterday the grill got pulled out. the charcoal lit. chicken marinated.

there are a few things in this world i wouldn’t want to live without:

so last night, we made jamaican jerk chicken (stewed black beans and rice, grilled zucchini and poblano peppers and corn)

quick note before i share this recipe:

when i was in high school, a friend of mine and her mother shared a few journeys to jamaica with me. needless to say, these times were not only beautiful, but extremely engaging and educational. during those days, in total they amount to twenty or so, i learned about people. and by people i mean mankind, existence. some of the most wholesome people in the world taught me there. reading the book of job on benches. walking beneath mango trees into the homes of loved ones. so as i was laying down this meat on the grill yesterday, the aromas of molasses and allspice in the smoke, i couldn’t help but think of this:


jamaican jerk chicken
compliments of the worldwide web with my personal adaptations (in bold)

1 (5 or 6 pound) roasting chicken, cut in half, lengthwise

½ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brandy
2 habaneros, with seeds, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
4 green onion tops, chopped
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 teaspoons ground allspice
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons molasses

½ cup lime juice
salt and pepper

i. go to the butcher, purchase a 4-5 lb chicken, have them cut it in half for you

ii. at home, prepare all the ingredients through molasses. combine in a blender and blend until mixture is nearly smooth.

iii. taste it. i added about 2 tablespoons of red wine (shiraz-cab blend), just because. it helped deepen the smokiness of the spices and enhance the sweetness. of course, this is optional.

iv. in a plastic container, or bowl, whatever is most convenient, place your chicken down and cover with the lime juice. now bathe them in your jerk sauce. set aside.

ideally, this should marinate overnight. my roommate and i made it on a whim, marinated it for about an hour and a half, and i was still delicious and tender.

v. heat your coals on the grill, or turn your fancy gas grill to medium. when it’s all ready, lay the chicken down.

 this is the part where you just have to watch and wait and kind of play it by ear. after about ten minutes, i flipped the chicken. then after another 10 or fifteen minutes i flipped it again. the outside of the meat, skin included, will be very crispy and charred. i’d say in total, it will take about thirty to forty minutes over medium-high heat on a coal grill. for more specific grilling instructions, refer to the recipe i posted beneath the title, girl knows what she’s doin'.

so what's on the cart, sides n' all?

top left: grilled vegetables quarter 4 zucchini and 3 poblanos (removing stems and seeds). half 8-10 pearl onions. toss with lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. grill in a basket pan over medium-low heat until they're cooked to your liking.

bottom left: stewed black beans over medium heat, 3 cans of black beans (omitting juices from one can), 4 minced garlic cloves, ground nutmeg, ground black pepper, salt, cinnamon, red wine, whole cayenne peppers, 3 bay leaves. simmer for an hour. add more spices to taste.

bottom right: white rice. cook how you like to, using chicken stock as opposed to water. 

top right: but of course, jerk chicken. as prepared using recipe above.