Sunday, July 15, 2012

Jerk chicken

Following recipes, I find, is usually a matter of deciding whether I have the ingredients in the house, whether I can do without the ones I’m missing, and whether I can substitute ingredients I do have for ones the writer recommends. I am too mean to buy items such as allspice berries especially for one dish, because I reckon that the packet may go to waste before I need them again.

Another consideration when adapting Felicity Cloake’s ‘Perfect’ jerk chicken from the Guardian is what high heat does to sugar. The chicken illustrated in the piece is blackened. (I know: the pieces illustrated above look pretty dark; but the photograph has exaggerated the colour.) Soy sauce by itself tends to caramelise, and can burn; sugar will ensure that you get chicken with a burned exterior, particularly if you cook it on the barbecue.

Like many of the recipes involving chillis on this blog, this serves one – the other members of my family would not enjoy it. But the quantities in the marinade may of course be adjusted upwards.

1 spring onion, cut into pieces
2 scotch bonnet chillis, pith (which, rather than the seeds, is the hottest part) removed
1 clove of garlic, cut into pieces

1tsp fresh ginger
1/4tsp allspice
Sprinkling of cinnamon
A couple of gratings of nutmeg
Ground black pepper (to taste)
Salt (to taste)
1tsp soy sauce
1dstsp white wine vinegar (or lemon or lime juice)
1dstsp sunflower oil
2 chicken thighs

Put the spring onion, chillis, garlic, and ginger into an electric vegetable mill. (A food processor is likely to be too large for this modest quantity.) Whizz. You don’t need to create a slush, but can have a mixture in which little pieces of the vegetables are distinct. Stir in the other ingredients, apart from the chicken.

Put the chicken into a bowl or oven dish, and spread the jerk marinade all over it, including under the skin. Leave “for at least six hours”, Cloake says; I left mine for three.

It’s certainly not worth starting a barbecue for one person. I prefer to bake/roast chicken rather than to grill it, liking it tender. So in order to avoid charring the skin, I cooked it covered with foil for an hour at gas mark 4/180C, before uncovering it.

Of course, when I uncovered the dish, I found that my chicken thighs were swimming in liquid. Not to worry: I poured this sauce into a small pan, returned the chicken to the oven, and boiled the sauce until it had a syrupy consistency. Then I spread this syrup on to the chicken, and cooked it, uncovered, for a further 15 minutes, until the marinade had caramelised slightly.

You can never be certain, until you eat them, how hot chillis will be. These were just right. Their zingy heat, combined with the spicy, sour sweetness of the other ingredients, was delicious.

1 comment:

apple said...

I had read some recipes about this dish, but you recipe is different from them. I think I must try this first to know what is better.

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