03 January, 2015

Ya Mon!!

Ah yes...we've come to the time of year when everyone (except me) wishes they were on some remote tropical island sipping something with a straw in it, eating exotic fruits by the truckload, and partaking in any one of a dozen warm climate region fabulous cuisines.  I LOVE being cold.  I'd rather be cold than hot ANY day.  But not many people I know share that sentiment.  I know more snowbirds that skidaddle down to Arizona for the whole of Minnesota winter (which sometimes lasts until June...) than I know folks that would do the Polar Plunge.  To each their own...

One meal I regularly end up announcing on my Facebook page that I am making for dinner is Jerk Chicken and Coconut Rice.  Everyone says it sounds wonderful, but I honestly can't remember a single person asking for the recipe.  I already know why....they assume it is time consuming.  Ha!  Not even close.  In fact, when I can't figure out what to make for dinner and it is already 2pm I know I can marinate this chicken for a couple hours and soak my rice that whole time and flip on my burners at 4:30 and dinner will be on the table by 5pm without batting an eyelash.  The biggest dilemma I have once I decide to make this meal is what vegetable to serve with it that the children will actually eat.  They eat the chicken and the rice but...the accompanying veggie is always a toss up.  We went with carrots this time....it went over with mixed results.  Let's get started...the chicken has to soak in the marinade for at least 2 hours.  Over night is great, but not even close to necessary.  Over night just ensures full breach on the "soak in" factor, but 2 hours gets the job done well enough that people want seconds on their chicken...even the toddler.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken
3 lbs. of organic chicken (I ALWAYS use chicken thighs for this!)
6 chopped scotch bonnet peppers (habaneros)
2 T. dried thyme
2 T. dried allspice
8 cloves of garlic, minced
3 white onions, chopped
2 T. sugar
2 T. salt
2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. soy sauce
juice of one lime (3 T.)
1 tsp. lime oil
1 tsp. orange oil
1 c. orange juice
1 c. white vinegar

Roughly chop the onion, garlic, and scotch bonnet peppers and then toss ALL of the ingredients in a magic bullet or blender type appliance.  Turn it on and let it go until you have completely liquified the whole mixture.

Put the chicken into a gallon freezer ziploc bag and pour the marinade over the chicken.  Squeeze all of the air out of the bag, seal it, and pop it in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

 At least 1 hour before you plan on serving dinner, preheat the oven to 325 F, remove the chicken from the fridge to bring it closer to room temperature before cooking, and get the coconut rice started so everything is done at the same time.

NOW...typically this coconut rice dish is known as "rice and peas" and by "peas" they mean red kidney beans.  My Sprout, however, wants nothing to do with those so I haven't put them in my coconut rice for years now.  The last time I served it "properly" was when our folks were visiting us in Canada, over a year.  Moving on...

Coconut Rice
3 c. rice
2 cans of organic coconut milk
1 can of coconut water
3 c. of water
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 uncut scotch bonnet pepper
3 scallion stalks
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 sprigs of fresh thyme

Toss all of the ingredients in the pot on medium heat and let it come to a gentle boil, stirring it occasionally.

I am sure you can tell by looking at the photo that there isn't a scotch bonnet pepper floating in the pot.  Yes, another component that the children won't tolerate well.  For whatever reason, they don't seem to mind the heat from the marinade on the chicken, but when I made this rice with a pepper once they spit it out and said it was "too spicy".  Yeah, the pepper wasn't even sliced into and it made it too spicy.  Oh well..

While that is doing its thing, it is time to flash fry the chicken.  Get the cooking area ready by putting the bag of chicken on a paper town so as you move them with tongs from the bag to the hot pan you don't drip the oily, spicy marinade all over the counter.

Put a small amount of olive oil in the bottom of the pan on medium heat, and then put each chicken thigh in the pan, top side down.  You want to flash fry it at a fairly high temperature to create a loverly caramelization with the sugars in the marinade.

Once the tops are cooked, cover the whole pan with a sheet of tin foil and toss it in the oven to finish.  Make sure that you are using a pan that is ALL metal so nothing melts when you put the pan in the oven.  It needs to have a metal handle to be safe....and then PLEASE remember to use a HAND MITT or something to avoid burning yourself!

Allow the chicken to braise in the oven for 15-20 minutes then remove to cool slightly before serving.  Keep it covered while it cools to prevent the meat from drying out as it rests.  The rice should be finished at about the same time.  Remove the scallions and the sprigs of thyme before serving.  When I am serving this for dinner and there are more adults than children to consider I serve this with a mango salsa over top of the chicken to add a fresh component with a beautiful flash of color.  But lol...for now because we're feeding the 4.5 year old and the 18 month old...we're going with carrots.  Which the 18 month old didn't touch and the 4.5 year old had to be bribed to consume.  *sigh*  I've mentioned how much I love being a mother, right??

When I make this meal I purposefully make SO much of it that there is enough for leftovers for days and lunch for the Mister as much as he decides he wants it.  When I eat my dinner I take a bite of the chicken with a bite of the rice.  The two components together in every bite is almost...orgasmic.  When my Dad and Momma2 were here last month she asked for the recipe.  When my Momma and step dad were here the month before them...my Momma wanted the recipe.  Last year when our other folks were here, they wanted the recipe as well.  I don't think I've fed this meal to a single person that didn't want it again and didn't get the recipe before they left our home.  It is pretty addicting.  I'm not kiddin...it is almost 11pm as I am typing this out and I am convincing myself that it is "only 30 minutes" to make a batch of the rice and that it is totally doable....and I should just hurry up and go make a batch.  Man...I love that rice lol...  Hello my name is Foodnatic, and I am a Jamaicaholic...  One addiction I don't mind having.  I'll apologize now for getting you hooked. 

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