food for thought

by michelle

jerk chicken + coconut rice and beans

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I haven’t tried much Jamaican food but a newly found appreciation of all things cooked over coal led to this delicious meal. Jerk is a style of cooking in which meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a very hot spice mixture which always includes allspice (pimento in Jamaica) and Scotch bonnet chillies. We used Tasting Tables’s recipe.


To make the jerk marinade, in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle coarsely grind 1 tablespoon of allspice berries and 1 tablespoon of whole black peppercorns. Transfer to a food processor with 4 to 6 whole Scotch Bonnet chillies, 6 roughly chopped scallions, 1 large shallot, 1 peeled and roughly chopped thumb-sized piece of ginger, 6 large cloves of garlic, 3 tablespoons of dark brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves, 2 tablespoons of finely grated lime zest, 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, ½ a teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg and 2 teaspoons of salt. Blend or process until smooth. Place 4 whole chicken legs (or pieces of your choice) and the marinade into large ziploc bags or a container with a good lid and make sure all the chicken is coated with marinade.Refrigerate the chicken for at least 4 or up to 36 hours (we did ours for 24). When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the refrigerator, wiping off any excess marinade. Transfer to a plate and let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour before cooking. Meanwhile prepare a charcoal grill for indirect grilling at 180ºC (350ºF). Arrange the chicken skin-side up on the grate, with the legs pointing toward the heat source. Cover and cook the chicken undisturbed, adding more charcoal as needed to maintain the temperature for 50 – 60 minutes or until a thermometer reads 65ºC (150ºF) to 68ºC (155ºF). Uncover the grill and drop a handful of allspice berries and some bay leaves onto the charcoal. Once they begin to smoke, transfer the chicken to the hot side of the grill and continue to cook, flipping often, until the skin is lightly charred and crisp and the temperature reads 74ºC (165ºF). Transfer to a work surface and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with lime wedges.

Coconut rice and beans are also traditional Jamaican fare.


To make coconut rice and beans heat some oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 finely chopped onion and cook until softened and lightly coloured. Add 1½ cups of long-grain rice and stir for 30 seconds to coat the grains. Add 2 cups water, a can of coconut milk, 1 can of rinsed and drained kidney beans, 1 Scotch Bonnet chilli, 3 spring onions, a sprig of fresh thyme, 3 whole peeled and bruised garlic cloves, some freshly ground black pepper and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer then cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes or until rice is cooked.


Written by michelle picker

September 28, 2015 at 5:48 am

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