Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Country IV: Jamaica

When I decided on cooking Jamaican food, Jerk Chicken immediately came to mind. I had actually never had said chicken, so I decided, even though it was cliche, to make it. But I didn't want to just make one thing, cause, um, that would be blah. So I searched and roamed the internet for a traditional side dish, and came up with Festival, a deep-fried sweet bread. I LOVE fried food, and I thought that fried bread sounded quite scrumptious, so voila, I had my Jamaican line-up.
Now, the Jerk Chicken recipe I found called for a whole boneless chicken. I could not find a whole boneless chicken. I could, however, find a whole bone-in chicken. Which meant of course, that I would be needing to cut up this bone-in chicken. Yay, I thought, an adventure. I just love those...
Well, I defrost the thing for a good full day and then slap it down on my cutting board and stare at it. I just stared for a while. I've never cut up a whole chicken before. I knew that I could easily find those instruction things on the internet, but everybody knows things like this are much funnier when you don't use them. So I began.

After ripping off the wings and drumsticks, I started removing the thighs. I only ended up with one in the end, because I kind of broke the bone in the other one in half and ruined it quite nicely. The only part left was getting the chicken breasts off in one piece (yes, your mind is in the gutter).
Oh, yeah, I also discovered a huge frozen chunk of guts in the cavity of my chicken. That was fun. I guess I should have given a warning that neither of these recipes are good for those people who don't like to get their hands dirty. Of course, I don't think those people should be in the kitchen in the first place, but that's just me.
Anyway, I figured out how to carefully slice the chicken breast meat off the rib bones so that I ended up with boneless, skinless breasts. There, enough about chicken boobs. Here's what my cold, slimy adventure turned out as:

Right, now the only thing left was to create the jerk marinade. Another recipe with a huge list of ingredients. I seemed to have a penchant for those. In spite of the large amount of ingredients however, it's super easy to put together.

Basically you chop up your garlic (a lot of it) and your onion, and throw them in with the rest of the ingredients in a blender, like so:

Blend it all up till pretty smooth. Unless you have a super blender from space, there will be little tiny chunks in the marinade. No big deal. Now, put your cut up chicken in a heavy duty resealable plastic bag and dump the marinade over it. Put it in the fridge overnight.

After it's done marinating, just throw it in a 9 x 13 pan, or whatever you happen to have, and put it in the oven at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Then flip the chicken pieces over and cook another 30 minutes. Then eat it. Or wait for it to cool a little, then eat it. By the way, this recipe will make your kitchen smell amazing!
Now for this delicious fried bread I was talking about. Again, a super easy recipe, but not for people who are afraid of getting gunk on their hands.
Not a whole lot of ingredients:

Combine all the ingredients except the water and vanilla in a bowl. Then pour the vanilla into the water. Add the water mix a little at a time to the flour mixture (I did it by tablespoonfuls) and muddle it up together with your fingertips. It will stick to your fingers and be hard to get off. It's all part of the experience of home cooking :) Keep adding water until you end up with just a slightly sticky dough that looks like this:

Cover it up and let it sit for 30 minutes. After that, divide the dough into eight pieces and shape each piece into a little loaf. While you're doing that, heat up some oil to 350 degrees in a big pot or deep fryer if you've got one.

Fry the little loaves of yumminess for about 5 minutes, until they are golden brown. I got mine a little dark, since my oil decided to get a little hotter than I wanted it, but they were still amazing, and Erich thought that's how they were supposed to be, so it was all good in the end.

And so there is Jamaica night. I'm definitely counting this one as a success.

Jerk Chicken
1 3.5 lb whole chicken (I used bone-in)
3 sliced scotch bonnet peppers (I couldn't find any, so I just used 4 whole green chilies)
1 Tbsp. thyme
1 Tbsp. ground allspice
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large onions, chopped
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
3/4 tsp. each: ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground ginger
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
Juice of 1/2 lime (I didn't have any, so I substituted lemon, and it worked fine)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup white vinegar

Blend all ingredients (excluding chicken of course) in a blender to make a sauce. Cut chicken into pieces. Put chicken and sauce in a large resealable plastic bag with sauce and marinade over night. Place chicken in a 9 x 13 pan (saving marinade for basting if desired) and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, then turn chicken pieces over and bake 30 more minutes.

1.5 cups flour
3 Tbsp. cornmeal
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Sieve flour into a bowl and stir in cornmeal, salt, sugar and baking powder. Add the vanilla to the water.
Add a small amount of water into the flour mixture, working it in with your fingertips. Keep adding small amounts of water to the mixture. When half the up of water has been added, the mixture should resemble coarse crumbs. Add water until mixture becomes a firm dough that is only slightly sticky (you should not need the whole cup). If dough gets too sticky add a little flour. Cover dough and let stand 30 minutes. Divide into 8 portions. Knead each piece and form into a small, thick loaf shape. Deep fry in oil at about 350 degrees until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

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