Jerk Chicken

Jerk Chicken (7942)

These past few days have been good. The clearing process of our extra bedroom in preparation for our very special guest next month is almost in full swing. I say almost because it’s really kind of stop-and-go. Tuesday was my most productive day so far. I cleaned, cleared, swept, mopped, dusted and my vanity area now smells of perfume – in the bad sense though! I was so tired by the end of the day as I am right now after an intense baking and photography session that I broke a perfume bottle. It flew right across the furniture, over my head and onto the floor. Boo. Glad to say it wasn’t anything expensive but it was a gift and still I was a bit upset. Those bottles are resilient though – I’m truly impressed. I don’t know anything about their manufacturing process but the bottle just cracked in half. There was a minimal amount of glass shards in the end so there were no unfortunate accidents, thank goodness. However the smell…woah…it has been making me dizzy and no amount of cleaner has made the smell dissipate. It’s still there and still going strong. How my insides felt this morning as I woke up I really cannot describe.

So back to our clearing-for-the-guest situation. I’m happy to say things are looking up. While this is going on, I’m currently thinking about recipes I can conjure up during those days, when most probably I will be out all day (yay!) I want to cook and eat a variety of quick, easy but still delicious foods with minimal preparation. It’s no use trying new stuff that week. This chicken recipe is just the ticket – or one of the tickets – when you don’t know where your day has disappeared. I made this for the first time ages ago, and it’s been quite a while since I revisited it. I’m so behind on this blog you wouldn’t believe. Before I start singing its praises, please note that you still need to marinade the chicken pieces preferably a day before in the fridge. If you forget don’t fret (apologies for the rhyme). Sometimes it just happens and preparing it a few hours before is good enough. The quantities of spices is totally up to you. These amounts are just about right for me, considering I’m the type who plays it safe most of the time. I do love that kick though occasionally.

The za’atar my brother-in-law got me from the Middle East is just wonderful, but dried thyme is a good substitute. Some finicky people will comment on how this is not ‘real’ Jerk chicken. I like to deviate from strict rules and I cannot deny my Mediterranean roots.

I served this with some rice with roasted veggies; usually it’s with things I happen to have in the fridge that day. I only have the recipe for the chicken in this post but I have some suggestions and options for the rice. It’s always handy to have a packet each of frozen peas and corn too. These past few weeks I cannot stop myself from buying loads of yellow peppers, fresh garlic and parsley. I think they make everything taste better. But really, you can use whatever you like. The following feeds 4 people, with a side of course.

For the marinade:

  • 2 fresh chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2 handfuls of fresh garlic, washed, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons za’atar or dried thyme
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • regular olive oil

For browning the chicken:

  • 4 large chicken legs or breasts, skin on and scored on the diagonal
  • olive oil, for frying
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

To serve with:

  • cooked basmati rice

To prepare the marinade, mix together the chillies, cloves, fresh garlic, spices, pepper and olive oil in a small bowl. Score the chicken pieces with a sharp knife and rub the marinade into the meat. Place the chicken in a  spill-proof glass dish, cover and leave it in the fridge, preferably overnight or at least for a couple of hours. The more you leave it, the better the result, especially if you’re cooking with chicken breasts.

Preheat the oven to 220ºC/Gas mark 7. Add a tablespoon of regular olive oil in an ovenproof pan and fry the chicken pieces over medium to high heat for around 10 minutes on all sides. Pour in the Worcestershire sauce and cook for a further minute. If you don’t have an ovenproof dish to hand to use on the stove, use a shallow frying pan first, then transfer the meat to whatever dish you will use for the oven.

Cover the pan with an ovenproof lid or some kitchen foil and place in the oven for around 15 to 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and all the juices run clear. Cook uncovered for another 5 minutes for the meat to turn a lovely dark golden colour.

Rob.

(Recipe loosely adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cooking Course, Hodder & Stoughton, 2012.)

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