This week… Guys. This week has been taking crazy pills.
Within the course of seven days, I will have gone from staying up for 24+ hours for work-related reasons, to boarding a flight to France for cheese-eating-and-wine-drinking-related reasons. The latter is happening soon–I am leaving tomorrow, and right now I’m simultaneously packing, filling in gaps in our travel plans, deciding whether to return this dress, and trying to tell you about this chicken.
Chicken. Descended from dinosaurs and all slathered in delicious, spicy marinade, then blackened and crisped on the grill. I don’t know where the dinosaurs are, but they are proud.
It’s not “jerk chicken” in the most authentic sense of the word, and I won’t pretend otherwise. Real Jamaican jerk involves more than the correct spice mixture– the meat is typically cooked over charcoal and green pimento wood in used oil barrels (more traditionally) or on custom grills. So… Technically I haven’t had the real thing, because it’s highly unlikely that the real thing exists in North America.
Also, food makes me want to travel. (What up, Jamaica!)
Also, I don’t think serving it with salsa is authentic (beans and rice and plantains=more like it). However, I really really like freshening up something hot, spicy and crispy with something sweetish, mellow, crunchy and fresh.
So yes, the only authentic part of all this is the marinade–and it is a damn fine marinade.
First up, the heat! Do not touch habaneros with your bare hands, or you might die (true facts I made up).
In addition to the heat, there’s warmth (totally different from heat) from cinnamon and allspice, brightness from lime juice, herbal thyme and the savory saltiness of soy sauce. Oh, and brown sugar. It’s quite the balancing act.
It is a combination of many ingredients, but the process is dead simple. It goes like this:
…And things are temporarily unappetizing. If you just bear with me for a second, we’ll get right back on the “looks delicious” train.
(Ew, why am I even showing you this?)
But first, let’s make salsa. Any kind of melon would be great here–a combination of honeydew and cantaloupe would be especially pretty. I didn’t want to buy another melon, though, and nature hasn’t invented a honeyloupe hybrid (despite the earnest letter I wrote).
There’s no such thing as salsa without onion. Also cilantro and lime… And mint just because it plays so nicely with honeydew.
Lime in the marinade, lime in the salsa, lime everywhere.
Oh, look. We have salsa now!
I told you things would get appetizing again, real quick. Check out the smoke!
Your summertime dinner is served. Hot and cool, like aloe on a sunburn, except this burn feels gooooood. (And honestly, I think it’s important to note that the chicken isn’t all that spicy, at least I don’t think so. Just in case you had concerns.)
Any other concerns? I mean, really.
So yes, I will be gone for a couple of weeks, but! I will prepost at least one post, hopefully two, for your pretty faces so that this isn’t a complete radio-silence zone. I really hate when that happens.
In the meantime, if you do care to keep up with my adventures in France and Belgium, I’ll be on the Twitters and the Instagrams (honestly, more Instagram than Twitter). And you’d better believe I’ll have lots of fun pictures (and hopefully stories) to share when I get back! Cheers!
- 3 scallions, chopped coarse
- 4 large garlic cloves
- 1 small onion, chopped coarse
- 4 -5 fresh habaneros, stemmed and seeded
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1.5 to 2 lbs skin-on, bone-in chicken (I used four leg quarters)
- 2 cups diced honeydew
- 1/4 a red onion, diced finely
- Juice of one lime
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 tbsp fresh chopped mint
- Generous pinch of salt
- To make jerk marinade, combine all of the ingredients under "for chicken" except for the chicken (obviously) in a blender or food processor until smooth.
- Place chicken in a sealable plastic bag, dump in the marinade, squeeze out extra air, seal and marinate in the fridge for 24 hours, turning the bag occasionally.
- Before grilling chicken, let it get to room temperature for about an hour. Preheat grill to high, then lower to moderate. Grill chicken until well browned on all sides, 15 to 20 minutes, then adjust to low, cover grill lid, and grill until cooked through, about 25 minutes more.
- To make salsa, combine all ingredients. Serve chicken topped with salsa--serves 4.