We’re back! You may have noticed that we’ve taken a lengthy hiatus from Rampant Cuisine but don’t worry! Our lack of posts is not because we’ve abandoned our cooking and pairing endeavors but because we’ve been traveling to Jamaica to celebrate our 2nd anniversary and then attending our friends’ wedding in Roanoke, VA last weekend.
Now that we’re back in town and back in the kitchen we wanted to try making our favorite Jamaican dishes at home! The following meal is our take on some traditional Jamaican staples: Jerk Chicken, Rice and Peas (Beans!) and kale braised in coconut milk. The jerk chicken recipes that we found in our research all called for at least two whole habanero peppers so we used two thinking we were staying on the safe side. Oh…my…goodness. First of all, Habanero peppers burn EVERYTHING. Nathan made the mistake of wiping his nose and eyes and my hand felt like it was on fire for the entire evening. Second of all…two peppers was too much! Nathan and I like spicy food but we both agreed that this was over the top spicy. One pepper would definitely be enough!
But let’s face it folks… this is what Nathan and I are here for! We light our balcony on fire and put habanero in our eyeballs so that you won’t make the same mistakes as us! Ok, maybe those things were only Nathan but still, please learn from our foibles and enjoy some tasty jerk chicken that doesn’t melt your face off.
This wine was the perfect pairing for this meal! It was super light, refreshing, citrusy, and it momentarily doused the small pepper-shaped flames leaping on our tongues. This is a wine I would buy again since it’s ideal for hot summer days…zesty and crisp with a hint of pear and a clean finish. Word to the budget conscious: this wine was only $6.99 and was a Wine Enthusiast Magazine Best Buy for 2011. It tasted way more expensive than it was…gotta love that!
I had a great opportunity to try red stripe in copious amounts on our vacation to Jamaica. Considering Red Stripe and Red Stripe Light were the only beers at the resort it wasn’t exactly a hard decision. They even had a self serve Red Stripe keg on tap ON the beach… it was glorious. That being said, Red Stripe is perfect for the climate and food in Jamaica because it is light, refreshing, and washes down all that spicy chicken and fish! On its own however it has little flavor or aroma to speak of and is definitely most enjoyable in the aforementioned beach setting or when sitting down to a spicy meal.
(Here is a picture of the self serve beer tap right next to the self serve soft serve ice cream ON the beach!)
Jamaican Jerk Chicken:
1 scallion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
½ small onion, chopped
1 fresh Scotch bonnet or habanero chile, stemmed and seeded
1 ½ Tbs. fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
¾ tablespoon salt
½ tablespoon packed brown sugar
½ tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Blend all marinade ingredients in a blender until smooth.
Cut chicken breasts into strips and put chicken and marinade in sealable plastic bag. Seal bag, pressing out excess air, then turn bag over several times to distribute marinade. Put bag of chicken in a shallow pan and marinate, chilled, turning once or twice, 1 day.
Let chicken stand at room temperature 1 hour before cooking.
Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat until the pan is very hot. Spray pan with cooking spray and cook chicken for several minutes on each side until it is cooked through.
Jamaican Rice and Beans:
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup long-grain rice
½ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
½ cup water
½ cup chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian option)
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ whole Scotch bonnet chile, seeded
Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 4-5 minutes, until they begin to brown on the edges.
Add the garlic and rice, stir well and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
Add the grated ginger, salt, water, stock and coconut milk and stir well. Add the kidney beans and sprinkle the thyme over everything. Add the whole Scotch bonnet chile (or habanero); it will season the rice much like a bay leaf would. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat to low and cover.
The rice should be done in about 15-20 minutes, depending on the type of rice you are using (some long grained rice takes longer to cook). Check after 15 minutes. Once done, remove from heat and cover for 10 minutes. To serve, fluff with a fork. Sprinkle with a little lime juice if you want. Discard the habanero.
Jamaican Braised Kale:
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 onion, diced
1 (1 pound) bunch kale, chopped
¼ cup coconut milk
¼ cup chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large saute pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened, 5 to 8 minutes. Add kale and saute until it wilts and combines with the onion. Add coconut milk and broth and continue to cook until kale softens, another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.