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Jerk Chicken and Rice & Peas

Jerk Chicken and Rice & Peas

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"The Real Jerk" is the popular Caribbean restaurant that the Jamaican-born authors Lily and Ed Pottinger opened 20 years ago in Toronto. Their cookbook, The Real Jerk: New Caribbean Cuisine includes easy recipes for all the favorite restaurant dishes, from Jerk Chicken and its many variations to Fried Flying Fish to Coconut Creams. Lily came by the show to introduce us to a few traditional Jamaican dishes - Jerk Chicken, Rice & Peas, and Fried Plantain.

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RECIPES:

THE REAL JERK SAUCE

The technique of jerking is thought to originate with the "Maroons," West, African slaves who escaped their Spanish masters to live in remote mountain areas of Jamaica. Later they fought the British, who arrived to re-colonize Jamaica after the Spanish left to search for gold in Central and South America. Because they were always on the fun, the Maroons devised a way of spicing and slow cooking pork. The meat was marinated in an exotic mixture of Scotch bonnet, peppers, pimento (allspice) berries, escallion, thyme, and other secret ingredients.

After marinating, the meat was cooked over an outdoor pit, about a foot deep. Charcoal from old, burned pimento trees was shovelled into the pit and then the pit was lined with fresh pimento wood. The low, sustained heat from the coals allowed the meat to cook slowly so that it lost little of its natural juices.

In the last two decades, "jerking" has taken the world by storm. There are scores of different jerk sauces and seasonings available in your local supermarkets, but there's nothing like homemade jerk sauce. The secret to the success of The Real Jerk restaurant, and all our jerk recipes, starts with our own jerk sauce. We are pleased to reveal our "secret" recipe with our customers and recipe.

1 lb Scotch bonnet peppers
1 small onion, chopped
3 stalks escallion, chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
3 tbsp salt
2 tbsp black pepper
2 tbsp whole pimento (allspice) berries
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce

In a food processor or blender, puree all ingredients until the sauce is coarse, yet, pourable.

Makes about 4 to 5 cups.

Scotch bonnet peppers are fiery little devils. Wear rubber gloves when seeding or chopping them. After handling, try not to touch your eyes or mouth, and wash your hands thoroughly. Also be careful not to inhale the fumes when you lift the lid off a food processor or blender.

JERK CHICKEN

Jerk chicken is a classic Jamaican dish, especially when served with hard-dough bread, Fried Dumplings, Festival, Roasted Breadfruit, or Rice & Peas.

3 lb chicken, cleaned and quartered
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
4 tbsp jerk sauce

Using a small knife, make two slits in each chicken quarter.
Season with salt, pepper, paprika, and jerk sauce.
Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or even overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and barbecue to 350 degrees F.
Place chicken in a roasting pan and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
Then transfer chicken to the barbecue and grill, turning chicken often, until it is cooked through.

Serves 6.

JERK CHICKEN WITH A BANG
In the early days of The Real Jerk, we did all the cooking. One day, I was alone in the restaurant, making my daily preparations, when I heard someone banging on the front door. When I went to investigate, I saw a young man, holding a briefcase, begging to be let in to eat some of our jerk chicken. Because it was two or three hours before opening, I didn't let him in. the banging continued. After fifteen minutes before opening I went back to the door to tell him to hang on. As I did, six police officers approached, their guns drawn. The man then pulled his own gun out of his briefcase, but the police were able to apprehend him before he was able to use it. In my shock and surprise, I asked if it was a real gun, to which one of the police officers replied: "It ain't jerk chicken." To this day, Ed and I often say, "Some people will do anything for jerk chicken." - L

RICE & PEAS

Rice & Peas (red kidney beans) is a traditional dish in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean. Coconut milk is a must when cooking this dish. When I was a child, I used to help select the coconut, then drink the water out of it, before breaking the coconut and grating the meat. Of course, by the time the whole process was completed, I'd eaten half the coconut! Today, I always try to cook in the traditional way, but with the fast pace of life, at home, I often use canned coconut milk.

4 cups water
1 19-oz can red kidney beans
2 cups coconut milk
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 stalks escallion, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme, chopped
2 tbsp margarine
1 whole Scotch bonnet pepper
3 cups uncooked white rice

In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring water to boil.
Add all ingredients except for the Scotch bonnet pepper and rice.
Boil for 15 minutes. Add scotch bonnet pepper and cook for another r2 minutes, then stir in rice.
Cover and steam for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove Scotch bonnet pepper before serving.

Serves 4 to 6.

To me, Sunday dinner without Rice & Peas served with Salted Pig Tails just wasn't Sunday dinner at all. Be adventurous and try this wonderful variation!

SALTED PIG TAILS

Buy pigtails at your local West Indies, Italian, or Portuguese market. Soak them in water overnight in the refrigerator to remove excess salt. Cut tails into 1" pieces before adding tails at the same time you add the beans. When trying this version, add salt to taste when cooking with peas.

FRIED PLANTAIN

If you have a sweet tooth, sprinkle the fried plantain with sugar or table syrup.

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 plantains, peeled and sliced lengthwise or in circles

In a large, heavy saucepan over high heat, fry plantain on both sides until golden brown.

Remove plantain from pan and place on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

Serves 4

PRESSED PLANTAIN

Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, pressed plantain makes a tasty side dish.

2 plantains, peeled and cut into 1" wide circles
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup corn oil
salt to taste

In a large bowl, cover plantains with slated hot water and let stand for 10 minutes.
Remove plantains from water, pat dry, and set aside.
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add plantains and saute, four pieces at a time, until light brown.
Remove from pan and place on paper towels to absorb excess oil.
Take a 24" length of wax paper and fold it in half.
Place plantains between wax paper, place a towel over top (so as not to burn your hands), and press. (You can also use a pop bottle to press the plantain).

Return pressed plantains to pan and fry until golden.
Remove and drain once more.
Sprinkle with salt before serving.

Serves 4.

Lily and Ed Pottinger are the proprietors of The Real Jerk, Toronto's premier Caribbean restaurant. They first opened the restaurant in 1984 and since then have consistently topped "favourite" and "best of" lists. Both Lily and Ed were born in Jamaica. Ed opened up a restaurant in Jamaica called "Little River Jerk" and Lily helped him run it. Lily followed Ed to Canada but left her bags unpacked for one year - not sure if she would be tempted to return to Jamaica. They lived in Milton and he worked for General Motors.They had a son, Troy but Ed was unhappy with his job and missed the restaurant business. He convinced Lily to help him run a new place "The Real Jerk" and started out using paper plates - every cent they made went back into the restaurant. It was a tough go at first - Torontonians weren't familiar with "jerk". They thought it was a Steve Martin movie... so they gave out food to people passing by and it caught on.

Visit Lily and Ed online at:
www.therealjerk.com

 

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