There is a craze at the moment for celebrating food that is, essentially, American. American food, like British Cuisine, is heavily influenced by the immigration of people from every possible country, background, ethnicity, faith and varying degrees of wealth or poverty.
Those who found themselves with little wealth but much poverty didn’t have a whole lot of food to play around with and not necessarily of great quality. That is to say, the challenge of making basic ingredients tasty; and in order to make it so there is a surprising amount of care, love, attention and TIME that goes into making these tasty morsels to our plates! Think marinading, rubs, sauces; think pulled pork, pit roasts, smoking and BBQing. Think that the best things come to those who wait! This food trend is generally known as Dirty Food because it’s rustic, generally dishelleved looking (the antipathy of Feyne Deyning) but no less full of flavour and a joy to savour!
Pulled pork, deep fried home-style chicken and slow smoked brisket being among my favourites from this Dirty Food category, none quite peaks my taste buds more than an honest to goodness, blow your socks off jerk chicken! The recipe below comes from the almost entirely fabulous cookbook “Dirty Food” by Carol Hilker (can be purchased HERE). If, when on your own epicurean travels, you come across a recipe that works perfectly then don’t touch it! This is exactly the case here! My only suggestions to try and modestly improve on perfection are where the book recipe is for a quarter chicken skin on I advocate an altogether faster BBQ cook and therefore suggest to use breast of chicken cut in small pieces and skewered. Oh, and I also insist that the chicken stay soaking in the marinade for 24 hours and no less!
Ingredients: (will make apx 20 skewers):
For the Marinade
2 tblsp ground allspice
2 tsp dried thyme
3 tsp of cayenne pepper
3 tsp of ground black pepper
3 tsp dried sage
1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
2 tblsp sugar
8 tblsp olive oil
8 tblsp soy sauce
350ml white vinegar
250ml freshly squeezed orange juice
freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes
2 Habanero / Scotch Bonnet chillies, finely chopped
6 spring onions finely chopped
1 large red onion finely chopped
20 garlic cloves finely chopped or minced
9 chicken breast cut into small cubes
A BBQ / Charcoal Grill
Using a mini processor, whizz up the chillies, spring onions, red onions and garllic cloves until all very finely chopped.
In a very large bowl, places all of the wet and dry ingredients together and mix well.
Add in the chopped up fresh ingredients and mix well again to fully combine.
Add in the chopped up chicken meat.
Cover the bowl very well with cling film (it’s highly pungent, so a double wrapping of cling film will keep most of the flavours contained in the bowl and not hanging around your fridge!)
Place in your fridge for 24 hours – no less!
An hour or so before you wish to cook the chicken, soak a handful of bamboo skewers in a glass of water. This ensures the chicken skewers easily and also prevents them from burning on the BBQ.
Slide 5 or 6 pieces of marinaded chicken on each skewer.
Place on a slightly cooled BBQ, turn and baste regularly with a remained of the jerk marinade.
The chicken should be well cooked through within 10 minutes, but this will depend on the size of the chicken pieces and the temperature of the BBQ. Try not to overcook them as they could go dry.
If you wish, boil up some of the remainder marinade on a high heat for about 5 minutes and serve as a dipping sauce.
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