Jerk Chicken & Jamaican Rice and Peas

One of the last produce items we bought from our local farmer was a pair of habeneros. These little lantern-shaped peppers are some of the hottest in the world, rated between 100,000 and 350,000 Scoville units! Now, compare that to a jalapeno which weighs in between 6,000 and 8,500 Scoville units! Wow, that’s hot, isn’t it? Still, for all their bite, they’re also floral and add a definite flavor that’s hard to duplicate without their help.

A side note on super-hot chiles… I’ve had the pleasure of having ghost chile verde made by a chef friend of mine in Stockton. Amazingly potent yet incredibly delicious stuff! Miner’s Cafe in Stockton, Utah, is one of the very few places in Utah where you can get a dish made from ghost chiles – currently the hottest pepper around at 900,000+ SHU. If you can take the heat, go for it!

When I saw them, I couldn’t resist – I’ve wanted to make jerk chicken from scratch for some time now. Of course, what Jamaican main would be complete without one of Jamaica’s most famous rice dishes, rice and peas, alongside? Luckily, I found a recipe that would use the rest of the habenero and incorporate coconut milk for cooling off that hot pepper.

I’m so so pleased with this one. My husband raved about the combination! The two recipes get along beautifully and a bit of fresh pineapple ties it all together. It’s not too spicy either – my Spicy Stirfry was actually hotter. Maybe the habenero I used wasn’t that hot? Or maybe, this meal is just too good. Next time, I plan to use a bit more to bring the heat up a bit.

Though habeneros are a bit scary to handle (see my warning below) and the list of spices is extremely lengthy, don’t let that stop you from trying this. I absolutely loved this dinner and am looking forward to having the leftovers for lunch after this post is up. This is definitely going into our rotation!

Be careful when handling habeneros! They are some of the hottest chiles on the planet and if you get pepper juice in your eyes, you WILL regret it, trust me. Wear gloves and use caution.

Jerk Chicken [printable recipe]

Adapted from Kitchen Sense
Serves 4

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped1
  • olive oil
  • fresh or canned pineapple

Marinade:

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 habenero pepper2, stemmed, seeded (aka Scotch bonnet)
  • 2 – 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried mustard
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz) cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz) lime juice
  • 2 tbsp (1 oz) lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp (1 oz) olive oil
  • 2 tbsp ketchup

Combine all of the ingredients for the marinade in a food processor3. Pulse until you get a smooth puree. Place all of the chicken into a ziptop bag or a non-reactive container, then pour the marinade over. Stir it gently to coat all of the pieces and let it marinate for between 1 and 24 hours. (Overnight is ideal.)

Dump the chicken and its marinade into a strainer or colander set in the sink and let stand for 10 minutes so the excess marinade can drip off.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces. Cook until done. Serve over Jamaican Rice & Peas with a side of fresh pineapple.

According to the original, the chicken keeps well for up to a week in the fridge and is excellent cold. I liked this too much to let it sit around!

Notes:

  1. Or, use some combination of chicken parts to your taste. If using bone-in, I strongly recommend grilling them instead and using the excess marinade to baste the chicken as it cooks.
  2. If you’re sensitive to heat, try using a jalapeno or a serrano instead. Or, if you like it spicy, add more! I thought this could have used a bit more heat myself.
  3. I use the Ninja MasterPrep which has a 2-cup workbowl. I love it to death. If your mini-prep can’t do 2 cups of liquid, you’ll need to use a full-size processor.

. . . . .

The “peas” in Jamaican Rice and Peas refers to any type of legume, usually kidney beans or cowpeas. I used black beans in mine because that’s what I had in the freezer.

Can you really freeze beans? Absolutely! We cook our beans from scratch either on the stove or in a slow cooker. When they’re done and cool, we spread them out in a single layer on a sheet pan and freeze them. Then they can go into a big ziptop freezer bag for later use.

A can of beans is equal to about 1 1/2 cups of cooked beans. Incredibly handy, delicious and cheaper too!

Jamaican Rice & Peas [printable recipe]

Food & Wine 2009 Annual Cookbook
Serves 4

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 1 1/2 cups jasmine or long-grain rice (2 “rice” cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups (OR 1 14 oz can drained and rinsed) black-eyed peas, kidney beans or black beans
  • 1/4 habenero pepper, stemmed, seeded (aka Scotch bonnet)
  • 1 13.5-14 oz can of light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a rice cooker, stirring well to combine. Cook on regular white rice cycle until done. Remove the habenero and fluff rice. Serve.

No Rice Cooker?

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan. Cook the onion, ginger and garlic until softened, then add the rice, stirring to coat well. Add the beans, habenero, coconut milk and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until all of the liquid has been absorbed – about 18 – 20 minutes. Remove from heat, remove the habenero and fluff. Serve.

Posted in chicken, dairy-free, gluten-free, other, recipes, rice, untranslated | Leave a comment

Spicy Stirfry

I have a hard time justifying posting stirfry recipes. I’ve been making stirfries since I began cooking for myself and usually my sauces consist of whatever I throw together to match what I want in my head. There’s no measuring, no tasting, I rely on scent to tell me if I’ve gotten it right. It works for me.

Sometimes I actually read stirfry recipes, but usually avoid any that are hardcore on veggies or protein – you can quite easily throw half the fridge at a stirfry and be happy with the results. It, with its sister fried rice, are the ultimate leftover-users.

The biggest thing I have to be careful of is the sauce. I’ve made certain base sauces so often that I don’t always remember to be actually creative. That’s when I turn to recipes, to those that give some basic sauce variations that I can play around with.

The other night, my husband asked me to make a spicy stirfry. He wanted something with some heat to it, not too much, but lots of flavor too. It had to use a pepper of some sort and use up the last of the carrot and leek.

I decided to look around and found an older formula for sauces from Food Network Magazine that I’d clipped for just such an occasion. That afternoon, we’d picked up a bunch of random peppers at the end of the harvest season, so I had a new pepper to try out – a pimento. It sounded just right.

By the way, I’m incredibly sad because the day I wrote this, the last produce of the season was procured from our local Tooele farmer. (Well, his house is in Tooele, along with his farm stand on Main, but he farms 8 acres in Grantsville.) We won’t see more until mid-June.

Now I’m going to give you the recipe for basically what I put together, with the understanding that you won’t necessarily follow it to the letter. Throw in the veggies you have, even if all you have is a bag of frozen stir-fry mix (hey I like those especially in the winter when there’s nothing good on the shelf). Likewise, use the protein you have – from tofu to beef. There’s no reason not to, it will all be good.

Because damn this came out well. Really really well. It was just the right amount of spicy for us with plenty of sauce to make the rice a wonderful foil. The sauce isn’t difficult to put together, even if it seems like a lot of ingredients.

Spicy Stirfry [printable recipe]

Inspired by a recipe found in Food Network Magazine

  • 3/4 lb meat, thinly sliced, or tofu of some variety, cubed
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 smallish onion, sliced vertically
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 2 cups grated cabbage
  • 5 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 pimento pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp peanuts, finely chopped
  • salt
  • oil

Sauce

  • 3/4 cup chicken [or veggie, mushroom, lobster, whatever] stock
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp palm sugar, grated if necessary (if unavailable, substitute brown)
  • 1 tsp chili paste (sambal oelek)

Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Combine protein with 1 tsp cornstarch in another bowl.

In a large skillet or wok, heat some oil over medium-high heat. Add protein and cook, stirring often, until nicely browned. Remove and add to sauce.

Add a little more oil if necessary to the pan and start with the onions. When they’re tender and turning brown on the edges, add green onions, garlic and ginger. Stir constantly to keep them from burning for about a minute. Add veggies in order of cooking time. (For this: pepper, leek, carrot, cabbage.) Cook until everything is happily crisp-tender and ready. If you need some liquid to keep things happily frying, add a tablespoon or two of the sauce.

Add sauce and protein. Stir frequently until thickened. It’ll take a few minutes. Serve over rice. Garnish with chopped peanuts or sesame seeds.

Posted in asian, dairy-free, gluten-free, Meat, recipes, untranslated, vegan, vegetable, vegetarian | Leave a comment

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

Wow! I’ve been featured in my town’s local newspaper, the Tooele Transcript! I’m really surprised and quite honored. The print edition has me on both front and back pages of the Hometown section – quite a bit of press for this little blogger.

Click here to read the article.

Posted in local, off-topic, untranslated | 2 Comments

Welcome!

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by! If you’re new here, don’t forget to bookmark me or sign up for new post alerts via RSS or Email. You can even have new posts directly delivered to your Kindle or Kindle application, thanks to Amazon.

If you’re here because of the profile on me in today’s Tooele Transcript, you might be interested to know that I’ll be doing a review series on our local restaurants over the next several months.

A big, heartfelt thank you to all of my readers who helped me get here. I couldn’t have, and wouldn’t have, come this far without you. Cheers!

Posted in local, off-topic | Comments Off on Welcome!

Stuffed Acorn Squash

I’m so happy that winter squash are making their way back into stores. Prices are low this year on them, so it must have been a good year for growing — I don’t remember acorn squash starting out at 68c each last year!

Winter squash store extremely well. If you find a sale, buy a bunch and put them somewhere cool and dry. Garages and laundry rooms often are good places to store squash. As long as the rinds are hard, you have nothing to worry about.

Preparing acorn squash is pretty straightforward – it’s just as with pumpkins. Chop in half, scoop out the seeds and remember, the rind isn’t really good eats.

I came up with this the other week because we have a bushel of apples to use, squash tempting me every time I walk by it and crisp fall weather at last. It’s easy and delicious.

Stuffed Acorn Squash [printable recipe]

Serves 2 with leftovers

  • 1 medium acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 leek, light green and white parts only, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 8 “Lil’ Smokies” or 2 bratwurst or other sausage, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked rice (from 3/4 cup dried rice)2
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or other nuts, toasted if desired
  • 2 tbsp pepitas (roasted, hulled pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin1
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • butter or oil
  • shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.

Scoop out the squash halves so there is about 1/2″ remaining flesh on the rind. Finely chop the excess squash and remove to a small bowl. Rub a bit of butter (or olive oil, if you prefer) all over the insides, season with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove to cool slightly.

While the squash bakes, heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet and saute the leek until tender. Add the garlic, spices, apple, leftover squash and sausage, continue to cook until sausage and squash are nicely cooked. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Combine sausage-apple mixture with the cooked rice, pepitas and walnuts. Stuff the squash halves (if you have leftovers, just serve it on the side later) and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for another 15 minutes or until cheese is browned.

Notes:

  1. My husband suggested a spice blend similar to Indian-style rice. However, you can use just about any combo of spices you really like.
  2. I used my favorite Jasmine rice, but brown would be excellent here as well. Other grains, like bulgur or quinoa, would also be good.
  3. This will probably make more stuffing that the squash needs, but it’s good on its own, so I just serve some on the side or save it for lunch the next day.

Posted in american, recipes | Leave a comment

New Site Feature! Clip Posts to Evernote

I’ve been using Evernote for a while now to save all the great recipes I come across as I browse the web. Sometimes that’s challenging because clipping often grabs everything else on the page too and I wind up carefully selecting the text I want to clip rather than saving full web pages.

Now, every post of mine has a Clip icon (see the little green elephant at the bottom?) that will allow you to grab just that post. You can even see all the posts you’ve snagged from here when you click to Clip in the little box that pops up so you can save your Clip to any of your notebooks, assign tags and add a note for yourself. Really convenient, I think.

If you’re not a member of Evernote, no worries! You can create a basic, free account* in seconds when you Clip. You can clip just about anything and access it almost anywhere. I scan a lot of recipes from magazines because Evernote will OCR the images and make them searchable.

I hope you find this as useful as I do!

* Full disclosure: If you sign up later for a premium account, I do receive a small bonus.

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On Peaches and Problems

Not every recipe will be successful.

This one was saved by the peaches and the vanilla that managed to bring it through even despite the problems. I don’t often talk about failures here, part because failures are only interesting to read for so long and part because I like to put recipes up that work, that I love and want to enjoy again with friends. But, I made a promise that I would talk about what happened to those peaches and this is that story.

A friend of a friend offered me some peaches from her mini-orchard of five peach trees (!!) and wondered what I would opt to do with them. At the time, I had no idea – there are so many wonderful ways to use peaches! It would depend on how many and the size before I could decide.

Now, my favorite thing to do with peaches is turn them into Easy Peach Freezer Jam. (I still don’t do hot-water canning! For some reason, that just scares me. Maybe next year.) But I’ve already put up two batches and there’s enough peach jam in the freezer for the winter.

Another option was to make the open-faced Peach Galette from last year. It was fantastic, plus since it only needs two peaches, it might be just the thing to use up any leftovers.

One factor that also played into my decision was the packet of 30 Tahitian vanilla beans that had just arrived at my door, courtesy of Vanilla Products on eBay. Now, I know what you’re thinking – vanilla beans off ebay?? They are wonderful. Clear explanations, 100% positive feedback over thousands of transactions and primo product. I’m very happy with the beans I received and am looking forward to many happy hours making desserts that were never an option due to lack of real beans.

Peach and vanilla go hand-in-hand, especially in pie, so with five ripe peaches and a packet of beans fresh from the mailbox, it had to be pie. Plus, not only have I not made one yet this year, I’ve never actually made a traditional American peach pie before. It’s old-hat to folks in peach country, but for me, it’s all new.

To make any peach dessert, you almost always have to remove the peel first. This is still easy, but it does take a little bit of time.

How to Peel Peaches Cut an “x” into the bottom of each peach, then bring a big pot of water to a boil and dunk them in for 30 seconds each. Then, remove them to an ice bath, also known as shocking, to stop the peaches from cooking. The peels should then easily slip and slide right off.

Sounds easy, right? Guess what, it is with one caveat: the peaches MUST BE RIPE. I had a bag of peaches earlier this summer that weren’t quite ripe and I fought those damn things every step of the way, from getting the peels off to getting the stone out. If they’re ripe, really, truly, actually ripe and not ripened simply with ethylene gas, everything will proceed quickly and easily.

I found my favorite pie crust recipe and printed out yet another copy to pin on the fridge while I worked. I carefully pushed it into place in the new-to-me ceramic pie/tart dish I found and turned my attention to the peaches.

I had just enough peaches, about 2 to 2 1/4 pounds, for the recipe I had in mind. Or should I say, recipes, since I was riffing on at least three different ones to create the final filling. I blanched and shocked, rubbing the peels off with my thumb carefully and then cutting each into little bite-size chunks.

Traditionally, both peach and apple pies call for sliced fruit instead of chopped fruit. I opted to chop instead to make it easier to remove from the pan and eat. I never seem to get a clean slice with sliced fruit!

The peaches were tossed with a tablespoon of lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom, a dash of cloves, the seeds from one vanilla bean and two tablespoons of tapioca starch. Why tapioca? One, it was more accessible in the pantry than cornstarch and two, I like how tapioca sets up cleanly. I added a splash of milk and a pinch of brown sugar for extra flavor.

I patted it all into place, the vanilla’s scent wafting up delightfully. My whole pantry smells like vanilla, did you know? Even though they’re wrapped in three freezer bags, I can still smell it faintly in the air when I open the doors.

Problem is, my “pie” looked kinda bare. I didn’t want to make another pie crust, so I opted for streusel, my favorite pie topping.

Now we get to the reason why you’re not seeing photos or a true recipe on this post: I tried a recipe from Southern Living and it failed miserably. The crust and pie filling came out beautifully but the streusel damn near ruined it.

I’m not sure if the recipe from Southern Living was off by not including any kind of fat, or if I put too much on, even after cutting it by half and not even using all of what I made or even if I failed to cook it long enough. The upper layer of the topping was basically raw, though most of it was cooked through.

In the end, it was all eaten and, once you took off some of the raw streusel, it was actually pretty darn tasty. Next year, when peaches come into season again, I’ll try again, but next time, I’m thinking a traditional crust for the top instead. I’m not eager to repeat the great raw streusel experiment again!

Posted in american, pie | 2 Comments