Dog days of summer and no one wants to cook…but I do! Even though I work full time, am a mother of a very active 2 year old boy, and participate in various extracurricular activities, I still want to put a home cooked meal on my family’s table as often as possible. Many times that includes lots of prep beforehand. Lately, I had been craving some Caribbean food and needed to tap back into those roots – plus the hubs had been hinting. Soooo, I decided to make jerk chicken this week!
The smell of jerk alone draws me in. It’s so flavorful and that extra kick of spice that hits your nose and then your tongue will have you hooked! You can create your own rub or you can buy a pre-made one at the grocer or in a Caribbean specialty store. For me Walkerswood and Grace have the best flavor. Use them to season the chicken in advance and let it marinate overnight. Smoking your chicken in the grill achieves the greatest, most authentic flavor; however, you can also roast it in the oven. Either way, it’ll be so juicy and you will taste every spice!
What did I serve on the side – rice and peas along with a cabbage medley. Rice and peas is a traditional Jamaican side dish made with coconut milk, spices, and red kidney beans (I know those aren’t peas, but that’s what we call it and it doesn’t change the fact that it’s DE-licious!). The rice takes on the hue made from the beans and milk and will be fluffy and tender. This is one of my favorite side dishes. Maybe some would be done then, but for me, the meal isn’t complete without the veggies! My cabbage medley consisted of cabbage, onions, red & green peppers, and carrots. Sauté everything but the cabbage and carrots until slightly tender, add the cabbage and carrots and let it steam until cooked to your liking. For my liquid to cook the veggies in, I used chicken stock. Provides so much more of a flavor punch than water. However, if you don’t have it, water will do. Add some butter (because everything is better with butter), salt and pepper to taste and you’re golden!!!
If you have extra time, you can make a delicious sauce to brush over the chicken afterwards. I will provide the recipe on the site as well – once I get the measurement together for you guys (because you know I’m not use to measuring LOL).
When you plate up that meal and serve it to your family, they’ll be so impressed. And per my 2 year old son’s approval, it’s kid friendly as well! You could serve this with a serving of fried plantains on the side, but I opted out this time. I guarantee you will LOVE this – especially if you love flavor and spice! So keep cooking… keep trying… keep learning!! And enjoy!