In the Jamaican airport I bought myself a cookbook called Eat Caribbean by Virginia Burke to read on the plane. It’s fabulous–full of colorful photographs and delicious recipes. I read the whole thing by the end of the second flight, and already knew I wanted to try jerk chicken right away. Since Ben and I are trying to eat more lightly for spring, I decided to opt for the recipe with jerk chicken on top of a tropical avocado and papaya salad. (Have I mentioned how much I love papayas? If you don’t, or you can’t find one, I bet this would be great with grapefruit, too.)
The jerk seasoning has a lot of ingredients, but is super quick to make. This recipe makes about 2/3 of a cup, so you can store the extra in your fridge and try it on other meats or seafood. I am pretty much dying to try jerk everything. The cookbook even has a recipe for jerk hamburgers! How fabulous does that sound?
This salad was a wonderful light dinner. The citrusy dressing, creamy avocado, sweet papaya, and spiced chicken complement each other perfectly. I will definitely be making this again soon!
This recipe is adapted from Eat Caribbean and serves 3-4.
Ingredients for the jerk seasoning:
6 scallions, trimmed
1-3 scotch bonnet or habanero peppers, seeded and trimmed (I chickened out and used half a pepper, and it wasn’t hot at all. So I recommend using at least one whole pepper!)
1 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup cane, malt, or apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon oil
Blend all ingredients in the food processor to form a paste. Store in the refrigerator.
Ingredients for the jerk chicken:
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1.5 pounds)
Salt or lime juice
1-2 tablespoons jerk seasoning (The recipe called for 1, but I thought the chicken could have used more flavor)
1 tablespoon oil, plus some for cooking
Prepare a bowl of salt water, or water with the juice of 1 lime, and rinse the chicken pieces in it. Pat dry. Rub the chicken with the jerk seasoning and oil, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
Heat a bit of oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook, turning occasionally, until well-browned on both sides and cooked through, about 15 minutes total.