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Friday, March 6, 2015

Take Me Back to Jamaica - Jerk Chicken and Shrimp


Jerk Pork Chop Dinner
Only a few short months ago, I had the honor of watching two dear friends commit their lives to one another in the beautiful city of Negril, Jamaica.  Everything I went through to ensure I could keep my commitment and witness this once in a lifetime event was out of this world and enough for a completely different blog post that I'll have to share soon, but it made my time there even more special.  I will always remember the inviting hospitality, the welcoming atmosphere, the great company of old and new friends alike, the beautiful beaches and of course the delicious jerk seasoning they had on several of the dishes I tried.


My crew
When I first decided to make jerk 'something' I was in search of something I could make that would be tasty enough for me and exciting enough that my teenage son wouldn't get bored with the leftovers.  I remembered a Jerk Catfish recipe from a Cooking Light magazine I did a few years back and luckily I still had the seasoning.  Have you ever found yourself trying out new recipe that calls for a whole bunch of seasonings you don't actually carry in your kitchen?  You go out an buy it and then never really use it again!  I got so fed up with my overflowing non-existent spice cupboard that when I moved out of that house I took a spice purchasing sabbatical.  I was only allowed to buy common spices when I ran out.
Selfie time!

I digress, so back to my dilemma with the Jerk Catfish seasoning...When I checked the ingredients of the seasoning blend, I saw the first item listed was SUGAR!  "Nooooo!," I thought.  This would not do for my 21 Day Fix Extreme eating, so I searched online for a sugar free version.  I settled with this recipe:  http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1014722-no-fuss-jerk-chicken, and it did not disappoint.  Even though I did not have all the ingredients, I had enough to make it work.  I actually doubled the recipe so I could use it with the shrimp and chicken I had.  I will list a single batch recipe as I made it, but check out the link for the true recipe as I'm sure I will go through the effort to get some of the real stuff next time, if they make sense.


Jerk Chicken (or Shrimp, or whatever you choose!)


Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons ground Allspice
  • 1 Tablespoon dried Thyme
    Mixed seasonings
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Dried Jalapenos (the spice factor for jalapenos is very low compared to the habanero chiles.  I wanted to be sure my son would eat this first time around)
  • 6 scallions, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger thickly sliced
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • Juice of 2 large limes
  • 1 1/2 pounds of boneless chicken tenders, shrimp or whatever you choose
Marinating...
Directions:
Broiled Jerk Shrimp
  1. Combine allspice, thyme, garlic, jalapenos (or chiles), scallions, peppercorns, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and lime juice in a blender or food processor and grind to a rough paste.
  2. Put meat in a baking dish or plastic Ziploc bag.  Add seasoning paste and coat well.
  3. Cover dish or seal bag tightly and marinate, refrigerated, for at least 6 hours, but preferably overnight.
  4. Heat oven to 350 degrees for chicken or turn on broiler for shrimp.
  5. Bring meat to room temperature.
  6. Bake/Broil uncovered until well browned and juices run clear when probed with a paring knife - about 20-25 minutes for chicken tenders and 10 minutes for shrimp, turning halfway.

Meal packaged for RJ
Servings: Use your red container to measure your protein, but I found that 1 Red container = 1 1/2 - 2 tenders or 10 shrimp.  This was easy to add with the veggies I roasted during the week or I added them to a spinach salad and sometimes paired with a sweet potato.


Enjoy Mon!



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