The time-honored way of showing love in an Italian family is to offer food. Whether we're celebrating, mourning, happy, sad--if we're breathing, there's a table filled with great things to eat. Life's too short, so eat what you love and love what you eat.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
THE ULTIMATE JERK CHICKEN FOR TYLER FLORENCE FRIDAYS
Let's set the mood. You're on a beach, the sun is setting. In front of you is an icy tropical drink with rum and the requisite paper umbrella. Marley's singing in the background and...who's that I see over there? Why, yes, it's none other than Tyler Florence behind the grill. The sharp scent of allspice mingled with thyme and brown sugar wafts across the terrace and, while your salivary glands begin a dance, you look up and suddenly you're back in upstate New York, it's hot and that's a bottle of water in front of you as you peer out the window to make sure Larry isn't messing with the smoker you rigged up because it's time to cook some jerk chicken, Tyler style.
I'm sure I've said this before--we eat a lot of chicken and we like it. To keep things fresh, I'm always looking for a new preparation. I'll admit I'm not a big fan of "heat" in my food and I've mistakenly believed that jerk chicken would be hot, hot, hot. Nothing could have been further from the truth. This chicken smelled so incredible as it was cooking and that smell translated to big flavor, both hot and cold. We enjoyed our hot chicken with some confetti slaw, potato salad and fresh corn. Then I sliced up some of the leftover breasts--we both love the dark meat, so that was gone-- and enjoyed it for lunch the next day in a wonderful salad concoction.
We don't own a smoker (yet), but I was able to follow Tyler's instructions and rig one up. In lieu of smoking chips, I used smoking pellets, easy to find at the supermarket. The slow finish in the oven doesn't produce a crispy skin, but you won't miss that a bit since this is one intensely-flavored chicken.
You will need to plan ahead since the chicken should marinate in the refrigerator overnight. The rest of the preparation really just involves 10 minutes of smoking followed by an hour of baking in a low oven.
2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
8 cloves garlic
1 (1 inch) piece fresh ginger, sliced
3 limes, juiced
3 scallions, sliced
splash low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup EVOO
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
1 Scotch bonnet pepper, halved, plus more to taste
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
To make the marinade:
Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a blender and process until you have a smooth puree.
1 whole chicken (about 5 lbs, cut into 10 pieces)
limes, for garnish
parsley, for garnish
smoking chips (or pellets)
Begin by making the jerk marinade. Add the chicken pieces to a large resealable bag and pour in the marinade. Put the bag into a baking dish and let marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
Preheat grill to high.
To make a smoker, take a roating pan, line it with foil, add either soaked wood chips or pellets (in a foil bag) to the bottom. Place a wire rack over the top, and lay the chicken pieces over the chips on the rack. Cover with foil and grill over high heat for 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Transfer the smoked chicken pieces to a baking sheet and drizzle with EVOO. Bake for 1 hour in the oven. Garnish with limes and parsley to serve.
I will undoubtedly make this recipe again and soon. Next time I'll probably use all legs and thighs. The sweet/tart combination derived from the spices and flavorings really stir up your taste buds. Add to that the fact that the chicken was so moist and practically fall-off-the-bone tender and you have a great combination.
Next time instead of cold beer, we're going to break out those frozen umbrella drinks and toss a Bob Marley CD in the player, mon.
Now, be sure to join us at our weekly party to see what other wonderful Tyler dishes are being served up this week.