Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jerk Chicken with Cool Pineapple Salsa

Three and a half years ago, I married a man who is more perfect for me than I could ever imagine.  After a whirlwind 6 month engagement, we were thrilled to get away from the craziness of the wedding and just relax.  The husband and I both love to travel: seeing new things, experiencing new cultures--so, we hopped on a plane and went straight to Canada.  I know, it slightly deviates from the typical honeymoon destinations of Hawaii or the Bahamas, but we were going to Kauai 6 months later for Thanksgiving--so rather than double up on tropical, we thought we'd go for alpine beauty.

One of the best aspects of traveling: FOOD.  We love finding hole-in-the-wall restaurants that showcase the cultural cuisine.  What is Canadian cuisine, anyway?  I'm not sure, but I can tell you it is not this: 

Yes, this is my new husband outside of the restaurant we frequented in Victoria.  Irish Pub?  Perhaps not the most authentic...but it was tasty.

Our  first night at the restaurant, we decided to split a "signature pizza", and he decided on a Jamaican Jerk pizza.  I ask him, "Jamaican Jerk?  Have you even had that before?"  (Remember, I'm from California--and in case you need a geography refresher, Jamaica is far away from California and we don't exactly have Jamaican restaurants on every corner).  He replies that his favorite restaurant in Manhattan, Kansas was Jamaican--who knew there were Caribbean restaurants in the midwest?

Anyway, we both loved the pizza and now I'm intrigued by Caribbean fare.  Perhaps there will be more of the aforementioned dishes gracing this blog in the future.

Let's make some dinner!


Step 1: Make the salsa. 
I was slightly concerned about how long it would take, seeing as I've never sliced a fresh pineapple.  Pathetic, I know.  It took all of 2 minutes to do--but I was intimidated by it, okay?  
Total time for salsa: 10 minutes.




Salsa = pineapple, cucumber, honey, lime, mint
**Ellie says you can make the salsa ahead of time, but some reviewers said the mint became overpowering the longer the salsa was kept.


Step 2: Cook the chicken.
**Depending on how thinly you pound the chicken, cooking times may vary--but it's approximately 4 minutes on each side.




Confession: Whenever a recipe says to pound chicken with a mallet, I never do it. I always rip my chicken or they still don't turn out thin enough--and I feel like it wastes time. However, I did it this time so I could follow the directions completely.  Would I do it again? Probably not.

Step 3: Jerk Sauce
Add scallions, habanero pepper, garlic, ginger, allspice, and thyme to hot pan for 30 seconds; add broth and soy sauce, cooking until mixture is reduced by half (Ellie approximates 3 minutes--I went a little longer).  Stir in lime juice.

Step 4: Add chicken to skillet--coat well with sauce.


Reviewers recommended having rice to soak up the extra jerk sauce.  We're not huge fans of rice, so we did whole wheat couscous instead, and it was a nice touch.



Don't skimp on the salsa--it's so good!  The husband doesn't usually do salsas/sauces on the side, but even he agreed it was the perfect complement to the meal.

Pros:
*Quick and easy meal (40 minutes total)
*Minimal clean up
*Flavorful, filling, and under 300 calories!
*Inexpensive ingredients--many on hand
*Reheats well--but gets hotter!
     (yes, the mint was stronger in the salsa, but I think it was fine--we like mint, though)

Cons:
*The habanero heats up the dish--it's subtle at first, and we initially thought we should've used the whole pepper instead of the recommended half.  Each bite seemed to get a bit hotter, and by the end we agreed it was perfect.  In short: it might not appeal to more delicate palates.

Was it an authentic jerk meal?  I don't know.  I'm not from the Caribbean, so I can't vouch for whether or not it was a "true" jerk meal...but it was certainly good, and it got two enthusiastic thumbs up from the husband.


Chicken with Jerk Sauce and Cool Pineapple Salsa

2007, Ellie Krieger, All rights reserved

Ingredients

For the salsa:

  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 cup finely diced pineapple
  • 1/3 cup finely diced, seeded English cucumber
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves

For the chicken:

  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, about 5 ounces each, pounded to 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 cup chopped scallions (about 6 scallions)
  • 1/2 Scotch bonnet or habanero chile pepper, seeded and finely minced (wear gloves when handling)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, or 1/4 teaspoon ground
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

Directions

For the salsa:
In a small bowl whisk together the honey and the lime juice. Combine the pineapple, cucumber and mint in a medium bowl, pour the dressing over and toss to combine. Set aside.
For the chicken:
Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet over a medium-high heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for about 4 minutes on each side, or until browned and cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil to the pan. Stir in the scallions, pepper, garlic, ginger, allspice, and thyme. Cook for 30 seconds over a medium heat. Add the chicken broth and soy sauce and cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Stir in the lime juice. Put the chicken back in the pan and coat well with the sauce.
Serve with the pineapple salsa.

Yield: 4 servings (1 serving is 1 chicken breast, 2 tablespoons of sauce and 1/3 cup of salsa)

3 comments:

  1. I like your blog. I like the pros/cons you add to your posts with the recipes. Nice job.

    And welcome to CEinMB. Good group. Lots of fun to cook with.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who cannot seem to successfully pound a chicken breast! I have the same problems you listed so I never do it either. I tend to either cut them in half or just use them as they are. If I'm really desperate, I may spring for cutlets, but who wants to pay extra for that? Not me.

    This is one Ellie recipe I haven't tried, but it looks great! I have made the Cowboy Steak (wasn't a fan because of the coffee), and I'm looking forward to reading how you liked the Thai Halibut. It was my first pick when I joined CEiMB, and I really liked it.

    Welcome to the group :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Pineapple salsa is such a wonderful accompaniment to chicken. It adds that nice tropical touch that's so refreshing.

    ReplyDelete