Friday, October 27, 2017

MOG - Smoky, Spicy Jamaican Chicken, pg. 248

It seemed like a good time to grab my Master of theGrill cookbook and look for a good way to handle these chicken thighs I had, and do it in time for dinner. It was a little late to be brainstorming, a little over an hour before I wanted to serve dinner, but I was optimistic. My spice cupboard was full, and boneless-skinless almost always turn out well.

At first I had planned on a Thai green curry. But that was before I realized I had not bought that extra can of coconut milk like I had mis-remembered. As I was muttering about what to do with my chicken pieces, my husband said, “Try something Cajun.” I thought he said “Jamaican,” which made me think of Jerk Seasoning, which I hadn’t really done before. So I dug around in my cookbooks and pulled an interesting one out of my “America’s Test Kitchen– Master of the Grill” book. The list of spice ingredients was exhaustive and looked interesting, so I figured I would try it out, and in the process add another entry to this series!

I laid out my plan. The subjects were: spice paste, side dishes, grill readiness. First the spice paste, so the pieces could marinate a bit.

I have made a great peace with substitutions. Although I didn’t need many, I made a few, but all in the spirit of the original recipe.

Grind up in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle: ( I have a Krups blade coffee grinder specifically for spices, and I just wipe it clean with a damp paper towel after use)
1 ½ Tablespoons coriander seeds
1 Tablespoon allspice berries (I used 1 teaspoon ground allspice)
1 Tablespoon black peppercorns

Put these in a blender container and add the rest of the paste ingredients:
1-3 habanero chiles, stemmed, seeded and quartered (seriously!? No, I don’t have those fellows just hanging around. I used 1 teaspoon chipotle powder and 2 small fresh sweet peppers. Orange, to honor the habaneros)
8 scallions, chopped ( I guess scallions are green onions. Didn’t have any, but I did have some young shallot sprouts in my poor neglected garden, so I made do)
6 garlic cloves, peeled (no fresh stuff at hand, so I used the equivalent freeze-dried chopped garlic, Penzy’s brand)
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil, my new choice for higher heat oil instead of canola)
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons grated lime zest- 3 limes (I had been wondering what I was going to do with that lonely shriveled lime left in my crisper drawer! I got a respectable amount of zest from it, and then added the juice to try to make up for the missing zest.)\
2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
1 Tablespoon dried Thyme
1 Tablespoon dried ginger
1 Tablespoon packed brown sugar
2 ¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried rosemary (didn’t have dried, but I do have a bush with the fresh stuff on it!)
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg (ever since I discovered grinding myown little nutmegs, I have never bought the pre-ground stuff again)

Run all this in the blender until smooth, about a minute or two.  Get your chicken up close and personal with the paste, and shove it in a gallon ziplock, or do as I did and just mash it into a baking dish.

Now, the recipe called for 3 pounds of bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces, but I used what I had, 2 ½ pounds of boneless-skinless thighs.

I got the grill ready, with briquettes over the starter flame and hickory chips in the water bucket.

While the coals were heating, I got my sides ready. Basmati rice went into the microwave. I knew from experience that it would cook in less than 20 minutes, but stay hot for another hour in there. I cut up some pre-cooked butternut squash pieces into a dish and set near the microwave. (One big honkin’ squash, baked whole for about 2 hours the other day in the oven) Then I was ready to grill.

I got the coals set for indirect heat, piled on the soaked chips, and laid a couple sprigs of rosemary on top. The chicken cooked off to the side with periodic turning, and then I finished them directly over the hot coals. The platter went to the table with the bowl of hot rice. I nuked the squash for 2 minutes, and then set it out with butter and Penzy’s Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle. A formidable companion to the meal was a bottle of Paso Robles “Roustabout” Meritage 2014 red wine.

This meal will definitely be repeated. It was totally excellent. Everything went wonderfully together, and the spiced chicken was complex and delicious!