We’re nearing the end of the month, which means it’s time for another Guest Test Kitchen. This time, our featured guest is Deryn, a friend who definitely knows her way around the kitchen. Just a few months ago, she hosted an Easter dinner, and Amir and I both attended. Her macaroni and cheese had everybody running back to the serving dish for more. I don’t even think there was a noodle left by the end of the night. As of late, Deryn’s been poking through the internet’s recipe-laden pages and picking lots of good finds to grace her dinner table. She has turned her kitchen into a test lab of delicious experiments, and so it only seemed right to have her share one of those trials with us. And with you!
“I’ve been trying to get a bit more adventurous lately with my cooking. I’ve become bored with the same old mundane recipes I was used to making. Thus, my boredom with cooking made me give up on it all together, even though it’s something I enjoy. I think I was just afraid to try something new, so I would stick with recipes that I felt were safe. Recently, I got some encouragement from my dear friend Chrystal, and she’s inspired me to try new things and not to be afraid of completely screwing up a dish. I decided to challenge myself and start to try new recipes. For almost a week, at one point, I was craving some Jamaican cuisine (jerk chicken, peas and rice and cabbage). I haven’t found any good Jamaican restaurants near me, so I figured I should attempt to make it myself. And that’s exactly what I did.
I was being really ambitious as I decided to even make the jerk sauce myself and not get a store bought sauce. I even went out and bought a food processor just for this dish (although I’ve gotten plenty of use out of it since). To take on this mound of a task, I went online and found a recipe for jerk sauce and one for peas and rice as I had never made either before. There were a thousand recipes so I just chose the one that had the ingredients I felt would most likely fit well together. I’ll list each of the recipes below!
Jamaican Jerk Chicken – Serves 4 to 6 (Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes)
5-6 pound roasting chicken, skin on*
1/2 cup malt vinegar (or white vinegar)
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 Scotch bonnet peppers (or habaneros), with seeds, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
4 green onion tops, chopped
1 tablespoon dried thyme or 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons ground allspice
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons molasses
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
Blend the vinegar, rum, hot peppers, onion, green onion tops, thyme, olive oil, salt, pepper, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and molasses in the food processor until smooth. (To be honest, I would go a little easy on the cinnamon or not add it at all. For me the cinnamon was a bit overpowering. I haven’t tried the recipe again to see how it tastes with less or no cinnamon but I think it would allow the other seasonings some room to shine, especially the allspice!)
Place chicken in a zip bag or baking dish and coat with lime juice, then run down with the blended paste. Marinate for at least 2 hours. (The recipe calls for keeping the chicken in the fridge over night. I only kept it in the fridge for about 2 hours.) When ready to cook, take the chicken out of the bag or dish, but save the marinade. Pour into a little pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from heat and set aside for a basting sauce.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Once hot, put the chicken back into the baking dish or a roasting pan with the skin side up. Cook for about 45 minutes or until done, then transfer to another plate and baste with the reserved sauce.
*The recipe I found called for one 5 or 6 lb roasting chicken. However, I just used some good ol’ chicken wings, but feel free to use whatever type of chicken you like (wings, thighs, legs)!
Jamaican Peas and Rice – Serves 6 to 8 (Inspired by Food.com)
16 ounces kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove, minced
2 1/2 cups water
Salt, to taste
2 cups long grain rice, uncooked
Pepper, to taste
1 whole scallion, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves removed
1 whole Scotch Bonnet pepper
2 cups coconut milk
Combine the beans, garlic, water and salt to taste in a medium pot over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the rice, pepper to taste, scallion, thyme leaves, Scotch Bonnet and coconut milk. Bring to a boil again, reduce heat, cover and cook for another 20 minutes or until all of the liquid is gone. Remove the Scotch Bonnet and serve hot as a side dish. Season as desired with more salt and pepper.
Boiled Cabbage – Serves 4 to 6
3 pounds cabbage
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cut cabbage up into big chunks about 1 inch pieces. In a large, pot pour in approximately 8 cups of water or enough to completely cover the cabbage once it is added. Add the olive oil, cabbage and salt and pepper as desired. Bring water to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Allow cabbage to cook until your desired texture, approximately 15-25 minutes. (I like my cabbage soft, so I allow it to cook for about 30 minutes, give or take a few minutes depending on how large the head of cabbage is.) Add additional seasonings as necessary once done.
I know this sounds somewhat elaborate, and it’s honestly not the quick meal you would think about cooking after a long day of work. However, it’s great for a Sunday dinner, and it will allow you to have leftovers for a few extra meals throughout the week.
Click HERE for the printable recipe.