Thursday, January 8, 2009
Jerk Chicken with Cool Salsa
I'm afraid I can't call this meal a complete and utter success. I don't think it's the recipe's fault, mostly because it's Ellie Krieger's recipe and she hasn't failed me yet. I promised you that I'd bring you more of her this week, and here she is. But I think the flaws in this meal were my fault. (I guess this blog couldn't be filled entirely with successes, could it?) And they were twofold. I'll get to that in a moment. Point is I am still sharing this recipe because I think it has great potential, and could be delicious if executed properly.
This is a refreshing and mildly spicy recipe that is remarkably healthy. The first flaw on my part - the "cool salsa" is supposed to be "cool pineapple salsa," but I dropped the ball and didn't realize the pineapple in my fridge had gone bad and needed to be sacrificed. (Do you see any pineapple in the picture? If you do, you're imagining it.) So I just doubled the amount of cucumber and made it a cucumber salsa (and lo and behold, it was fantastic!) I'm giving you the true version of the recipe, pineapple and all, since I really do think the pineapple is there for a reason. But by all means, if you're not a fan of pineapple, or you can't find fresh, I can vouch for the cucumber salsa as being truly delicious and reminiscent of a mojito.
The second (and bigger) flaw was that I found the sauce a little bitter, and I can't pinpoint what the cause was. I think the garlic I used might be a little old, which tends to make things taste bitter. I'd recommend you use very fresh garlic. The other possible cause might have been the lime juice that was added to the sauce - to be on the safe side, follow the directions carefully and only add the lime juice when the sauce is done and you're about to add the chicken and turn off the heat. I cheated and added it earlier, which means it cooked a bit and perhaps that was a problem.
Finally, I can't promise this is an authentic jerk sauce. But authentic or no, you'll still feel like you're on vacation somewhere at least vaguely tropical. Especially if you remember to buy pineapple. Try it and see if you can do it better than I did.
Jerk Chicken with Cool (Pineapple) Salsa
Adapted from Ellie Krieger's "The Food You Crave"
1/2 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 cup finely diced fresh pineapple
1/4 cup seeded and finely diced English cucumber
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 3/4 pound), pounded between 2 sheets of wax paper to 1/2 inch thickness
1/2 cup chopped scallions, green and white parts (about 3 scallions)
1 serrano chile, seeded and finely minced
1 small clove of garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1. Make the salsa: in a small bowl, whisk together honey and lime juice. Add the pineapple, cucumber, and mint, and toss to combine.
2. Cook the chicken: heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until browned and cooked just through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
3. Make the sauce: Add the remaining oil to the pan. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in the scallions, serrano chile, garlic, ginger, allspice, and thyme and cook for 30 seconds. Add the broth and soy sauce and cook until the liquid reduces by half, about 3 minutes. Stir in the lime juice at the last possible moment. Return the chicken to the pan and coat well with the sauce. Turn off the heat.
4. Serve the chicken topped with the sauce and the pineapple salsa on the side. I'd recommend adding rice, cous cous, or some other grain to round out the plate.