That’s it! I went jerking with my bird. It has been sometime since I’ve gone down this familiar route. I wanted a dish that was bold, spicy, succulent and packed with amazing flavors that would excite my taste buds.
As a result, I decided on one of my favorite ways to cook the feathery one. I even made a butterfly with the ‘white one’ by removing the back bone. Will use that backbone in a soup or broth. Anyway, marinated chicken overnight in a concoction consisted of:
salt, black pepper, crushed garlic, thyme, parsley, rosemary, onions, sprinkle of sugar, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and of course, jerk seasoning
Chicken was placed on foiled baking sheet on roasting rack along with Macintosh apple. This was roasted at a temperature of 420 degrees fahrenheit for 20 minutes and then oven was turned down to 350 degrees for another 30 minutes (turning once).
Chicken was basted with extra sauce consisting of jerk sauce, ketchup, honey, etc. in the last 10 minutes.
Served chicken with roasted wedges of sweet potatoes, pumpkin and carrots. My palate and I were exceedingly happy and satiated.
When it comes to cooking, I love the idea of borrowing and mixing different spices and flavors. So, I was quite excited to explore and swing with my native Caribbean and Mediterranean worlds.
I needed bold, colorful and exotic flavors to bring my chicken (half) to a spectacular level. Thus, all roads led me to a favorite of mine, curry powder. I selected a spicy specimen that sent my roasted curried chicken and garbanzo beans over the top. Yes, I’ve often consumed curried chicken in a stewed form; but, never roasted.
I didn’t hold back on taste. The other ingredients added were:
Crushed pimento (all spice)
Salt and black pepper
Fresh thyme and rosemary
Olive oil and butter
After combining all ingredients, chicken was placed in marinade overnight. This allowed ingredients to greatly absorb in same. Chicken was removed from marinade brought to room temperature. Reserved marinade from chicken was placed in a stockpot with a squeeze of ketchup, sugar, vinegar and simmered to a sauce-like consistency.
Chicken roasted at 360 degrees fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Then, another 30 minutes at 400 degrees fahrenheit (basting with simmered sauce) with skin-side up so as to gain a crispy skin. (N.B – Beforehand, herb butter was placed under skin. And, a few pats on skin for added crispness.
Beans were seasoned with a pinch of salt and curry powder, black pepper, paprika, crushed garlic and a drizzle of olive oil. These were then placed simultaneously in oven with chicken and roasted at 360 degrees fahrenheit for approximately 15 to 20 minutes until crispy.
I confess; I’m not a great lover of turkey. However, on Thanksgiving Day I indulged in a very delicious, moist and succulent bird. Shhh!! My friend was on top of her game and ‘throw it down!’ I found my self returning for seconds. The side dishes served were: creamy macaroni/cheese, sweet and smooth sweet potato bake, hot kale salad and of course the tart/sweet cranberry. All those sides gave a beautiful balance to the star of the show (turkey).
On returning home, I felt a tad guilty. I took a peek at my chicken as it perched on the bottom shelf. Somehow, it looked quite miniature. My intention was to do a quick roast of it the next day. You see, I placed it in an apple cider brine the a day before. I removed same, rinsed and stuffed it with compound butter consisting of fresh herbs of rosemary, thyme and crushed garlic.
As my poor bird laid there I felt that I should find a way to perk it up and enhance the size and taste. Reflecting on the size of the turkey breast, I took my knife and made a slit in the center of my chicken breast. That didn’t satisfy me. I made quick scan of my surrounding trying to find a way to make it up to my bird. After all, I consume same most days of the week.
In my peripheral vision, I spotted the bowl of gala apples. Why not? Immediately, I grabbed a couple and removed the pits with my knife tip and stuffed them with some fresh herbs. I smiled, I felt like I was making it up with a lover. I drizzled a little olive oil and massaged the interior and exterior of my abandoned bird (well, in my mind).
I placed my dear bird on wire rack so that all the heat could circulate throughout and yield a crispy skin. Chicken was then placed on foiled baking sheet and roasted in a preheated 375 degree oven for approximately an hour (turning once). It was basted with a sauce consisting of little apple cider, ketchup, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and dried seasoning. Oven was turned up to 420 for another 15 minutes to arrive at a crispy and brown finish.
Though my beloved bird was small in body, I must state I loved all the amazing flavors. She has a way to adapt to any spice, and flavors come her way. She is so forgiving and always seem to satisfy me. I can’t promise her that I will not stray and test the waters with another feathery one. Deep down, I know she understands.
Oh, I wish they would all just get along. After all, it’s just a once in a while kind of thing. Do I have to choose? Okay, I choose my dear chicken.
Sunday’s supper was braised oxtails, one of the popular dishes from my childhood. This dish is still a favorite in many Jamaican kitchens and restaurants. Part of its composition is a center bone which is quite a delight to savor by sucking the mouth-watering gravy. You just can’t help yourself; your fingers will become utensils while partaking. After all, it’s a rustic meal.
Over the years, this dish has grown in popularity across many ethnic lines. As a result, the prices have increased exorbitantly. However, that has not stopped lovers of oxtails to purchase same. In Jamaica, we mainly cook ox tails with lima beans (butter beans) which are added close to the end of the cooking process.
There are a few variations in cooking braised ox tails and everyone places their signature stamp on same. For me, the previous night I trimmed any residual fat from oxtails pieces before seasoning. Then, oxtails pieces were seasoned with salt, black pepper, crushed garlic, a splash balsamic vinegar (which act as a tenderizer as well as for flavoring), and a pinch of jerk sauce (my preference for added flavors).
After bringing oxtails to room temperature, they were added to a sturdy hot skillet with a drizzle of canola oil. I allowed them to brown on each side (turning repeatedly). Chopped root vegetables were added in the form of chopped onions, celery, and bell peppers. Also, thyme and rosemary were added along with crushed pimento (all spice).
There was no need to add beef broth as oxtails are loaded with great flavors. So, instead, tap cold water was used to cover pieces. Under low to medium heat, oxtail pieces were braised for two and a half hours (adding liquid,(water) whenever needed. By the way, this dish is a labor of love. It takes time; two to three hours. A pressure cooker would cut the duration.
As soon as the pieces were fork-tender, additional seasonings were added. Instead of lima beans (butter), spinners (small dumplings) were added. These dumplings were made with a combination of whole wheat and all-purpose flour. Dish was further simmered for an additional five to ten minutes.
The finished dish was one that was a ‘fall-off’ the bone one. These tenderized pieces of meat had the right amount of spices and flavorings that were mouth-watering to the palate.
Oxtails were served with steamed Jasmine rice which soaked up all the amazing flavors of the thick and rich gravy. In addition, a side dish of sauteed assorted vegetables accompanied the dish.