Jerk Chicken with Coconut Saffron Rice and Black Beans

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The best jerk recipe I have ever tasted, delighted the senses, as it was fragrant, fiery hot and smoky all at once.The original recipe was developed by Paul Chung, an adventurous self-taught cook who grew up in Jamaica and has sampled jerk from just about every corner of the island. Making a few adjustments, I added  fresh ginger, dark brown sugar and apple cider vinegar to the marinade. For best results and maximum flavor, let the chicken marinate overnight, covered, in the refrigerator.

As side dishes goes, this saffron rice recipe cooks up pretty quickly, making it a great dish if you are in a hurry. Another added bonus is that is one of those rare dishes that gluten free and vegan. However, if you are allergic to coconut milk, soy milk is a suitable substitute.

Serves 8

Ingredients:
For the Chicken:
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 medium scallions, chopped
2-3 Scotch bonnet chili peppers, stems removed, chopped (or Habaneros)
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon five-spice powder
1 tablespoon allspice berries, coarsely ground
1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Two 3 1/2- to 4-pound chickens, quartered

For the Saffron Coconut Rice and Beans:
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1 tablespoon plain water,at room temperature
2 cups uncooked white basmati rice (or any long grain rice)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 3/4 cup coconut milk
2 cups water
1 teaspoon agave nectar, (or 1/2 teaspoon of sugar)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
a pinch of ground nutmeg
One 15-ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
Lime wedges, for garnish

Special Equipment:
Latex gloves for handling the chilis and massaging the marinade under the chicken skin.

Directions:
For the chicken start preparing it a day or two ahead of actual cooking.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels.In a food processor, combine the onion, scallions, chiles, ginger, garlic, five-spice powder, allspice, black pepper, thyme, nutmeg, salt and brown sugar; process to a coarse paste. With the machine on, add the the soy sauce and oil in a steady stream. Put on latex gloves and pour the marinade into a large, shallow dish. Slather the marinade all over chicken, including under skin, and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring the chicken to room temperature before cooking and lightly sprinkle with more salt and ground allspice, before proceeding.

Prepare a charcoal grill: Clean and oil grates.Light a grill and preheat to medium heat using one chimney of charcoal. The temperature can start as high as 300°F. For best results, coals should be at least 12 inches away from chicken. If necessary, push coals to one side of grill to create indirect heat. Add two large handfuls of soaked pimento (allspice) wood sticks and chips (See Cook’s Notes) or other aromatic wood chips to coals, then close grill. When thick white smoke billows from grill, place chicken on grate, skin side up, and cover. Let cook undisturbed for 35 to 45 minutes.

Uncover the grill. The chicken will be golden and mahogany in some spots. Chicken thighs may already be cooked through. For other cuts, turn chicken over and add more wood chips, and charcoal as needed. Cover and continue cooking, checking and turning every 10 minutes. Jerk chicken is done when skin is burnished brown and chicken juices are completely clear, with no pink near the bone. For large pieces, this can take up to an hour.

While chicken is cooking, begin to prepare the rice.

In a small bowl, soak saffron threads in the water, at room temperature, for 5 minutes and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat peanut oil over a medium heat until it begins to shimmer, about 2 minutes. Stir in chopped shallot and garlic, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in rice, mixing with a wooden spoon until all of the grains are coated with peanut oil. Fry for 1 minute, stirring constantly.Gently stir in the coconut milk, water, saffron mixture, agave or sugar, turmeric, cumin taking care as the oil will splatter. Season with salt, and gently stir, making sure that nothing sticks to the bottom while everything comes to a boil.

Once liquid achieves a boil, reduce heat to low. Place lid on pot, slightly askew to allow some steam to escape. Stir occasionally to make sure rice does not stick to bottom of pan and the sugar in the coconut milk does not burn. Allow to simmer *very* gently for 15-20 minutes, or until rice is tender.

Stir in the black beans and cook for a few minutes more until hot. Remove from heat and cover the saucepan. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork when you are ready to serve.

When the chicken is done, transfer to a platter.Garnish with lime wedges and serve with the rice.

Cook’s Notes:
Pimento wood sticks and chips are available at www.pimentowood.com.

Alternatively you bake the chicken in the oven if a grill is not readily available.After marinating and you are ready to cook the chicken, heat oven to 350°F and bake chicken for 45-55 minutes, until done.

Also, if time is of the essence, you can first bake the chicken at 300°F in the oven then finished off on the grill. This will result in crispy skin, with perfect texture and flavor.

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Sesame Crusted Mahi Mahi

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This recipe takes on an Asian flair with a coating of sesame seeds and furikake on the tuna and a dressed salad of  soba noodles with bell peppers and green garden vegetables tossed in a yuzu and soy sauce vinaigrette.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Mahi Mahi:
Four 8-ounce Mahi Mahi Tuna steaks
2 egg whites
1 cup white sesame seeds
1 cup black sesame seeds
1/4 cup furikake dry Japanese rice seasoning
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
Olive oil

Yuzu Soy Vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons Yuzu juice
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Soba Noodles:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
1/2 cup sake
2 tablespoons ginger, grated
1/4 cup Yuzu juice
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon chili oil
1 pound soda noodles
4 shiso leaves , julienned
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, picked
1/2 cup mint leaves, torn
3 scallions, thinly cut on the bias

Vegetable Garnish:
1/4 bunch thin asparagus
1 cup sugar snap peas
1 cup snow peas
1 cup English peas, in pod
Salt, taste
Dash Chili Oil
Squirt lemon juice
2 scallions, cut thinly on the bias

Directions:
For the Crusted Tuna:
In a shallow bowl, mix white and black sesame seeds and  the furikake in a shallow pan. Season with salt and pepper. Brush the tuna with egg white on all sides. Dip the tuna in the sesame mixture on all sides, pressing the seed coating into the fish.

Heat oil in a cast iron skill over medium high heat.

Add in the tuna gently and cook for approximately 30 seconds on each side. Use a spoon to baste the tuna with the hot oil to cook it evenly on each side.

Gently remove the tuna from the skillet and it let rest. Slice the tuna and set aside.

For the Yuzu Vinaigrette and Noodles:
In a small bowl, which together the yuzu, sesame oil, olive oil, soy sauce and sesame seeds. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

For the noodles, bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the soba noodles and cook for three minutes.

Using a clean paper towel, wipe the large cast iron skillet used to cook the fish. Return the skillet to the stove and heat oil until shimmering add the bell peppers and season with salt and pepper, cooking until softened, Add the ginger. Add sake and flambe. Stir mixture until a syrup like consistency is reached.

Add in yuzu, rice vinegar, sesame oil and soy sauce. Reduce the mixture until thickened. Finish with lime zest, lime juice and chili oil.

Drain noodles and add them to a large bowl. Toss noodles with the Yuzu vinaigrette.

For the Vegetable Garnish:
In a medium saucepan, add water and a pinch of salt Bring the salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus, peas and blanch them in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Immediately remove the vegetables and shock them in a bowl of cold ice water to stop the cooking process. Remove vegetables from the ice water bath and dry with clean paper towels. Cut the asparagus on a bias, cut the snow peas on a bias, cut the sugar snap peas and the English peas lengthwise. Toss the vegetables with a bit of chili oil, lemon juice and salt to taste.

To serve, add the noodles to the center of the plate. Arrange the sliced tuna over the noodles. Scatter the vegetable garnish randomly over the tuna and noodles. Add a touch of cilantro and mint leaves, if desired.

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Sesame Shrimp and Pork Meatballs with Noodles

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Shrimp and Pork Meatballs combined with bok choy, and lo mein makes for a fun twist on an old classic, and an awesome dinner for 4 in less than 30 minutes!

Serves 4

Ingredients:
¾ pounds ground pork
1/2 pound large (16-20 count) shrimp, devined, shelled and minced
1 egg white
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6  tablespoons soy sauce divided
¼ cup sesame seeds
4 tablespoons olive oil
One 8-ounce package lo mein noodles
1 bunch scallions
1/2 pound baby bok choy
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 medium red sweet bell pepper, sliced

Directions:
Mix the ground pork,  minced shrimp, and egg white with 2 tablespoons of the  soy sauce. With wet hands, form meat into 16 equal balls. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on a plate and roll the balls through, so they are completely coated with sesame seeds.

Heat half the oil in a large skillet and cook the meatballs over medium heat for 2 minutes. Cover the skillet and reduce the heat to low. Steam for 7 minutes., or until cooked through.

While meatballs steam, prepare the noodles according to package directions until al dente. Slice the scallions and bok choy. Heat remaining oil in a wok or skillet and stir-fry the ginger, garlic, and peppers for 2 minutes. Add the bok choy and the remaining soy sauce. Sauté for 3 minutes, or until peppers are tender. Stir in the noodles and green onions. Divide the noodles onto 4 plates and top with the meatballs.

Serve with extra soy sauce to taste, on the side.

All photographs and content are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!

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