I’ve had a number of attempts at enjoying Caribbean cuisine elsewhere, but it did occur to me that I have never cooked it at home. Spice with a twist – how perfect is that? Seems way too good to resist!
Now I can’t say I’d find salt fish and ackees terribly inviting, though were I in the Windies I would undoubtedly try both. Ditto goat curry, though goat is not generally found in supermarkets or butchers hereabouts so a little specialist sourcing would be required to do that dish. However, for the purpose of introductory Jamaican cooking in Tiptree, where better to start than Jerk Chicken and Rice and Peas – a classic combination for which most of the ingredients are already in my store cupboard. The only real addition required was allspice, which seems a staple of Caribbean cuisine.
I chose recipes from two different sites as the starting point, amended the Gordon Ramsey version of jerk marinade to suit my own tastes but cooked the rice & beans pretty much as stated – with the one addition of salt to the rice.
- 2 chicken thighs on the bone per person, slashed to the bone and cut away
For the jerk seasoning:
- 1 tsp ground cloves (I used whole cloves and ground them in the pestle & mortar)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp mace
- 2 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tbsp thyme, picked
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 star anise
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- Chilli sauce
- Whole finger or scotch bonnet chillis, slit up the sides (optional)
Rice & peas
- 200g basmati rice, washed and soaked for 20 minutes
- Kidney beans, soaked overnight and boiled until tender (keep the liquid)
- 400g can coconut milk
- 1 bunch spring onions , chopped
- 1 thyme sprig
- 1 garlic clove , chopped
- 1 tsp allspice
- Salt & black pepper
Mix all the dry ingredients to form a marinade, then rub well into the chicken, particularly into the cracks made by slashing the meat. Leave for 30 minutes.
Heat a heavy oven-ready pan on a hot ring with a little oil. Sear the chicken thighs on all sides, then add Worcester and chilli sauces. Allow to boil then put in the oven for 20 minutes.
To a saucepan add a tiny amount of oil, spring onions, allspice, salt, pepper, garlic and rice. Stir well to coat the rice, then add the bean liquid and coconut milk. Bring to the boil, cover tightly then put on a low heat for 10 minutes until almost of the liquid has soaked into the rice. Stir in the beans.