Monday, April 27, 2009

Jamaican Jerk Chicken with a Fruit Salad

Alright, cue Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds": "Don't worry about a thing....'Cause every little thing's gonna be all right."

It's sunny out and the weather's perfect for a taste of the Caribbean islands--specifically Jamaican jerk style cooking, which uses a special blend of hot spices. Typically, Jamaican jerk spice is made up of ingredients like allspice, peppers, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme and garlic. Admittedly, this is a strong blend of spices but believe me, it is absolutely delicious! Jerk seasoning can be applied to various proteins like poultry, fish, beef, pork or even vegetables, depending on one's taste and preference. The most common and popular application of jerk seasoning is on chicken and is best cooked over a charcoal grill that is flavored with pimento wood. If you are thinking about using fish, try to use it on hardier, grillable fish like mahi-mahi, swordfish or wahoo (or "ono" in Hawaiian) and not flaky white fish like haddock or flounder. Also, taste-wise, jerk seasoning is not very good on those white fish.

Anyway, you can easily obtain jerk seasoning from your local grocery store's spice rack. All you need to do after that is to marinade the chicken with some oil and jerk seasoning. Do not add salt because the seasoning is already pretty salty. Leave the marinated chicken in your refrigerator for a couple of hours in order to permeate the flavor of the seasoning into the meat. For this application, I use wooden skewers to hold the meat and vegetables in place while grilling. It also looks kinda cool when you serve it to your guests this way! One thing to note is to soak the wooden skewers in water for a few hours before using them, so that they would not catch on fire on the grill. For vegetables, I would recommend red onions, zucchini and summer squash, as they are perfect for grilling. Some people might also like grilled tomatoes and potatoes as well. Just remember to cut them thick and oil and season them before grilling. For good measure, I also grilled some fresh pineapple slices as well.

As a side dish to the jerk chicken and also in keeping with the island theme, I added a fruit salad that is made up of spring mix as the leafy vegetable, red onions, fresh pineapple, strawberries, blackberries, peaches and mandarin oranges. The sweetness of the fruits balance out the tartness of the balsamic vinaigrette that I used on this salad.

Hope you will enjoy making this easy dish as much as I did!

"'Cause every little thing's gonna be all right!"

Gosh! I just love listening to reggae while grilling!

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