Mary Anne here. Recently I had the good fortune to spend a few days on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. It was absolute paradise, particularly during this spate of blustery wet weather here on the east coast! As we basked in the glow of emerald green waters and relished the warm island breezes, we also dove head-first into the local cuisine. Our meals were often quite simple and it was in this simplicity that the food stood out as fresh, exciting, and far different from any of the “Caribbean” dishes I’ve enjoyed in the good old U.S. of A.
The following recipe is St. Lucia’s version of Jerk Chicken. Although it uses the hottest of peppers in the marinade — Habaneras — the dish was fragrant and full of exotic spice yet it didn’t set my tongue on fire. A word of warning, however: I had never used these peppers before and decided to sample a tiny piece off the cutting board. WHOA! Not for me, not raw anyway! But somehow the blend of lime juice, mustard, and herbs turn down the heat, producing a succulent chicken with just the right amount of warmth. As is often true with marinated meats and poultry, the leftovers are even spicier and more flavorful.
I served this alongside ripe mango and the sweetness of the fruit was a perfect complement to this sassy dish. Keep it true to local cuisine and serve yours with herbed rice and beans. No matter how you slice it, Jerky Chicky will transport you to the sunshine of the Caribbean on these cold winter nights!
Caribbean Jerky Chicky
Note: The original recipe suggests either broiling or grilling the chicken for 25 minutes on each side, (4 inches away from the flame), and re-basting with the marinade when turning the pieces. It was frosty and raining when I prepared this and my broiler is on the fritz, so I roasted the chicken and then placed it under the testy broiler for about 8 minutes just to give it that grilled char.
4 chicken breasts, bone in, or 1 whole chicken, quartered – $8.31
1 Habanera pepper, seeded and chopped – $0.40 (be very careful when chopping, I suggest using rubber gloves to avoid undue contact with your skin or eyes)
2 Tablespoons mustard – stock
2 Teaspoons each of dried basil, thyme, and rosemary – stock
1/3 cup chopped scallions – $0.79
1 clove of garlic, chopped – stock
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice – $.50
1 Teaspoon salt – stock
¼ Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $9.64
Total Per Serving: $2.41
1. Prepare the marinade. Combine all of the ingredients except the chicken in either a food processor armed with the metal blade or a blender. Pulse several times until mixture is a thick paste and well-blended.
2. Brush both sides of the chicken pieces with about ¾ of the marinade, reserving the rest for later. Place the chicken in a non-reactive glass or ceramic bowl or casserole and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours. Cover the remaining marinade and refrigerate, as well.
Note: To grill or broil, see the instructions above in the intro.
3. To roast the chicken: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the prepared chicken in the oven and bake, uncovered for 25 minutes. Brush the tops with the reserved marinade and turn the pieces over. Brush the bottoms and continue roasting for 25 minutes.
4. Remove the chicken from the oven and turn the pieces so that the topsides are up again. Turn the broiler on and move the oven rack up so that the chicken is 4 inches from the flame. Broil for about 8 minutes, rotating the pan once or twice. Watch carefully as you want a deep golden charred crust.