Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Prior to the discovery of the Indian bhut jolokia, or "ghost chili," scotch bonnet chilis and habaneros were considered the hottest peppers on this planet. Why the hell would we want to eat anything that hot?
Well, people in the Caribbean and Latin America both enjoy the innate tropical flavor of these chilis' meat, in addition to actually enjoying the intense spice. When paired with the bittersweet, clovey flavor of allspice and the lemony tang of fresh thyme, something magical happens: Jamaicans call it "jerk."
Believed to have come from the word "charqui," which turned into the word "jerky" in English, jerk is a fiery hot, flavorful marinade most often applied to pork and chicken. In addition to the standard trinity of chilis, allspice, and thyme, different jerk cooks might add garlic, onion, cloves, cinnamon, or other fun spices. We at Sizzle Grove came up with our own fairly authentic recipe. We like to use it on chicken drumsticks, since they're both traditional and inexpensive.
*Note: for best results, find whole allspice "berries" (which look and feel like peppercorns) and grind them up at home.
3-4 pounds of desired meat/veggie
1-2 habaneros, depending on what you can stand
3 cloves garlic
Half a medium onion, or equivalent
Several sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh ground allspice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1.5 tbsp olive oil
Juice of one lime
A dash of cold water
1. Cut up habaneros, garlic, and onion into small pieces for a blender or food processor.
2. Blend up these ingredients with salt, pepper, cumin, the leaves of a few thyme sprigs, and allspice.
3. Add olive oil, and blend again to form a paste. Add small dashes of water until mixture becomes liquidy and spreadable over chicken.
4. Spread marinade over meat, weaving sprigs of thyme all over the meat as well. Marinade for a few hours or overnight. Sprinkling on extra allspice berries won't hurt.
5. Cook meat close to coals and wood (for a grilling effect, rather than slow barbecuing). If possible, add allspice berries to the coals for a flavorful smoke. Allspice leaves may be used too, but since they are hard to find, we use the spent thyme sprigs.
6. Once food is done, squeeze some extra lime juice over it and drizzle lightly with agave nectar, or light honey. There's not usually much of a sweet component in jerk, but trust us, it works nice.
Serve with items such as mango slices, rice, raita (an Indian yogurt salad), fried plantains, or even just some quality crusty bread with spreadable butter to cool off the heat. Beer-wise, we'd pair jerk barbecue with a hoppy-sweet double IPA.
Posted by Nick at 9:44 AM