Jul 152013

Jerk Chicken

           For the past year or so we’ve cut back on our meat consumption considerably.  About six days a week, give or take, we eat vegan.  Doing so is far better for our health, and far better for the poor animals who otherwise would suffer in industrial slaughterhouses.  But…..  Yes, there is a but.  Meat, poultry, and seafood taste so ridiculously good.  I’ll admit it.  The atavistically carnivorous portion of my little brain broadcasts that truth to me quite clearly.  I adore the vegan food that we make.  It is truly delicious in its own right.  But sometimes, once in a while, we indulge those atavistic cravings.

          Sometimes we opt for a pizza.  We are lucky to have nearby a pizza place that makes the most wonderfully high-quality pie.  A yeasty, chewy thin crust.  Both red sauce and pesto swirled together on top.  And cheese, such very good cheese.  It is rich, succulent, nearly-meaty goodness.  One of those cheese pizzas satisfies the craving quite nicely.  But maybe once a month even that fantastic cheese pie won’t quite do.  That’s when we make something even more naughty.  Usually chicken, fish, or shrimp.  (We mostly stay away from mammals, with a rare exception, such as the small bit of bacon found in Creamy Potato Soup with Red Chard.)

          Eating meat so infrequently, we make it count when we do.  We prepare something so simple yet tasty that the cravings are satisfied for a long while after.  This jerk chicken recipe is one of our new favorites.  (I adapted it from many recipes, including one by Jenni Fleetwood.)  The flavors of the marinade are wonderful, infusing the chicken but in no way overpowering it.  The result is tender, smoky, spicy and yet somehow delicate.  Jerk chicken is the perfect treat for a gorgeous summer evening, as the sun descends behind the mountains and breezes blow through pine trees and aspens.

Jerk Chicken

8 chicken thighs or 10 chicken legs, or a combination of both  (bone-in, with skin)

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 tsp dried thyme

¾ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

2 tsp brown sugar

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 green onions, thinly sliced crosswise

1 hot chile, minced (or more, to taste)

1 T white vinegar

2 T oil

Juice of 1 lime

          In a large bowl mix together all of the ingredients, except the chicken.  Add the chicken and combine well with the marinade.  (Your hands are the best tool to accomplish this task.)  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  The next morning, remove the bowl from the fridge, stir the chicken, and allow it to come to room temperature throughout the day, until you are ready to cook.**

          To cook, prepare a grill so that the heat is moderate and even.  Grill the chicken, covered, turning now and again, until it is cooked through to the bone.  This will take about a half hour or so, on average.

**The chicken is considerably better if you allow it to marinate for the full time suggested.  If, however, you can’t start the process the day before, simply prepare the chicken with the marinade in the morning, let it sit at room temperature throughout the day, and then grill it when needed.

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