How about spoiling yourself a little by avoiding the stove during heatwaves and/or hot summer days? At the start of the summer season, we thought to offer you a brand-new creation with the use of a fruit.
We opted for pineapple. This is a fruit that is said to have a wide variety of health benefits. A recent review of the literature reports that in addition to its composition rich in nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, pineapple can:
- Reduce the risk of diabetes and cerebrovascular disease,
- Promote emotional stability,
- Stimulate bone growth,
- Have antibacterial activity,
- Improve digestive function,
- Reduce inflammation,
- Provide antioxidants,
- Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
It is therefore a very nutritious fruit, composed of a wide variety of beneficial molecules, which gives it a high value for the maintenance of good health.
At the start of summer, a pineapple slice with a rum cocktail; it could be very interesting, but we thought of something more complete. We got the idea to present you a Bob Marley-colored pineapple salsa (yellow, green, black and red) with jerk chicken that you can cook on the grill. This chicken and salsa will be relatively simple to make, so much so that you will be able to enjoy your diners without being a slave to the kitchen.
Let’s talk a bit about the cultural history of “jerk” cuisine. The latter is rich in discoveries and exploration. Like many European excursions, made in the New World (the West Indies), Christopher Columbus (one of the great explorers) in 1494 appropriated the entire Jamaican island in the name of Spain. This country already had, for several years, full power over the slave trade and the plundering of Caribbean natural resources.
In 1655, British Admiral William Penn captured Jamaica, profiting from the export of sugar cane, at the expense of African-born slaves. Some of these slaves had escaped from the English navy. These African fugitives were known as “Marron”, meaning escaped slave. They were found everywhere in the West Indies, including Jamaica of course! It should be noted that the first maroons of Jamaica were the Taino Indians, survivors of the genocide practiced by the Spanish conquistadors when they seized the island. The Taíno, Arawaks, and other Indians had inhabited the West Indies and South America for decades.
The term “jerk” refers to a type of cooking in which the star ingredient can be chicken, beef, pork, goat, wild boar, seafood and even vegetables. The protein called “Jerk” is always slowly cooked over a wood fire in which there are large chips of Indian wood, resulting in a smoke with the taste and aroma of allspice. We can say, with hindsight, that ancestral African culture is mixed with Western elements. This culture has culinary traditions connected with Jamaican jerk seasoning. To this day, we could even link these ingredients and customs to “marronnage”. In Jamaica, jerk chicken is known for its biting marinade marked with allspice and hot Scotch Bonnet peppers. We usually make incisions in the meat to penetrate all these beautiful flavors. We serve this dish with rice, beans, plantains or sweet potatoes. As a chef passionate about international cuisine, I am just as excited to offer you a new recipe as to make you understand where it comes from.
So, on the eve of a bright summer, I would like to bring you some sunshine with Jamaican jerk chicken accompanied by a Bob Marley-colored pineapple salsa (of course we are referring to the traditional Rastafari hat). Summer, here we come!
(Recipe for 6 to 12 chicken thighs)
-a hefty bunch of green onions (shallots); white and green parts cut into one-inch-long pieces
– one medium onion, coarsely chopped
-3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
-1 to 5 Scotch Bonnet or Habanero pepper(s) (with seeds if you like the spiciness and the stalk removed)
-1 teaspoon of fresh or dried thyme
-1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher or sea salt
-1 teaspoon of black pepper (freshly ground)
-1/2 teaspoon of ground allspice
-1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
-1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
– a 2-inch piece of ginger, cut into coarse juliennes
-1/2 cup of orange or pineapple juice
-1/8 cup of apple or white cider vinegar
-1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
-1/2 cup of brown sugar or cane sugar
-1/4 cup of vegetable oil (to enhance the consistency of the marinade)
* Note that this marinade is pre-designed for 6 to 12 chicken thighs, or even about 3 to 4 pounds (roughly 6 to 8 cups). You can experiment this marinade with seafood, fish, beef, lamb, turkey, even tofu or chickpeas for vegetarians. The time will be much shorter on seafood or fish; it should not exceed an hour. For the other proteins mentioned above, they can marinate in the refrigerator for 4 to 12 hours.
Bob Marley Pineapple Salsa (ingredients):
-1 pineapple, medium or large, cut into medium to small cubes (core removed)
– 1 large green pepper, diced
-1 large red pepper, diced
– 1 small can of whole corn kernels
-1 1/2 cups of diced papaya (optional)
-1 small hot pepper, deseeded (optional)
-1 large red onion, finely diced
-1 cup of dark raisins
– 1/4 teaspoon of curry powder
– lime juice to taste
– fresh coriander to taste
-salt and pepper to taste
- Just open the lid of your blender (the same one you use to make your smoothies) and throw in all the marinade ingredients. To start, pulse gently so that all the ingredients can liquefy well. This marinade mixes relatively well because of the several aromatics that produce juice. Once your marinade is complete (your jerk sauce), take large resealable plastic bags and arrange the chicken pieces with a generous amount of jerk sauce inside. Marinate in the refrigerator for 4 to 12 hours.
- On the cooking day, you have some options. The first is to cook your chicken pieces on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, for about 2 hours, at 325°F, or cook them on the grill. If you have the chance to do so, cook them on the grill, the flavors will only be more accentuated and tastier. No matter what cooking you choose, check your meat from time to time so that it does not char. However, the latter will still have a dark tint, don’t worry, this is normal.
- While your meat is cooking, you can prepare your pineapple salsa. Chop up all of your ingredients except for the curry powder, lime juice, chopped cilantro, salt and pepper. Refrigerate your salsa until your jerk chicken is ready. When you see your meat about to be cooked, take out your salsa and add the missing herbs.
- You are now ready to taste this long-awaited Caribbean summer dish! This chicken can be served with Creole rice (with beans) or brown rice, corn bread or sweet potatoes. Serve it in beautifully colored plates, decorated with yellow, green, brown, red mosaic; reminiscent of the Jamaican emblem. Otherwise, any plate will do. But the highlight of the show will be your magnificent pineapple salsa which will be very refreshing while being healthy, which will go well with your chicken. Make yourself a good ounce of rum with an equal amount of orange juice, a dash of lime and ice cubes. There you go! You will feel like you’re in Jamaica!
- Mohd Ali M, Hashim N, Abd Aziz S, Lasekan O. Pineapple (Ananas comosus): A comprehensive review of nutritional values, volatile compounds, health benefits, and potential food products. Food Res Int. 2020 Nov;137:109675.