Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Pan-Grilled Jerk Chicken Skewers with Pineapple-Jalapeno Salsa

Store-bought jerk marinades and sauces are usually thin enough to be pourable, often because of added corn syrup. My research tells me that traditional Caribbean jerk doesn’t include that stuff.

Instead, fresh, raw ingredients make up a deliciously spicy, savory, aromatic, and, yes, slightly chunky mixture to use as a marinade or condiment. It’s not very pourable, but it sticks to the meat.

Ingredients vary, but garlic, onion, chiles, and allspice are pretty much must-haves. But the most important ingredient in jerk is time. As in all day and all night. Give this wonderful Caribbean favorite 24 hours to develop its deepest, richest flavors and turn the chicken incredibly tender—even with that wonderful char of pan grilling. You—and your guests—will be very happy.

I put together a simple, fresh, fruity salsa to serve with the jerk chicken—the complementary flavors bring terrific balance to the dish. Note: If fresh pineapple is in season, go for that. If not, choose canned chunks packed in 100% pineapple juice, not syrup.

Serves 4


For the Chicken
  • 5 scallions, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 habanero chiles, stemmed and chopped
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup oregano leaves
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1-1/2 tbsp ground allspice
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 4 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1-1/4 lbs), trimmed of fat and each cut into 4 strips
Jerk Marinade Ingredients
Boneless Chicken Thigh
Trimmed Thigh
Ready for Marinade
For the Salsa
  • 2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper 

For the Chicken
  1. Place the first 9 ingredients (through salt) in a food processor and process until pureed. Scrape into a medium bowl and add the chicken. Turn several times to completely coat.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least overnight. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before cooking.
Ready to Puree
Jerk Marinade 
Chicken in Jerk Marinade
Jerk Marinated Chicken
  1. Thread 4 pieces of chicken, scraping off excess marinade, onto each of 4 skewers (soaked in water 30 minutes, if wood).
  2. Heat a cast-iron griddle (or large cast-iron skillet) over medium-high heat and brush with oil. Grill the skewers until lightly charred and just cooked through, turning 2-3 times, 15 minutes total.

Skewers Ready to Grill 
Skewers Beginning to Grill 
Grilled Skewers
Serve the skewers hot with salsa (recipe follows) alongside.

Pan-Grilled Jerk Chicken Skewers with Pineapple-Jalapeno Salsa
For the Salsa
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. (Or cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours.)
Pineapple-Jalapeno Salsa

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