Friday, August 21, 2009

Jerk chicken sauce

Jerk sauce is a Jamaican delight, but not for the faint of heart! This sauce is HOT!!

That said, you can vary this recipe to make it milder or hotter to suit your own family. When my kids were little, Nate could eat the hottest salsa without a tear, but Dani always had stronger taste buds and less tolerance for heat. Now that she’s older, she tells me she’s trained herself to tolerate stronger flavors…so bring it on, Mom!

The basis of jerk sauce is allspice, thyme, and chile peppers. The traditional Jamaican chili pepper is the Scotch Bonnet, which also happens to be one of the hottest chilies on the planet! I usually can’t find them locally, so I settle for chipotle or jalapeno peppers. As for the thyme, it’s nice if you can get fresh, but dried will do it. Same for the allspice: you can use the berries or the powdered dry allspice, whichever is available. There are unlimited variations on this sauce, and it seems that each cook comes up with their own. Many other spices, herbs, and veggies can be added to the mix, but here’s one of my favorites:

Jerk Sauce for Chicken

1/4 c prepared mustard
1/4 c lime juice (about 2 limes)
3 T minced fresh chili pepper of your choice
2 T fresh thyme or 2 t dried
1 T minced garlic
1 T ground cumin or cumin seeds
2 t powdered allspice
Salt and pepper

Crush and mush all the herbs and garlic. Mix together all ingredients and use to coat your chicken. Let the coating dry on the pieces before grilling or oven-roasting. The idea is to get a good crunchy hot crust on the outside of the chicken and to have the meat be tender, juicy, and sweet. To achieve that, cook long and low temp. I use a 350 oven for 45 - 50 minutes rather than a higher faster oven, or if you’re going to grill it, keep the temp medium.

You can use this sauce on pork or firm-fleshed fish as well :-)

Image: Wikimedia: Secretlondon

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