Jerk Chicken + Pineapple Salsa
When I was young, the summer was a special time of year. School was out, the days were long, and the sports plentiful. We played soccer in the streets and backyards, and if we were lucky, my dad would man the grill. Whenever there was a cookout in a neighboring town, a classmate’s birthday party, or a soccer tournament, my dad and I would take our show on the road. I was charged with bringing the cooler with dad’s “special chicken."
When we arrived, I distinctly remember people asking: “so, did you bring the jerk?” My dad would always look down at me, smile, and then nod. I tried not to take it too personally, even if I didn't totally understand the joke. Everyone seemed to have a great time and they always loved the food, but it wasn't until several years later when I was promoted to grill captain that I learned those people were referring to his jerk chicken!
Some time later, before heading off to culinary school, my mom and I collected and compiled all of the family recipes. The byproduct of our work was a cookbook that we distributed to a handful of our closest friends. The recipe that continues to get the most accolades? The (in)famous jerk...
What follows is that very recipe: jerk chicken with pineapple salsa. If you are feeling overwhelmed by how many ingredients there are, fear not! The marinade is easy (the blender/food processor does all the work) and it lasts several weeks in the refrigerator so it can be eaten again and again if you make it in larger batches!
4 boneless chicken breasts (for more flavor choose breasts with skin)
- 1 ripe pineapple -- small dice
- 1 red pepper -- small dice
- 3 scallions -- small dice
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ cup lime juice
- Finely chopped cilantro for garnish
- 1 medium jalapeno seeded and minced
- scallions --chopped
- 3 large cloves of garlic -- chopped
- 1 small spanish or yellow onion -- chopped
- 3 medium jalapeno, stem and seeds removed -- chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, hard stems removed
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 1 teaspoons black pepper
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
Optional:* ½ teaspoon cloves * 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
- ½ cup fresh lime juice
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
So, did you bring the jerk?
1. Blend all the marinade ingredients in a food processor or high powered blender until smooth.
2. Place chicken breasts in large, resealable plastic bag and cover with marinade. Shake vigorously and close the bag, being sure to push any air out before sealing it.
3. Refrigerate chicken overnight (or up to 24 hours,) turning over once.
4. Combine all ingredients for salsa, cover, and refrigerate for 4-6 hours.
5. Before cooking, remove chicken from refrigerator for one hour as this ensures even cooking.
6. Preheat grill (or heavy bottom pan if cooking indoors) over high heat.
7. Shake excess marinade from chicken and then place on grill, lower heat to medium.
8. Thoroughly brown all sides ~ approximately 3-4 minutes
9.Lower heat to medium-low, cover chicken with foil/lid and cook through, approximately 5-6 minutes.
10. Serve chicken with chilled pineapple salsa -- done!
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