OK, it has been a while since we posted the latest in our Essential Meals of Belize series.
And a promise is a promise, so here’s the third in our series of meals every Belizean chef should know.
If you’ve been following these recipe posts, you’ve got the backbone, the rice and beans from “The Famous Belizean Rice and Beans” post (26 June 2013) and “Belizean Stew Chicken” (30 June 2013). They’re are the big ones, the cornerstones, the foundations of Belize cuisine.
Now with the September celebrations coming up when a young (and mature) Belizean’s fancy turns to barbeque, it’s time for that that Belize outdoor favourite, and probably by far the oldest star in the Belize Recipe Book, jerk chicken.
Now, many people think jerk seasoning is a Jamaican thing, but actually, it Caribbean wide, coming from early Amerindian staple ingredients. Over the years, as other cultures added their bits and pieces, jerk evolved from coast to coast and especially island to island, each country’s just a little different to keep things interesting.
In the case of Belize, the Maya influence is very apparent with the emphasis on allspice and chili, two things you see growing all over Belize. The romantic in us sees the Buccaneers adding the rum, and there’s probably a specific cultural reference to each of the other spices listed below.
The point is that just like Belize itself, this is a unique, interesting melange that harmonises beautifully.
This recipe makes a fair bit of the marinade, which you’ll want to keep around. After a week in the fridge it matures quite nicely, and is beautiful for pork, chicken, beef and even seafood. We’ve even marinated big juicy prawns in it before skewering and placing over the grill – yum!
Served next to those rice and beans you’ve mastered, and with some potato salad, your barbeques will be guaranteed hits.
So here we go:
Belizean Jerk Chicken
3 whole chickens, or equivalent amount of breasts, thighs or your favourite cuts.
For the Jerk seasoning:
4 sweet peppers
10 cloves garlic
2 habanero or scotch bonnet peppers. (They’re seriously hot, so many people like to reduce the quantity, or substitute jalapenos or any preferred chili pepper)
1 inch ginger
10 leaves local oregano (if you can find it)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon thyme
½ tablespoon paprika
½ tablespoon cumin
½ tablespoon coarse black pepper
½ tablespoon salt
3 oz dark rum
3 oz lime juice
2 slices orange peel
20 cilantro (or coriander) seeds
4 leaves allspice (or a couple teaspoons of dried allspice)
¼ cup olive oil (to liquefy)
Cut the chicken in 8 pieces and remove all skin, then rinse the chicken well.
Cut the onions, peppers, garlic and ginger roughly before putting in the food processor or blender
Add the dry herbs and spices, the lime-juice and the rum. Blend the mixture on full speed and add as much olive oil as needed to give it a smooth texture.
Rub the jerk seasoning into the chicken pieces and marinate overnight but at least for several hours Place the chicken on a baking tray or grill and roast on a smoky barbeque oven for one-half to an hour on low heat.
Drizzle or brush the chicken with the marinate regularly
The marinade works best after sitting for a while and will keep up to several weeks in the fridge.
Playing Belizean music in the background enhances the taste enormously.
Chaa Creek blog