Jerk Chicken and Grilled Pineapple Salsa

Jerk ChickenI’m posting this one up not necessarily because I’m proud of the recipe – it’s really an adapted recipe from a couple of different ones that I found on the web, not an ‘original.’  I’m posting it mainly so I’ll never lose it – Kristine said that this was her absolute favorite chicken dish that I’ve ever cooked.  In life.  Ever.

Usually on the weekends, when we’re trying to decide what to cook, we usually just say, ‘something spicy.’  Most of the time, that’s usually something Indian, but I’ve been wanting to branch out into Caribbean and African cuisine.  The pineapple salsa is an original recipe, however.  It’s actually quite essential for balance, since the flavors on the chicken are so bold and savory (serving coconut-milk flavored rice and beans also helps).  So here ’tis:

Ingredients

For jerk chicken…

  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 4 to 5 fresh Scotch bonnet or habanero chile, stemmed and seeded
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (two good-sized limes)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Water, as needed
  • 4 chicken leg quarters

For the salsa…

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 6 to 8 rings of pineapple (fresh is best, of course!)
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. olive oil + extra for basting
  • 1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • Salt, pepper to taste

Procedure

  1. Combine all ingredients for jerk chicken (except chicken) in a blender and pulse until a smooth paste develops.  Add water to thin, as necessary.  Marinade should be a thick liquid – like a semi-melted milkshake.
  2. Reserve a few tablespoons of the marinade to use later as a sauce.  Place chicken in a gallon zip-top back or large Tupperware dish and coat with remaining marinade.  Toss chicken pieces to coat and set aside to marinate in refrigerator – at least for four hours or overnight.  (Tip: Let chicken come up to room temperature for about an hour before cooking.)
  3. To begin salsa, preheat grill to medium-high temperature.  Brush both sides of pineapple rings with oil and dust with chili powder.  Grill for five to eight minutes per side – until pineapple is soft and had dark grill marks.  Remove, allow to cool, and dice.  Mix with remaining ingredients for salsa and set aside.
  4. Increase heat on grill to high.  Remove chicken from marinade and grill for 8 to 10 minutes per side, until nicely browned.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook through (to 180F).  Prepare to fend off curious neighbors.
  5. Remove chicken from grill and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Mix a little water with reserved marinade to create a dipping sauce for chicken.  Serve chicken with salsa on side – also good with Caribbean rice and beans and cole slaw.

Beer pairing: Excellent with any sort of very cold light lager or American wheat beer (such as Bell’s Oberon).

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