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Author Notes: This is a west indian curry where the protein instead of being braised in the curry itself is rubbed and marinated with a Jamaican Jerk spice paste and then grilled over a wood/charcoal fire.
I think the combination of thyme, allspice and scotch bonnet peppers is one of those magical culinary combinations where the sum of three very strong aromas and flavors is greater than any one individually. I'm frankly surprised it hasn't become even more popular.
The heat from the scotch bonnets can be adjusted in both parts of the dish so don't let a sensitive palate keep you away.
With all of the different vegetables and sweet fruits this is the type of curry that would be served at a wedding or on a holiday.
While this recipe is written for chicken I've made it with swordfish, shrimp and lobster tails by substituting the chicken stock for a good shrimp or lobster stock. For most any seafood overnight marinating with the paste can be cut to 3 or 4 hours.
Preparing both spice mixtures is the most time consuming part of preparation so if you like the dish you can prepare a larger quantity of both. The paste freezes well and the curry spice can keep like any curry powder.
So dust off that old Bob Marley record, put on your flip flops, crack open a cold red stripe or pour your favorite rum drink and fill your kitchen with exotic aromas. —David
Jamaican Jerk spice rub/paste
- 1/2 medium onion roughly chopped
- 1/4 red bell pepper roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 3 scallions roughly chopped
- 1-6 scotch bonnet peppers (halved and seeds and ribs removed)
- 2 tablespoons whole allspice (see next ingredient)
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns toasted in a dry skillet with allspice and coarsely ground in a spice grinder
- 2 tablespoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon 5 spice powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 16 chicken thighs (or other pieces)
For the curry
- 2 teaspoons whole allspice
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon anise seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon Turmeric powder
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 3 cups rich chicken stock
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1-5 scotch bonnet peppers cut in half and seeds/stems removed
- 4 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 sweet red bell peppers
- 2 eggplants (peeled and cut into 1 inch rounds)
- 4 larger red or gold waxy potatoes peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 large sweet onions diced
- 5 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 tablespoons Tamarind paste
- 2 ripe mangoes peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 ripe plantains(black) peeled and cut into slices
- 1 large ripe papaya peeled and sliced
- juice of 1 lime
- 3 tablespoons dark rum (I use Myers)
- vegetable oil
- 16 cups cooked white rice (while I prefer Basmati any rice...even brown or a mix would be fine.)
- For the Jerk paste combine oil and all ingredients above in food processor and pulse into a paste. Add soy sauce slowly...you wante a paste but one that is a little more wet than dry. If you use all of the soy sauce and still need more liquid add water a teaspoon at a time. Rub paste all over chicken including up under the skin. Refrigerate overnight and allow chicken to come to room temperature before grilling. Remember to always wear gloves when working with scotch bonnet peppers. In determining heat I would say 1 pepper gives noticeable heat, 2 would be considered hot but tolerable by most americans, 4 would be similar to what most Jamaican jerk stands would use and 5 or 6 for those who love their heat and can tolerate it. I personally prefer to add a little more heat here and a little less in the curry itself but to each their own. If you are extremely sensitive to heat you can leave it all out or add 1/2 or 1 whole jalapeno. You never want heat to overpower a dish and take away your ability to savor and enjoy it so no need for bravado here...when in doubt opt for less.
- Start a charcoal and/or wood fire. Roast the sweet bell peppers until black all over, place in paper bag to steam for a minute and then remove charred skin under running water. Remove stem and seeds and cut into 1 inch pieces. Brush eggplant with oil and grill on both sides for 2-3 minutes. enough to mark and add a little smoky flavor. Remove and cut into 1 inch pieces. Grill chicken on medium to med high hot spots of grill being careful to not burn the skin (or paste) but to color it well. Then move to cooler part of grill. cover grill and allow it to smoke until finished. Don't overcook In a medium sauce pan combine stock, coconut milk, bay leaves, scotch bonnet pepper halves and then water. Simmer for approximately 20 minutes and then remove bay leaves and pepper halves. Use the heat scale as suggested for paste to decide how many peppers to steep. (pepper halves can be rinsed and frozen to use again) In a dry skillet toast the first six ingredients, add the thyme leaves and grind in a spice grinder to a powder. Add the cinnamon, turmeric and salt. In a large deep skillet or dutch oven add 2 T of oil and heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft. Add spices and allow to bloom. Then add eggplant, potatoes and squash. If you need a bit more oil then add. Cook veg until barely soft. (about 10 minutes) Add stock/coconut milk and tamarind paste and simmer 10 more minutes. Add plantains and sweet peppers and simmer 5 more minutes. Add mango and papaya and simmer 2 more minutes. Add lime juice and rum and simmer 1 more minute. Mound 2 cups of rice in the center of shallow bowls and ladle the curry around. Top rice mound with grilled chicken. Garnish with fresh thyme.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Spicy Recipe