Recipe: Jerk Conch + Other Non-Traditional Jamaican Jerk Dishes

conch shell beachA cherished pastime of my dad’s is fishing. I recall many times he came back boasting about his catch, while some trips brought home nothing but disappointment. Nonetheless, one of my fondest memories is standing around our home-made jerk pan with packets of foil paper housing the most delicious (and spiciest) jerk conch, while tearing off chunks of hard dough bread to sop up the juices.

Conch meat is revered worldwide for its unique taste and aphrodisiac properties. The meat is extracted from its shell, pounded to tenderize, and marinated in jerk seasoning. The little bits of succulence usually get wrapped in foil and thrown on the grill, and is ready for eating in about 30 minutes. What you get is sweet, tender chunks of conch swimming in its own spicy juices from the jerk marinade. Deliciousness!

conch meat
Recipe: Jamaican Jerk Conch (My dad’s recipe)

Tips before cooking conch:

  1. Scrape conch lightly with a sharp knife to clean.
  2. Gut it and use a heavy object, e.g. a hammer to pound it – that will tenderize the conch. You can also pressure it to soften it.
  • 3 lbs. of conch, cleaned, pounded to tenderize
  • 4-5 cups of water
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 stalks escallion
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 small scotch bonnet pepper
  • 2 tbsp. jerk seasoning blend (dad makes his own)
  • Butter (about a stick)
  • 1 pack vegetable soup mix noodles
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. Clean conch and cut into small 1” pieces. Using a pressure cooker, cook the conch in salted water for 20 minutes and strain.
  2. Dice onion, escallion, thyme, garlic and pepper and mix with jerk seasoning and the pack of soup mix noodles. (If jerk seasoning is already salty, separate noodles from the soup mix before combining.)
  3. Combine conch pieces and seasonings and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Put small portions into foil, and seal properly, and place on a grill and cook for 15-20 minutes.

Serve with festival or hard dough bread.

Check out these other non-traditional jerk recipes:

     1. Jerk Lobster (adapted from Jamaicans.com)

Ingredients

  • 4 lobster tails
  • 2 tsp. Jerk Seasoning
  • ½ cup Butter
  • 2 whole scallions
  • 2 tsps. lemon/lime juice
  • ½ tsp. of Jamaica Pickapeppa sauce or 3 drops of Jamaican hot pepper sauce (optional)

Method

  1. Thinly slice the scallions.
  2. Melt the butter in a small skillet.
  3. Lightly sauté the scallions until golden.
  4. Add the 3 teaspoons of lemon juice.
  5. Add ½ teaspoon of Jamaica Pickapeppa sauce or 3 drops of Jamaican hot pepper sauce optional depending on your taste).
  6. Let it simmer for about 1 min. then set aside.
  7. Remove the membrane from the lobster tails.
  8. Use a sharp knife to split the lobster tail in half (length).
  9. Use a brush to put the butter sauce on each tail.
  10. Using the same brush spread the Jerk sauce over the tails especially on the exposed meat. Put your oven setting to broil.
  11. Put the lobster tails in oven on the meat side for 4 minutes, turn and then cook the shell side for 2 minutes.
  12. If you want a more smoked taste, you should cook the lobster tails for 2 minutes on each side in the oven, then place on a barbeque grill for 3 minutes. You may need to add more Jerk sauce if you put it on the barbeque grill.

Serve with Jamaican Festival and/or Bammy. You can also serve with Jamaican hardo bread.

Servings: 4

Read more about jerk lobster and where it can be found here.

2. Jerk Lamb (adapted from: goodwillfarms.com)

Ingredients:

  • /3 cup allspice
  • 3 Scotch bonnet peppers
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 small onion
  • 6 scallions chopped
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • A touch of soy sauce can be added to moisten the mixture.

Instructions:

  1. Blend ingredients until smooth.
  2. Rub the lamb with the blended seasoning.
  3. Leave to marinate for a couple of hours or overnight.
  4. Grill over a low fire until done

Read more about jerk lamb and where it can be found here

3.  Jerk Rabbit (Found at: http://prairibbeancookbook.blogspot.com/2010/09/jerk-rabbit-with-wild-rice-n-peas.html)

Serves 4-6.

  • 3-4 lb rabbit, cut up into pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed from stems
  • 6-10 chopped green onions
  • 1.5 c soy sauce
  • 1 c white vinegar
  • 0.5 c vegetable oil
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp each cloves, nutmeg, and allspice

Method

  1. Place rabbit parts in a bowl.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a blender for about 15 seconds.
  3. Pour mixture over rabbit and coat evenly.
  4. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to broil and place rack at the top.
  6. Broil about 20 minutes, turning meat 2-3 times until browned and crispy on all sides.

Read more about jerk rabbit and where it can be found here.

pan chicken jerk

4. Jerk Pig’s Tail with Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Glaze (By Executive Chef George Matthews – found at www.popupgourmetjamaica.com)

  • PREP TIME: 1 Hour
  • DIFFICULTY:  Easy
  • YIELD:  2 Servings

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. pig’s tail
  • 1/2 jerk marinade (your favourite brand)
  • 1/2 cup strong Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
  • 1/4 cup honey

Directions

  1. Prepare pig’s tail. Wash and cut at joints
  2. Boil for 45 minutes and drain
  3. Season with jerk marinade.
  4. Grill the pig’s tail for 2 minutes on each side, best done on an outdoor grill, otherwise preheat your grill pan.
  5. Boil Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee and honey until reduced by half and syrupy
  6. Pour sauce over pig’s tail. Serve

Read more about jerk pigstail and where it can be found here.

     5. Jerked Goat Ribs

Recipe provided by aspiring Jamaican chef Brittany Blackwood.

Tip: The younger the billy, the sweeter the meat.

  • 2lbs goat ribs
  • 2oz Salt
  • 3oz black pepper
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2oz sugar
  • 2oz vegetable oil
  • 2-4oz fresh mint leaves

Method

Oven cooking:

  1. Depending on the size of the rib, cut into smaller pieces. Cover with 2-3cups of water and cook pressure cooker for 20-30 minutes or until tender.
  2. After you’ve removed it from the pressure cooker, season with salt and pepper and transfer immediately to a grill/jerkpan/griddle/oven dish. (see below for grill/jerk pan method).
  3. Add mint leaves to the remaining liquid in the pot and allow to steep.
  4. Baste the garlic with oil and add to roasting pan/oven dish. Add goat ribs to pan, cover fully with foil and allow to roast for 15 minutes.
  5. After 15 minutes remove garlic from oven and remove cloves from trash. Continue cooking goat uncovered in the oven.
  6. Blend garlic w/ goat mint stock until smooth. Strain.
  7. Reduce the liquid for 5-10 minutes.
  8. While the sauce is being made, the goat should be caramelizing in the oven. If not add a little a bit of sugar to the top.
  9. Leave goat rib in the oven for a next 30 minutes. Begin to baste after 30 minutes with reduced mint liquid and continue to do so for a next 15.
  10. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
  11. Enjoy

Grill/jerk pan cooking:

  1. After removing goat rib from oven (step 4 aboe), place on hot grill surface, turning the goat rib every 20 minutes.
  2. After one hour on the grill, move to a medium low heat side of the grill and periodically baste the goat rib with mint liquid until done. (2hrs)
  3. Goat rib should be soft and caramelized.

Other possibilities:

Other notable jerk dishes – usually found at specialized eateries or at one of the many Jerk Festivals held throughout the year – include: jerked tofu; reindeer (yes); saltfish; and crab. Oh yea, and JERKED ICE CREAM.

Read more about these and other non-traditional ways to enjoy Jamaican jerk in this recently published article by F1rst Media and download their all-new and exciting mobile app to search, discover, connect, and share local places in the Caribbean.

One love,
SC

Advertisements

Stephen’s Triple C Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

There are quite a few things happening here, and I am not too sure how to process it all. First, I am still on a high from the delicious success of this off the cuff recipe. But probably more unsettling is that I am confused, happy, and a tad uncomfortable with how much I ended up liking celery after years of shunning the vegetable.

This recipe idea came about for two main reasons: I bought a pack of celery stalks with the hopes of beginning the journey to acquire the taste for it; and secondly I had just roasted a whole chicken and wanted to repurpose it and create a fun recipe. The end result? A chicken, chickpea and celery salad, with a refreshingly zesty lemon vinaigrette.

celery (1)What you’ll need

  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 14oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups of cooked chicken breast chunks (or your fave part)
  • Juice of one lemon (about ¼ cup)
  • Zest of one lemon (about ½ tsp)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

(See my note on zesting a lemon in a previous post).

Method

  1. Add butter to a skillet over medium heat and sautee chicken chunks until heated through. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Season chickpeas with salt, pepper and cumin.
  3. In the meanwhile, whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest, and olive oil in a mixing bowl. Adjust salt and pepper accordingly.
  4. Combine sauteed chicken breast, celery and seasoned chickpeas in a mixing bowl. Pour vinaigrette and fold to combine.
  5. Transfer to the refrigerator and allow to chill for at least one hour.
  6. Serve chilled.

Recipe notes

  • I deboned a chicken breast from the Chinese five spice whole roasted chicken I made earlier that day. Any roasted chicken will do, and you can even use poached chicken breast or your favourite part.
  • I reheated the chicken breast by sautéing the chunks in a tsp of butter. This allows the chicken to be rehydrated and makes the dish a little heartier.
  • Because they tend to be bland, it’s best to season the chickpeas before combining with the rest of the ingredients. You can use regular S&P or some seasoning salt to give it an extra kick. I added cumin for another depth of flavour.
  • Allow the dish to sit at least an hour in the fridge after adding the lemon vinaigrette. The ingredients will have time to soak up that lemony goodness and the flavours will come together better.

chickpeasI must admit, for someone who was warming up their tastebuds to the aggressive and sharp bite of celery this was a pretty daring move diving head on into a dish with raw celery as a main component. Cooked celery isn’t as strong.

The beauty of the palate is that it’s constantly changing and adapting to new tastes. But sometimes we grow so comfortable in the usual fare that we refuse our palates the right to grow and explore a much bigger, more exciting world of taste. Don’t be that guy.

One love,

SC

Dinner at Tassia’s

When friend-and-fellow-foodie Tassia tweeted that she was about to cook up a storm and was looking for dinner guests, I bit the bait and went right in.

https://twitter.com/tassiastewart/status/367727638355259392

I turned up with wifey Kristal and an empty stomach, ready to devour whatever Tas had in store for us. However, I was refused access into the kitchen and was told to hold my corners. Lol.

Kristal

Kristal

The night was spent chatting away over endless glasses of wine and delectable eats. We started out with a nice bottle of perfectly chilled Yellow Tail Moscato and nibbled away at aperitifs of pepper-stuffed olives, plantain chips, and French macaroons.

aperitifs

Aperitifs: Pepper-stuffed olives, French macaroons, plantain chips, Moscato

And a very luxurious Quiche Lorraine made by some French friends that were visiting her.

quiche lorraine

Quiche Lorraine

But the highlight of the night was Tassia’s chunky chicken penne alfredo. I’ve got to admit it was one of the best pasta dishes I’ve had. Perfectly cooked penne with just the right amount of cream, seasoning, and plumped chunks of chicken breast fit for meat lovers, aka me.

Chunky chicken penne pasta

My sage worked well, too.

https://twitter.com/tassiastewart/status/367862132458934272

By this time we were well on our way with the second bottle of wine.

J. Moreau & Fils Chablis

Second bottle, J. Moreau & Fils Chablis

Oh, I almost forgot the scrumptious garden salad which started the entrée round. The freshest medley of lettuce, olives, carrots, bell peppers, sweet corn and raisins, topped with grated white cheddar and drizzled with a divine balsamic vinaigrette, one of my fave salad dressings. This definitely cleansed our palates and prepared our tastebuds for the rich, impending penne alfredo.

Garden Salad

https://twitter.com/tassiastewart/status/368031679010463745

The night ended with a reminder that the following day was a workday. #womp Nonetheless, everyone was pretty buzzed to even be bothered. All in all, it was a great night spent with great friends, great food, and yes, great wine.

Live. Love. Eat.

SC

Spicy Curried Shrimp Lettuce Wraps with Creamy Peanut Sauce

“What good is our best dish if we have not friends to share it with?” – Stephen Charoo, 2013

will cook for friends

With this quote in mind, I can’t say enough how much I love to cook for loved ones. There is just something eerily euphoric when I see the reactions from a well received dish of my creation.

That said, my good friend Jo-Anne and I have been plotting to have a cook-up at her house for some time now.

Today it finally happened.

The menu was shy of ambitious (in terms of volume that is) but we fared well.

This dish was inspired by my trip to The Cheesecake Factory while visiting my aunt and cousin in Chicago, Illinois a few years ago. Theirs was a Thai lettuce wrap with chicken satays, but of course, I had to put my own twist to it. Lettuce wraps are pretty fun to eat, and puts control in the hands of the guest. Serve the fillings on a platter with whole lettuce leaves on the side, and let your friends and family wrap their own.

Jo-Anne

Jo-Anne

 Starter: Spicy Curried Shrimp Lettuce Wraps with Creamy Peanut Sauce

Camera 360

Ingredients:

  • 1 head fresh iceberg lettuce (6-8 leaves)
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 carrot, shredded or cut into thin strips
  • ¼ cup black olives, seeded, chopped
  • ½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • Peanut sauce (recipe below)
  • Curried shrimp (recipe below)

Camera 360

Method:

  1. Wash and dry the lettuce leaves and arrange on a larger platter.
  2. Arrange accompanying fillings alongside lettuce leaves.
  3. Let your guests create their own lettuce wraps by choosing a filling or fillings and placing it on a leaf along with the peanut sauce and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
  4. Fold the leaf in half and enjoy!
toasted almonds

toasted almonds

Curried shrimp

Ingredients:

  • 1 24 oz. pack deveined, shelled, small shrimp
  • one medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, 2 finely chopped, 2 smashed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • cumin powder (geera)
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme leaves
  • 1 small scotch bonnet pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. oil for stir-frying

Method:

  1. In a bowl, combine shrimp, onion, chopped garlic, bay leaf, thyme leaves, and pepper and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes for flavours to develop.
  2. Mix curry powder and cumin powder in 1/4 cup water.
  3. In a sauté pan, heat 2 tbsp. oil, and add the two cloves of smashed garlic and allow to burn and flavour the oil. Remove and discard garlic after about 3-4 mins.
  4. Add liquid curry mixture and stir constantly until it reduces to about 1/3 or to a viscous consistency.
  5. Add shrimp and cook uncovered on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Try to get as much water to evaporate.
  6. Remove from heat, transfer to a serving bowl and set aside.

Peanut Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame seed oil
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger extract
  • 1/4 cup water

Method:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame seed oil and ginger extract until well mixed. Gradually incorporate water until texture is smooth and creamy.
peanut butter sauce

peanut butter sauce

“Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul.”  – Dorothy Day

This starter is pretty good on texture and colour, and surely does hit about every taste bud. Create your own lettuce wraps with your favourite ingredients. And, if you’re looking to drop a few pounds or just to knock off eating healthy from your 2013 resolutions list, then this is definitely a fun and simple way to do it!

Camera 360

Of course, this was only the starter. The rest of the meal included a scrumptious oven-BBQ chicken and potato medallions for the entrée, Jo’s very own creation, and out-of-the-box (literally, not figuratively) brownie. Lol. Sides included blanched string beans, fried ripe plantains, steamed rice, and corn-on-the-cob.

Jo's world-class bbq chicken

Jo’s world-class bbq chicken

corn-on-the-cob

corn-on-the-cob

my plate

my plate

One love,

S.C.

 

Chicken with Eggplant Casserole

By now, you should be pretty aware of my love for eggplants. Yes, that spongy, rich dark purple vegetable that is like a culinary canvas waiting to absorb any spice you throw at it. I first discovered this recipe on a vacation visit to Trinidad, during my stay in Colombia. This has since then gone down in my books as one of my favourite applications of eggplants in a non-vegetarian dish. I urge you to try this recipe, even if you are totally opposed to (afraid of?) eggplants. I promise you your taste buds will thank you.

Chicken with Eggplants Casserole Ingredients:

2 lbs seasoned chicken pieces (see below for my choice of seasonings)
1 large onion, sliced
1 tsp minced garlic
2 medium tomato, chopped
1 tsp. cumin seeds (geera)
1 tsp. brown sugar
½ scotch bonnet pepper, seeded, finely chopped
1 small bell pepper (green), roughly chopped
½ tsp each dried herbs & spices: paprika, basil, oregano
1 cup vegetable stock/chicken broth
1 tsp brown sugar
Cooking spray to coat casserole dish

Method:

  1. Place sliced eggplants in a colander.
  2. Sprinkle liberally with salt and let stand for at least an hour (see my previous post on this process).
  3. Bake chicken in a casserole dish (uncovered) at 360°F for 40 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Rinse eggplants thoroughly to remove excess salt, and drain. Sauté with onion, garlic, tomato, scotch bonnet pepper, bell pepper, dried herbs and spices.
  5. Add broth/stock and bring to a boil. Adjust salt as needed.
  6. Reduce heat and let simmer for 8-10 minutes. Add sugar at the last 2 minutes and stir to combine.
  7. Pour mixture over chicken and return to oven and bake at 360°F for 10 minutes.
  8. Cook for an additional 3 minutes under high broil.

Serves 5-6.

As for seasoning the chicken, here’s what I used: onion, garlic, thyme, cumin powder (geera), black pepper, paprika, Maggi All Purpose seasoning (one of my faves!). Refrigerate to marinate for at least one hour. Overnight is always better. Remove from refrigerator 15 minutes prior to baking to bring to room temperature.

A quick tip: At the last 2 minutes or so during simmering the eggplants,  I drain the excess drippings from the chicken and allow the eggplants to soak up all this goodness.

So, what do you eat this with? My personal faves are roti (indian flat bread – whole wheat, of course), or brown jasmine rice. What would you pair this with?

One love,
S.C.

chicken and eggplants dish

Honey BBQ Chicken with Herb-Infused Baked Potatoes

Honey-BBQ Chicken w/ Herb-Infused Baked Potatoes, Blanched String Beans and Carrots

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, when most people are preoccupied with  trying to figure out what they’re going to give up for 40 long days. Me? I am home, cooking. Not for any particular reason, but just because I’m in one of those moods that require total tranquility and what better way to do that than cooking?

I opened my freezer, saw some chicken and decided to go with that. Then to my fridge and discovered some veggies that mother dearest had brought me a few days ago. Other than the fact that I am trying to incorporate more veggies into my diet, I thought that it would do me well to use these up before they go bad. (I can hear mom’s voice in my head scolding me for wasting food.)

And off we go.

Chicken (Cook time: 50 minutes)

I started with marinating the chicken. If you know me, this is usually a mental battle to decide on what spices I should use. (I have a barrage of herbs and spices in my kitchen; I’ll do a post on this some time hereafter.) This is what I decided on:

Ingredients:

six pieces of your favourite cuts of chicken (about 3 lbs)

one medium potato, cut in 1/2 inch medallions

two cloves of garlic, finely chopped

one small onion, finely chopped

1/2 scotch bonnet pepper, to taste (I recommend de-seeding these if you’re not into scorching your tongue)

1/2 tsp each of dried herbs: oregano, basil, thyme

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp sea salt

Sandburst brand annatto with pimento 

Camera 360Method:

Rinse chicken with water and pat dry. Add rest of ingredients and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour. Overnight is better. Remove from fridge 10 minutes prior to cooking time and preheat oven to 400°F.

Cover with aluminium foil and cook for 30 minutes  at 400°F then remove foil and lower heat to 350°F and cook for 20 minutes more, or until juices run clear (not pink) when a sharp knife is inserted.

I’ll explain the sauce separately (see below). After chicken is finished baking, add sauce to coat chicken and return uncovered to broiler for 3 minutes.

Serves 3.

Honey BBQ Sauce

Ingredients:

3/4 cup red wine (If it’s not good enough to drink, it’s not good enough to cook with)

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup tomato paste (ketchup will do)

2 tbsp honey

1/4 tbsp dried basil

1/2 tbsp mushroom-flavoured dark soy sauce

Method:

In a saucepan add olive oil and allow to heat for a minute on medium heat. Combine tomato paste,  honey, basil and soy sauce and stir to combine. Then add red wine, stir, and allow to reduce to a third, stirring constantly to ensure sauce doesn’t burn. Reduce heat if necessary.

Herb-Infused Baked Potatoes

I love potatoes, and even more so when they’re still in their skin. I almost never remove the skins as they add colour, flavour and texture to the dish. These aromatic, tasty, soft-to-the-centre potatoes make a perfect side dish.

potatoIngredients:

3 medium-sized potatoes

3 sprigs of thyme

additional dried herbs: rosemary, basil

S&P to taste

olive oil

aluminium foil

Method:

Cut down the middle of the potato without cutting it in half. Insert sprig of thyme, sprinkle with olive oil, and add dried herbs and S&P. Wrap in foil and bake for 30-45 minutes or until potatoes are tender to the touch. (Of course, this is done simultaneously with the chicken).

Blanched String Beans and Carrots

This is one of my fave veggie combos; it’s really yummy and simple to prepare. The hardest part is prepping string beans and carrots.

Ingredients:

1 lb string beans, de-stemmed

2-3 medium-sized carrots, peeled, cut to 1/4 inch thickness and 3 inches in length

1 tbsp olive oil

Dried herbs: basil, thyme, rosemary

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp lime juice

Large bowl with ice cubes and water to shock veggies after blanching

string beans and carrot

(Blanching: A cooking process wherein the food substance is plunged into boiling water, removed after a brief, timed interval, and usually shocked in an ice bath.

ShockingA preparation technique  that “shocks” the food item by exposing it to ice water after the food item has been blanched. The process  is undertaken to immediately stop the food from cooking and to preserve the flavor, the food color and the texture at the point when the shocking occurs.

End result: bright-green, crisp string beans as opposed to nasty, soggy, dark grey green; and bright-orange carrots that crunch to the bite).

Method:

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add carrots and blanch for 1 1/2 minutes. Add string beans and blanch for an additional two minutes. Remove, drain, and IMMEDIATELY add to ice bath to stop cooking.

Remove after about 2-3 minutes and set aside. Coat with olive oil and add salt, dried herbs, S&P, and lime juice. Mix to coat. Serve as a side.

The finished product looked a little like this:

Of course, what better way to wash this down than with a nice glass of Merlot. No, it is not too late to send in your Valentine’s request. I’m still open.

Looking forward to those requests 🙂

Love,

Steve.