Jerk chicken with mango & avocado salsa

Jerk chicken with mango & avocado salsa20130504-211712.jpg

I’m trying to kid myself with this dish. Having popped down to spend a long bank holiday with my mum on the coast in Brighton, I was rather disappointed to find the sun cowering behind the clouds today. Yesterday, typically, was beautiful. But today, everyone felt a little sad and let down (I don’t know why really, we should be used to shit British weather on bank holidays by now) and I wanted to cheer everyone up again with some summery food!

So, step forward jerk chicken. I chose to serve this up with my normal spicy tomato salsa, some garlicky roasted squash chunks and a new salsa that I fancied trying, something I dreamed up, combining mangos and avocados.

Having never made jerk chicken, I was reluctant to use just any old recipe from the net. I chose to follow Guardian writer Felicity Cloake’s (whose column is dedicated to perfecting a particular dish, and whose recipes I regularly try out with great success: see Aubergine parmigiana for another Felicity creation) perfect jerk chicken recipe. Whilst she prefers to barbecue her meat, i didn’t have the weather or equipment to suit and, luckily, she provided an alternative baked and griddled version.

It really worked out extremely well. It tasted like we were eating barbecued food because the spice paste charred so nicely in the oven and pan. Also, it probably helped that I served it alongside some griddled corn on the cob, a staple BBQ food in our family.

So everyone was happy. Therefore, it was a success! Note, I have tamed this recipe slightly – there’s definitely spice but it wasn’t mega mega hot. If I was cooking for just myself and not my 17-year-old brother, I’d add at least one more scotch bonnet.

For the chicken…

You will need:

6 free range chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
6 free range chicken drumsticks, bone in and skin on
1 1/2 tbspn allspice berries
1 1/2 tbspn black pepper corns
1 Tspn ground cinnamon
1 Tspn freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 Tspn fresh thyme leaves
6 spring onions, the white and green bits, v finely chopped
3 scotch bonnet chillis, v finely chopped
1 1/2 tbspn dark brown sugar
3 tbspn dark soy sauce
1 1/2 Tspn salt
The juice of 1 1/2 limes

Method:

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1- grind the allspice and peppercorns in a large pestle and mortar; once ground well, add the cinnamon, nutmeg, chilli, spring onion and thyme
2- grind everything thoroughly into a fairly chunky but well combined paste
3- spoon the paste into a large bowl and mix in the sugar, salt, soy sauce and lime juice; add the chicken to the bowl and use your hands to massage the paste into the meat, getting right under the skin
4- leave the chicken to marinate for at least 6 hours before cooking
5- when ready to cook, preheat the oven to 180 degrees; once got, spread the chicken and juices onto a large deep roasting tray and cook for 1 hour
6- after an hour, remove the chicken from the oven and heat some oil in a griddle pan; charr the chicken (in batches) over a high heat, til it turns crispy and dark
7- serve immediately with lots of napkins!

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As mentioned earlier, I also served this dish alongside a mango & avocado salsa, which was the perfect refreshing accompaniment. Here’s the recipe:

Mango & avocado salsa

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You will need:
250g fresh, ripe mango, cut into small dice
1 ripe avocado, diced
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 handful of fresh coriander, chopped
300g black eyed beans
The juice of 1 lime
Salt, pepper

Method:

It couldn’t be easier-just mix of of the ingredients and season to taste. Easy! Serve immediately

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