Friday, January 9, 2009

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Jerk Chicken is believed to have been conceived when the Maroons introduced African meat cooking techniques to Jamaica which were combined with native Jamaican ingredients and seasonings used by the Arawak. The method of smoking meat for a long period of time served two practical purposes, keeping insects away from the raw meat and preserving it for longer once it has been cooked. This process also introduces a strong smoky flavour to the meat.

There are two commonly held theories regarding how the name "Jerk" came to be used. One is that it originates from the Spanish word "Charqui", used to describe dried meat. Over time this term evolved from "Charqui" to "Jerky" to "Jerk". Another theory is that the name derives from the practice of jerking (poking) holes in the meat to fill with spices prior to cooking. Nowadays, the word "Jerk" is used as a noun to describe the seasoning applied to jerked food and as a verb to describe the process of cooking used.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

• 1/2 teaspoon Jamaican jerk seasoning (such as Spice Islands)
• 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
• 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves • Cooking spray
• 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
• 1 teaspoon brown sugar
• 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
• 1 (16-ounce) jar sliced peeled mango, drained and chopped (such as Del Monte SunFresh) Preparation:
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon of salt evenly over chicken. Coat chicken with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until done. While chicken cooks, combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, cilantro, and remaining ingredients. Serve salsa with chicken.
Contributed by Becki Cutler