Thursday, January 5, 2012

Feast Like You're On Vacation: Main Course

Happy New Year!  As we rang in 2012, I resolved to finish things I start.  Now that we're a few days in to the new year, I thought a good place to start would be this blog, since I left it hanging half way through our Caribbean dinner.  After a six month hiatus, it's time to wrap up this four part series.

On the cold, cloudy and snowy days ahead, it wouldn't hurt to remind yourself of warmer weather and flavors of the Caribbean.  In part three of this four part series, I will share a main course menu that will have you feasting like you're on vacation.  Our beautiful dinner plate consisted of Jerk Chicken served with Bahamian Peas-Rice and Sweet Plantains.  The combination of flavors was fantastic and a great ode to the Caribbean islands of the Bahamas and Jamaica.

Jerk Chicken, Bahamian Peas-Rice and Sweet Plantains

Jerk Chicken (printable recipe)
This chicken was so delicious, it doesn't deserve to be called Jerk. It was wonderfully seasoned with a perfect blend of sweet, spicy and smokey flavors and beautifully grilled by my wonderful husband. He was actually the one who made the marinade too, so I can't really take the credit on this.

1 Tbsp. ground allspice
1 Tbsp. ground thyme
1 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. ground sage
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. soy sauce
3/4 c. white vinegar
1/2 c. orange juice
Juice from 1 lime
1 jalapeno pepper, finely minced
1  medium onion, chopped
1/2 bunch scallions, chopped
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
1 whole chicken, cut in pieces

Combine all of the spices, sugar, oil, soy sauce, vinegar, orange juice and lime in a large bowl.  Then add the jalapeno and onions,  mixing well.  Add the chicken and toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate over night, or for at least two hours.

Using a charcoal grill, cook chicken over direct heat, basting occasionally with the marinade and turning over once or twice.  Since grilling temperatures and flames vary, move chicken around as necessary until browned and cooked through.  The pieces should register 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer.

Bahamian Peas-Rice (printable recipe)
At the Iguana Cafe we stopped at for lunch while in in Nassau, part of the meal was Bahamian Peas-Rice, a nod to black beans and rice with a twist.  It is a delicious blend of long-grain rice, pigeon peas, onions, and a hint of tomato and smokey flavors.  One tip to get you started on this one:  If you don't have a saucepot with a tight fitting lid, get one!  My saucepans have pour spouts on them, so it allows too much steam to escape during cooking, often resulting in undercooked rice.

1/4 c. butter
3 slices bacon, diced
1 large onion, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. ketchup
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
15 oz. can pigeon peas, with liquid
1 2/3 c. water
1/2 c. uncooked white rice
1 sprig fresh thyme, chopped

In a large saucepan with a tight fitting lid, melt butter over medium heat.  Add bacon and cook until evenly brown.  Stir in onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Mix in the tomato, tomato paste, ketchup, salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until tomatoes have softened and mixture is somewhat homogenous.

Stir in the pigeon peas (you can use blacked eyed peas if you can't find something labeled "pigeon peas") and their liquid, water, rice and thyme.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low.  Cook 40 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed.  Fluff with a fork and serve.

Sweet Plantains (printable recipe)
For an appetizer, we had tostones: twice-fried green plantains.  For the main course, I decided to make sweet plantains, to compliment the spicy and smokey flavors in the chicken and peas-rice.  There are three major differences between tostones and sweet plantains; you use plantains as ripe and black as you can find them instead of green, you cut them lengthwise instead of into slices, and lastly, you only fry them once instead of the double-fry we did on the tostones.  That makes them healthier, right?

3 ripe plantains
2/3 cup corn oil
Brown Sugar

Peel the plantains and slice into 1/4 to 1/2 thick slices lengthwise.  Fill a large skillet with enough corn oil to go a little over half way up the plantain slices you have made, and set it over medium heat.  The oil is up to temperature when you can place a drop of water in the pan and it pops and sizzles.  Fry the plantains briefly in batches, for a minute or two per side.  Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking, turning occasionally, until they are brown and caramelized.

Transfer the plantains to paper towels and sprinkle with white or brown sugar.  Let cool slightly and serve with the main dish.


  1. This sounds delicious. I am new to your blog, so I took sometime to browse through your earlier posts. I'm so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you share with your readers and I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

    1. Thanks Mary. I just had a baby and am hoping to get back to my blog and share some more recipes very soon. Stay tuned!