If you’ve never had (or heard of) jerk seasoning, it is a sweet and spicy mix of flavors unique to the caribbean. I had to balance cost and convenience this weekend so I ended up using a bottled marinade. If you’d like to try your hand at making it from scratch, here is a great recipe. I was a little disappointed in the selection of pre-made jerk marinades at my local stores (I checked two stores). Even though I went with an inexpensive brand, the resulting chicken was mouth-watering delicious.
I paired the sweet and spicy chicken with some black beans that were simmered with jalapenos and garlic, sweet pineapple chunks and fried plantains all over a bed of savory coconut rice. The slight creaminess of coconut rice is perfect to mellow out the spices in the jerk marinade and jalapeno black beans. If other tropical fruits, like mango or papaya, happen to be on sale, scoop those up and use them in place of the pineapple chunks. I garnished with green onion but cilantro would also be an appropriate match.
Perhaps the best part about this recipe is that it was so quick and easy… everything came together in the amount of time that it took to cook the rice. So, although it looks complex, this could easily be a gourmet week-night dinner!
Jamaican Jerk Chicken Bowls
- 1½ cups long grain jasmine rice $1.31
- 1 can (1.5 cups) light coconut milk $1.49
- 3 cloves garlic $0.18
- ½ tsp salt $0.05
- 2 (about 1 lb. total) chicken breasts $2.49
- ½ bottle jerk marinade $0.99
- 1 fresh jalapeno $0.06
- 1 can black beans $0.62
- 1 large plantain $0.54
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil $0.08
- 1 (20 oz.) can pineapple chunks $0.92
- 1 handful green onion or cliantro (garnish, optional) $0.15
- Begin cooking your rice by placing 1.5 cups of long grain jasmine rice in a pot with 2 cloves minced garlic, ½ tsp of salt, one can of light coconut milk and 1.5 cups (or one can full) of water. Stir once to combine ingredients. Cover the pot and bring it up to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a full boil, reduce the heat to warm/low and let simmer for 30 minutes. Turn the heat off after 30 minutes and let it rest until you are ready to serve. Fluff with a fork just before serving.
- Preheat a countertop grill for 5 minutes. Once warm, grill your first chicken breast for 6 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and grill the second breast. Slice the breasts diagonally into strips.
- While the chicken is cooking, mince another clove of garlic. Deseed and mince one jalapeno. Place the jalapeno and garlic in a small pot with ½ Tbsp of olive oil. Saute them for about 2 minutes over medium/high heat or just until soft. Add the can of black beans (undrained), reduce the heat to low and let until you are finished preparing the rest of the ingredients.
- To make the plantains, heat 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil in a heavy skillet. Peel and slice the plantain into diagonal medallions. Fry the medallions on each side until they are caramelized and brown (3-4 min on each side). Transfer the plantains to a plate with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
- To assemble the bowls, begin with 1 cup of coconut rice. Top the rice with ½ of a chicken breast (about 4 oz.), ⅓ cup of black beans, ⅓ cup of pineapple chunks (with some juice) and ¼ of the plantain medallions. Garnish with chopped green onions or cliantro.
Step By Step Photos
Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator either over night or while you are at work. The longer it marinates the better it tastes!
Begin making your rice first. Combine jasmine rice, garlic, salt, coconut milk and 1.5 cups of water in a pot. Bring to a boil with a lid then reduce to low and let simmer for 30 minutes.
Turn the heat off after thirty minutes and let rest until ready to serve. Fluff with a fork just before serving.
While the rice cooks, grill the marinated chicken using a counter top grill (6 minutes for each piece). Be sure to preheat the grill first.
Slice the grilled chicken into strips.
Saute the minced jalapeno and garlic in 1/2 Tbsp of olive oil for 2-3 minutes.
Add the can of black beans including the liquid, reduce the heat to low and let simmer while the rest of the meal comes together.
Peel and slice the plantain into medallions.
fry the plantain slices in 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil until they are brown on each side.
Drain plantains on a paper towel covered plate.
Assemble the bowl with rice on the bottom, chicken, beans, plantains and pineapple on top. Dig in!
NOTE: If you are using boneless, skinless chicken breasts like I did here, make sure to buy them in a value pack. I bought a five pound package and divided it up into bags of 2 breasts each when I got home. I used one for this recipe and the rest were frozen for later use. I paid $1.98 per pound but the smaller packs (1-2 lbs.) were priced at $3.38 per pound. You could also use thigh meat for this recipe if you prefer dark meat and it is usually a lot less expensive than boneless, skinless breasts.
I used half of the bottle of marinade, which was probably even more than I needed. The rest can be saved by transferring it to a freezer bag and freezing for later use. The marinade will thaw very quickly when the sealed bag is placed under running water.
This was my first time cooking with plantains and I’ll admit, they were a little different than expected. After looking around at recipes and preparation methods (there are a MILLION ways to cook them), I decided on this pan fry method. I didn’t want to deep fry because it just required too much oil. I let the plantain ripen for a few days because I wanted it to add a slightly sweeter element to the dish. It was a little bland so I may try caramelizing regular bananas next time I make this dish!