I’ve been thinking a lot about Jamaica recently and the seven years I spent there. I pretty much ate jerked everything; chicken, pork, fish, lobster, etc. Apart from the traditional real Jerk from Boston Bay, the birthplace of Jerk, my favorite dish was Jerk Chicken Pasta from the Courtleigh Hotel in Kingston. I’ve since tried to replicate the dish at home and this is as close as I can get.
The marinade is a traditional Jamaican Jerk recipe using seriously hot scotch bonnet peppers, allspice, thyme cinnamon, nutmeg and scallions (spring onions). The recipe makes four times enough marinade therefore you can use the remainder to jerk up whatever you fancy… burgers, lamb, fish and anything that goes on the BBQ. You can also adapt the recipe it to make it hotter or milder by using more or less scotch bonnets.
But whatever you do don’t touch the scotch bonnets with your hands when cutting them. They can literally burn your fingers and anything else you touch with your spicy fingers afterwards…
Jamaican Jerk Chicken Pasta
2 tablespoons Allspice Berries
1 teaspoon Black Pepper Corns
1.5 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon Fresh Thyme Leaves
1 teaspoon Nutmeg, grated
2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
6 Spring Onions, sliced
2 or 3 Scotch Bonnet Peppers, chopped (without touching them - use a knife and fork)
60ml White Wine Vinegar
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Chicken Breasts, sliced
2 tablespoons of Jerk Marinade (see above)
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Onion, chopped
3 Garlic Cloves, sliced finely
80ml Red Wine
250ml Chicken Stock
3 Plum Tomatoes, de-seed and chopped (skinned if you want to go to the hassle)
250ml of tinned Tomatoes, blended down in a food processor to a tomato sauce consistency
Salt & Pepper
1 tablespoon Sour Cream, or Cream
Pasta for two, your choice of shape
2 Spring Onions, finely sliced to garnish
1 Scotch Bonnet Pepper, chopped finely, for those who like it spicy
Grind together the allspice berries, black pepper corns, salt, sugar, thyme leaves, grated nutmeg and cinnamon in a herb grinder or food processor. You want to end up with powered spices therefore if there are still a lot of lumps, you may need to use a pestle and mortar to grind the mixture down further.
Put the spring onions and scotch bonnet peppers into the food processor and blitz down. Add the spices, vinegar and olive oil.
(This makes 8 tablespoons of jerk marinade but you only need 2 tablespoons for the recipe so you can store the rest in the fridge for a few days or freeze it in a zippy bag for another time.)
Mix the chicken strips in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of the jerk marinade. Cover and marinade for an hour or overnight is even better.
Making the Sauce:
Heat the oil then add the onion and garlic and fry gently for a few minutes. Turn the heat up and add the chicken and sauté until browned, approximately 5 minutes.
Meanwhile start cooking your pasta.
Deglaze the chicken pan with the red wine, scraping up slightly burnt bits in the pan. Reduce the wine to almost gone, then add the chicken stock, the tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir well together and simmer for ten minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the sour cream and mix well together.
Bring it together:
Drain the pasta and put into a large bowl. Spoon as much of the sauce onto the pasta depending how “saucy” you want to make it and mix together gently. Divide between two plates and garnish with the sliced spring onions. Serve the chopped Scotch Bonnet Pepper on the side in case others like it spicer.
A bottle of Red Stripe to wash it all done is optional!