Monday, August 1, 2011

Jerk Gardein, Plantains & Pineapple Salsa

My foray into Jamaican food provides a complex yet simple to prepare meal that combines everything you could want: spicy, salty and sweet. It also provides us with an opportunity to use one of the most versatile ingredients out there: beer.

Jerk Gardein
Adapted From
Servings: 4
Time: 80 minutes (inactive for 60)

4 pieces Gardein chick'n scallopini, defrosted
Yeah, there's a lot that goes in this.
1/4 onion
5 garlic cloves
3 tbsp fresh ginger
6 tbsp lime juice
6 tbsp soy sauce
5-7 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp dried thyme
2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
3 tbsp Red Stripe beer
Pinch of red pepper flakes

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.
  2. Marinade the gardein patties in the sauce for at least an hour
  3. Cook over medium heat for 8 minutes (4 per side).
I tried a little something different with my jerk sauce today, and it really helped bring out the flavor. Inspired by today's Iron Chef: Battle Beer, I put some red stripe into the recipe then increased the amount of maple syrup to counteract the bitterness of the beer and to thicken the sauce. It was a phenomenal addition, and the sauce had a wonderful kick on the back end. If you want to try something else, it also goes great with seitan.

Fried Plantains
They should be thin but long.
Servings: 6
Time: 15 minutes

3 yellow/black plantains
Vegetable oil
Salt to taste

  1. Peel the plantains by cutting off the ends and making a slit down the middle.
  2. Cut 1/2 inch thick slices at a 45 degree angle.
  3. Put just enough oil to cover the surface of your frying pan. Once the oil causes a pinch of flour to sizzle, it's a good temperature. 
  4. Cook each side until lightly browned (about 1 minute).
  5. Remove and place on a paper towel to soak up excess oil.
  6. Lightly salt.

My inner Cuban could eat plantains all day. They go great as sides, desserts or even on sandwiches. If you want to try them as a dessert, just pan fry them in the sauce from the Bourbon Peaches Foster recipe. 

Pineapple Salsa
Servings: 8-10
Time: 20 minutes
1 lb pineapple, chopped
1 can corn
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained well
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 Anaheim green chili, chopped
1/2 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
1/3 cup orange juice
Cumin, salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of allspice

  1. Mix the ingredients together well.
  2. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
This is one of my favorite salsas. The flavors mix perfectly together, and you can vary the spiciness by changing the ratio of Anaheim green chili to serranos. Aside from being a nice side dish, it also works in traditional chips and salsa.

You can't really go wrong with any of these dishes. They are fantastic together or on their own, and, aside from the plantains, everything can be prepared in advance for a speedy meal. Just add some basmati rice and the rest of the Red Stripe and enjoy.

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