Story last updated at 9/25/2013 - 1:43 pm
As I have mentioned before, I enjoy trying new recipes and experimenting in the kitchen. I also like taking traditional recipes and trying something different. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Fortunately for my husband Grant they usually work.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the amazing Cuban beans and rice I had at the fair. This week I’d like to share a recipe that continues the Caribbean flare, jerk chicken and rice. I had jerk chicken once in a restaurant and I loved it. The spices were great, but wow was my mouth hot. I do enjoy a good, spicy dish, but the sit-up-and-smack-your-mama kind of hot, not so much. I don’t think spicy food should burn your taste buds so bad that you can’t taste anything else for two weeks.
Jerk includes some of the usual suspects in spices such as garlic powder, thyme, chili powder and even cinnamon and cloves. But the real flavor comes from the peppers. Some use habaneras or jalapenos. The hotter the better. Never having made my own spice blend, I confess that for my first time cooking jerk chicken I opted for a pre-made jerk rub purchased at the grocery store. Now that I have cooked with it, I can assure you I am on a mission to create my own blend. Let the experimenting begin!
For this particular recipe I wanted something to pair with the intense heat of the jerk chicken; something to cool down the taste buds so that you didn’t sit up and smack someone. A nice cool rice dish sounded tasty.
I was raised in the South and we are rice eaters. In fact, I’d venture to say we eat more rice than potatoes in the southeastern states. This may be because rice used to be a staple crop in some of the coastal states and we supported our local economy by eating a lot of it — sometimes two or more times per day. Growing up I cannot remember ever having mashed potatoes and gravy with our fried chicken. It was always rice. Therefore, one can usually find a package of rice in my pantry.
Rice just seems to go well with most dishes. It’s a universal ingredient. One can steam it, boil it and even fry it. Albeit one does need to steam or boil it prior to the frying. However prepared it is a great ingredient to pair with chicken.
In keeping with my new healthy kick recipes, I boiled the rice in low sodium chicken broth to give it added flavor. I added a few simple ingredients such as lime and cilantro and had a delicious, flavorful side dish. The secret ingredient is low-fat sour cream. Only two teaspoons are needed to add the cooling factor to the dish so that not only was it creamy and tasty, it also cooled the taste buds so that one could eat more of the spicy chicken.
To top the dish, I toasted a few pistachios in a dry skillet for a minute or two, chopped and sprinkled them on top of the chicken and rice.
Sometimes those kitchen experiments do go well and this was definitely one of those times. This week I present a dish that is simple, flavorful and bold in taste: Jerk Chicken with Lime Cilantro Rice. As always, I encourage everyone to get familiar with their kitchen and try something new. I look forward to hearing the results of your culinary experiments.
Until next time…
Eat and enjoy,
Kelly Moore, a.k.a. Midgi, writes and cooks from Juneau. Visit her blog, www.mealswithmidgi.com, for additional stories and recipes. She may be reached at midgi@
JERK CHICKEN WITH LIME AND CILANTRO RICE
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 tablespoons jerk seasoning
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup rice
Zest of one lime
¼ cup cilantro
2 teaspoons low-fat cream cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon pistachios
Pour chicken broth in to medium sized sauce pan. Cover and bring to boil. Add rice and stir once. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside for 3-5 minutes. Add lime zest, cilantro and sour cream. Stir well until well incorporated. Add salt and pepper as desired. Cover and set aside to keep warm.
While rice is cooking, pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Pre-heat a large skillet to medium high heat. Liberally coat both sides of the chicken thighs with jerk seasoning. Add oil to pan and bring to heat. Carefully place chicken in hot oil and sear for 2-3 minutes each side. Place in oven for 5-7 minutes until cooked through.
Pre-heat small skillet to medium high heat. Add pistachio nuts. Cook about 5 minutes, tossing occasionally to ensure they are thoroughly warm. Remove from pan and rough chop.
To plate dish: Place rice on bottom of plate, top with chicken and garnish with chopped pistachios.