Closing Out Our Summer of Chicken and Rice

August 7, 2023

Closing Out Our Summer of Chicken and Rice

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If you read last Thursday’s post, you’ll know that Friday night was planned to be another chicken and rice cooking adventure, the third and final in our short summer series of Mom and Kid Cooking. (He doesn’t mind me calling him “kid” even though he’s 25, I promise.) If you need to stop for a minute and catch up, the post is below.

In the Kitchen Together

Jerk Chicken was our dish of choice on Friday, and cook it, we did. We used the recipe from the Cheffin with Zach web site that accompanies his Instagram account, and had a great time doing it. And we remembered to take a few pictures this round.

The full list of ingredients in the jerk marinade includes allspice, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, salt, garlic, fresh ginger, bay leaves, scallions, habaneros, thyme, worcestershire, soy sauce, tamarind paste and oil. After their turn in the Ninja blender, the aroma in the kitchen from the jerk marinade was outta-this-world wonderful: intoxicating, tantalizing, provocative (trust me on this). And the taste! While it was slightly salty, the balance of spices, tang, sweetness and heat carried the unmistakable promise of an excellent dish.

We made the marinade during my lunch break and let the chicken swim in it all afternoon. We deviated from the recipe and used chicken thighs for uniformity in cooking rather than a whole chicken, cut up. This was a good choice.

While we’ve been grilling a lot here at Glover Gardens this summer, Thomas and I elected to use the oven method because it was just so. darn. hot.

Really, really hot. Like 102° with a heat index of 110°. We calculated that we’d be much happier cooking the chicken inside, and besides, we still had to make the rice.

Our picture-taking waned at this time; I think we just got busy. The rice had lots of goodies in it, some of which are below in the only picture: garlic, ginger, habanero and onion.

Vegetables for rice with cutting boad and knife

The rice that goes with jerk chicken in Jamaica is called “rice with peas,” which is confusing because the “peas” are actually kidney beans. Apparently, that’s what kidney beans are called in Jamaica – I learned something new! Making this rice was a bit of a guessing game, because some of the information is missing from the recipe on the web site, like when to add the beans to the rice and what you’re supposed to do with the habanero. We decided to chop it and it added a nice flavor. Going back to the Instagram post, it’s clear in the video that you’re supposed to add the habanero whole. Where’s the fun in that? 😊

We also had to guess on the cooking time for the oven option because the recipe didn’t specify, but we guessed right! The Grill-Meister had asked innocently, “will there be a nice char?” (you know how he loves a char) and so we broiled some of the larger pieces for a couple of minutes at the end of our 30-minute cooking time. (We were worried that the smaller ones would be overcooked if we broiled them.)

Plate It Up!

Thomas made a salad with a tart vinaigrette that we served on the side of the jerk chicken and “rice with peas”, and we both remembered to get pics before we dug in.

This was a delicious meal that was all-the-more enjoyable because we made it together. The chicken was perfectly spiced and very moist inside its slightly charred crust, and the rice had the richness of coconut milk and a subtle depth of flavor that balanced the tangy chicken.

Adding to Our Jerk Chicken Repertoire and Knowledge

In making this recipe, we learned from the things that didn’t work so well – boiling down the marinade to form a sauce made it even saltier – and from the things that worked great, like cooking jerk chicken in the oven, which was new for me.

I’ve been making a different jerk chicken for years, which I shared back in September of 2018.

The marinade is the key to that recipe, too, and instead of just boiling and reducing the marinade to make a sauce, several more ingredients are added, including tomato sauce, malt vinegar, honey and soy. I would try that approach if I made the recipe we used in this cooking adventure again. My recipe calls for ground ginger, but I think using it fresh, and a lot of it, was one of the biggest reasons for the flavor explosion we experienced. I will definitely do that again.

Definitely a Great Summer Activity

We made three chicken and rice dishes this summer, from three different cultures:

  • Galinada, which is Brazilian chicken and rice
  • Chicken with Jollof Rice, from Nigeria
  • Jamaica Jerk Chicken and Rice with Peas

This was a great way for my son and me to spend our limited time together. It gave us a little bit of structure, a shared goal, a creative playground that led to exploration and learning, time to tell stories and get caught up on each other’s lives, and some damn fine meals. And honestly, I think his knife skills increased exponentially from the first time to the last. In the past, I’ve done all the cooking while he hung out with me, regaled me with stories of his professors, students and fellow musicians, and chose great background music. (He still did those things, but he also stepped up his cooking game.)

Along with our dining partner, the Grill-Meister, we had great conversations about the impact of social media on cooking. Some recipes can lack a bit of detail, haven’t been tested and could be somewhat difficult to make, especially if you were a novice and cooking alone. But we agreed that there was a great deal of value in the inspiration and impetus to make these particular dishes.

Two More Pictures to Close It Out

There’s our jerk chicken again, plated with a little more time and care. “All dressed up for the prom” was my caption when I texted them to Thomas, who was already gone, back in Austin for the last round of gigs before going back to Miami.

Looking Forward to Next Summer

I’m pretty sure we’ll do this kind of cooking tour again next summer, with a different dish.

I’ll miss Thomas when he goes back to the University of Miami on Thursday to start year 2 of his doctorate in jazz studio arranging. But it’ll be fun to collaborate long-distance on what our next cooking spree should be next summer.

If you have ideas, please share!

© 2023, Glover Gardens

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