This is one of my few “repeat meals”, meaning I consistently make it about once or twice a year, and I’ve made this one for the past four or five years running. This is one of Matt’s favorites, and I sometimes wonder if he would revolt if I didn’t make it at least once a year!
I go crazy for Jamaican jerk anything, so this chicken is right up my alley. It’s very hot and spicy, but that wonderful slaw really cools it down. The most unusual thing about this recipe is the Navajo fry breads. I would have never thought to pair jerk chicken with an old Native American staple, but it’s delicious.
Now what’s really unusual about this dish is that I don’t just make these fry breads for snacking just whenever. Because in my book, it doesn’t get much better than fried dough, and that is exactly what these are. It’s sort of like beignets meet pancakes, only they are savory instead of sweet. They’re crunchy and satisfying and soooo delish. Where the willpower to not make these all the time comes from, I really couldn’t tell you.
This is originally a Bobby Flay recipe, from his Mesa Grill cookbook, and I’ve streamlined it quite a bit. If you’re familiar with his recipes, then you know they have about 17 different parts, and well, sometimes I get a little tired of that. He calls for a mango habanero sauce that I have always left off. It’s delicious without it; I’m sure it’s outstanding with it, but I don’t know what I’m missing, so why do I care, you know? I think there’s already plenty of heat in the spice rub on the chicken, so you don’t need any more habanero. But if you wanted to add some diced mango to the slaw, that would probably be great. Maybe I’ll do that next year and report back.
As written, you’ll have leftover jerk rub, which is great! Store it in your freezer and it will last a very long time. But you can scale the recipe back, or just use your favorite commercial jerk rub seasoning to make the recipe even easier.
Source: adapted from The Mesa Grill Cookbook by Bobby Flay
NAVAJO FRY BREADS:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tbs dry milk powder
¼ cup lard or vegetable shortening, chilled
Canola oil, for frying
2 tbs ground coriander
2 tbs ground ginger
2 tbs light brown sugar
1 tbs onion powder
1 tbs garlic powder
1 tbs kosher salt
1 tbs habanero chile powder
2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cloves
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed
2 tbs canola oil
½ cup fresh lime juice (from 4-5 limes)
1 tbs ancho chile powder
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 tsp honey
¼ cup canola oil
¼ small head of red cabbage, thinly shredded
1 small jicama, peeled and thinly shredded
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
First make the FRY BREADS. Combine the flour, baking powder, milk powder and 1 tsp salt in a large bowl. Cut in the lard with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture is crumbly. Add ¾ cup cold water and mix until the dough comes together. Place on a lightly floured surface and knead lightly until smooth. Cover with a kitchen towel and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
Heat a couple inches of canola oil in a large, high-sided skillet until it reaches 360 F.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll out each piece into a 4-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Fry the bread in batches in the oil until golden brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes total. Remove to a sheet pan lined with paper towels and lightly season with salt.
Make the JERK CHICKEN. Make the jerk rub by combining all the spices in a small bowl. Rub the top of each chicken breast with 1 heaping tablespoon of the rub. Heat the canola oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Place the chicken in the pan, rub side down and lightly season the non-rubbed side with salt. Cook until just cooked through, flipping once, about 6-8 minutes total. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing each breast on the bias into ¼-inch thick slices.
Make the SLAW. Whisk together the lime juice, ancho chile powder, salt, pepper, honey and oil in a large bowl. Add the cabbage, jicama and cilantro and toss well to combine. Let sit at room temperature at least 15 minutes and up to 4 hours before serving.
To assemble, place sliced chicken on a fry bread then top with some slaw. Serve with lots of napkins!