Matt and I adore traveling, and do so every opportunity we can possibly get (which are far fewer than I’d like, but that’s life, right?). This past month marked our ten year wedding anniversary, which we found to be a perfect, ready-made excuse to go somewhere. Where to go became the question, and the answer was BEACH. But beyond that, the answer quickly became secluded beach where we could sit and pretty much do nothing for a week.
After two small trips to Nassau, Bahamas in the last nine or so years, I’d become very intrigued by the Out Islands of the Bahamas (Nassau is fine, but I’m honestly not its biggest fan). After a few hours of research, we picked the Exuma Cays. It was spectacular – everything we wanted for our anniversary escape. No crowds, authentic Bahamian culture, breathtakingly gorgeous secluded beaches, a pool, and an adorable boutique mom-and-pop resort. Coming back home was harsh.
The one aspect of the trip that wasn’t just so was the food, but I was definitely expecting that. The Bahamas, at least in my personal experience, is much better at beach than food. Hell, the last time we stayed on Nassau we ate most of our meals at an Italian restaurant, for crying out loud. Their food culture isn’t terribly strong or well-known beyond the islands, and overcooked fish seems to be the rule rather than the exception. But, they do love their habaneros, which suited me just fine!
This chicken is an excellent representation of the typical Bahamian flavor profile – lots of lime juice, onion, and much habanero chile. It’s simple, and the flavors don’t scream. But they do talk, and I very much appreciate their subtle tones and complements. On our last meal there, being very much unable to stomach any more fried conch – something Bahamians do quite well, but honestly, how much fried food can you eat in one week? – I was thrilled to have this flavor profile on a piece of simply grilled (and exceptionally not overcooked!) grouper. I love it on chicken as well. I hope you enjoy this one!
And here is a collage of pictures from our trip. I would return in a heartbeat!
Source: The Barbecue Bible by Steven Raichlen
1 (3 ½ – 4 lb) whole chicken, quartered
1 cup fresh lime juice
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ to 2 habanero chiles, thinly sliced
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tbs olive or canola oil
1 tbs sweet paprika
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp fresh cracked black or white pepper
Blot the chicken pieces very dry with paper towels. Place the pieces in a nonreactive bowl or baking dish and pour the lime juice over the chicken; turn the pieces to coat. Let stand, at room temperature, for 15 minutes, turning the pieces once or twice.
Pour off and discard the lime juice, then add the onion, garlic, habanero, thyme, oil, paprika, salt, and pepper. Turn the chicken pieces to coat thoroughly. Let the chicken marinate in this mixture at least 15 minutes and up to 1 to 2 hours. Make sure you refrigerate the chicken if you’re going longer than about 15-20 minutes.
Preheat your grill, setting it up for two-tiered cooking (meaning one side is direct heat and the other is indirect heat). When ready to cook, oil the grill grate. Using a rubber spatula, scrape any bits of onion or garlic off the chicken.
Arrange the pieces, skin side down on the hotter section (direct heat) and cook 3-5 minutes. Move the pieces to the indirect heat section, still skin side down, and cook 5-7 minutes. Flip the chicken pieces and move to the hot (direct heat) section, and cook another 3-5 minutes. Then move them, still skin side up, to the indirect heat section and let them finish cooking through there. Use a meat thermometer to be sure. The whole thing will take anywhere from 16-24 minutes, possibly even longer if your charcoal grill loses heat quickly.
When just cooked through, remove the chicken pieces to a plate and let them rest for 5-10 minutes. Then serve!