Tag Archives: Caribbean

Bahamian Grilled Chicken

Bahamian Grilled Chicken

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.

Bahamian Grilled Chicken

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.

Bahamian Grilled Chicken

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!

Bahamian Grilled Chicken

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!

Bahamian Grilled Chicken

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!

Coconut Bread

Coconut bread

It. Is. Still. Cold. STILL!!!! Apparently the groundhog never got the memo that we’re nearing mid-March and it’s supposed to be spring. And everyone’s patience is wearing thin. Just so you know, Mr. Groundhog.

shredded coconut

coconut bread

I suppose I’ll just have to console us with this uber-yummy, perfect coconut bread. Anything coconut makes me think of the Caribbean, despite the fact that too many slices of this bread will make you want to hide your bikini in the bottom drawer and pretend it doesn’t exist. That being said, it is completely and totally delicious, very moist and tender and perfectly coconut-y. You can slice it and eat it as is, or if you really don’t care about that bikini, toast it and slather it with a pat of butter.

Coconut bread

And we can all use some visions of the Caribbean right now, don’t you think? Oh yes…

Coconut Bread

So y’all enjoy this one, it’s soooo tasty, and very easy to throw together for a week of breakfast or just a lovely snack.

Coconut Bread

{One year ago: Broccoli Cheese Soup, Buttermilk Macaroni and Cheese, and Tex-Mex Cheesy Chicken Tart}

Source: lightly adapted from Tyler Florence’s Real Kitchen by Tyler Florence

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 stick (8 tbs) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
1 ½ cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 ½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat your oven to 375 F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Pour in the coconut milk and whisk to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and whisk until just combined. Fold in the shredded coconut.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and place it on a baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove the bread to a cutting board and let it cool completely before slicing. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

Jerk Chicken Fry Bread “Tostadas” with Cabbage-Jicama Slaw

jerk chicken fry bread "tostadas" with cabbage-jicama slaw

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!

fry bread dough

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.

frying Navajo fry breads

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.

grilling jerk chicken

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.

sliced Jamaican jerk chicken

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.

Jerk Chicken Fry Bread "Tostadas" with Cabbage-Jicama Slaw

Source: adapted from The Mesa Grill Cookbook by Bobby Flay


1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tbs dry milk powder
Kosher salt
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!

Jamaican Jerk Snapper

While I was growing up, my family didn’t have seafood very often.  We lived in a land-locked area of Texas, so freshly caught stuff wasn’t readily available.  We sometimes dined on fried catfish and the occasional salmon cake.  I really loved my mom’s fried catfish, but other than that, I was fine with not eating much seafood.

Then I moved to New York.  First of all, I married someone who did grow up eating seafood and wasn’t about to give it up.  Second of all, New York is on the water, so you can get local, fresh seafood from its waters, and from up and down the coast.  And lastly, I realized there were tons of fish and shellfish I had literally never tried once, so I didn’t really know for certain that I didn’t like them.  I had never tried swordfish, or non-canned tuna, or mussels, or clams, or fresh sardines, or mako shark, or mahi-mahi.  Part of my resolve to eat better included just diving in and trying all that seafood.

You know what?  I love seafood!!  And I’ve gotten pretty good at cooking it, too.  I was terrible at first, I had no idea what I was doing, but it was still fun to experiment.  I can now pull off a perfectly flaky fish fillet, consistently.  But what about a whole fish?  That’s a different ballgame.  But, I’m ready to play with the big boys, so let’s do it.

I chose this recipe to use up some of my habanero mash.  The recipe called for four small, single serving whole snappers.  I could only find a huge one from my fishmonger.  So we bought one large snapper and proceeded with the marinade, figuring we’d just guess at cooking times.  Well, we guessed wrong, but only by a little bit.  It was slightly undercooked, and we couldn’t eat the slim layer closest to the bones.  But the skin crisped up beautifully, and the flavorful marinade was spicy and delicious.  And given there are only two of us, it was still plenty of food.  Next time I think I would try harder to find small, individual serving snappers, so that’s how I’ll write it.  The way it was intended, not with my screw-up.

Source: BBQ USA, by Steven Raichlen

4 small snappers, each 1 to 1 1/2 lbs., cleaned
1 to 3 habaneros, stemmed and seeded
4 large scallions, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 small shallot, coarsely chopped
1 piece (1/2 inch) ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 tbs fresh cilantro
1 tsp fresh or dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs dark rum
1 tbs fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving
2 tsp soy sauce
2 cups wood chips, soaked in water for 1 hour, then drained

Trim the fins off the fish using kitchen shears. Rinse fish under cold water, then blot dry with paper towels. Make 3 to 4 deep slashes diagonally in the flesh of each fish. Place fish in a baking dish.
Place the chile peppers, scallions, garlic, shallot, ginger, cilantro, thyme, salt, brown sugar, allspice, pepper, and cinnamon in a food processor and finely chop. Add the oil, rum, lime juice and soy sauce and 1 tbs water and process until it’s a smooth paste.
Stuff some of the jerk seasoning into the fish cavities and some into the slits in the sides of the fish. Spread the remaining jerk seasoning over the fish and let marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 1 hour, turning once or twice.
Set up a grill for direct grilling and preheat to medium-high. Pour the wood chips over the coals when they are ready.
When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Grill the fish 6 to 10 minutes per side, depending on the size, turning gently with a fish spatula. To test for doneness, press the flesh with your finger: it will break into clean flakes when fully cooked. The flesh will come cleanly away from the bones when pried loose with the tip of a paring knife and a slender metal skewer inserted into the thickest part of the fish for 20 seconds should come out very hot to the touch. Transfer the grilled fish to a platter and serve at once with lime wedges.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken with Ginger Barbecue Sauce

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am a chile-head, and that I love spicy food. I am obsessed with chiles of all kinds. I’ve always known jalapenos, but moving to New York and expanding my palate has opened up my world to an amazing variety of chile peppers. I’ve discovered chipotles, poblanos, anchos, serranos, Thai birds, fresnos, and of course, habaneros. I really and truly love habaneros. I love their fruity, intense heat and their pretty colors. Every year, Matt and some of his coworkers go in together and buy a whole bushel of habaneros from this Amish guy upstate who breeds them himself. They split them, and he brings home an enormous baggie full of the little red chiles. I put on gloves, and proceed to rip out the seeds and membranes, all the while trying not to cough too much. Then I puree them and keep them in a giant container in the refrigerator, and it becomes a habanero mash.

Whenever I need a habanero, I get a teaspoon or so of the puree. As you can see, I’ve got a ways to go before it’s all used up. One of the best uses I’ve found for this overabundance of habaneros is Jamaican jerk dishes.

I know I didn’t taste jerk anything until adulthood, but I immediately fell in love with it and now I cook it often. Jerk is so versatile and can marinate almost any protein. I especially love it on chicken. We grill it, and the smoky charcoal essence combines with the complex jerk flavors… I’m drooling just typing this…

Anyway, this chicken was wonderful. Complex in flavor, very spicy, smoky from the grill, slightly sweet and nicely lacquered. Don’t skimp on the marinade time, or you’ll miss some of the robust flavor.

Source: Emeril at the Grill, by Emeril Lagasse

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

1 bunch scallions, roughly chopped
8 habanero chiles, seeded and stemmed
1/3 cup minced garlic
1/3 cup minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
3 tbs dark rum
3 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs light brown sugar
1 tbs fresh thyme leaves
2 tbs pumpkin pie spice
1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1 tbs kosher salt

Combine the scallions, habaneros, garlic, ginger, lime juice, rum, soy sauce, brown sugar, thyme, and pumpkin pie spice in a food processor. Process to form a smooth paste.
Place the chicken in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag, add the marinade, and seal. Refrigerate, turning the bag occasionally, for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
Heat a grill to medium-high and lightly oil the grate.
Remove chicken from marinade and discard the marinade. Wipe the chicken with paper towels to remove any excess. As you can see in my picture, I wasn’t too hyper about this step and mine turned out great. Season the chicken on both sides with the salt. Place the chicken, skin side down, on the grill and cook, turning and rotating frequently, until it is lightly charred and cooked through. An instant read thermometer should read 165 F. This will take around half an hour. Remove chicken from the grill and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Ginger Barbecue Sauce

6 tbs ketchup
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup pineapple juice
2 tbs distilled white vinegar
2 tbs freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tbs minced fresh ginger
1 tbs butter
1 tbs dry mustard
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs kosher salt
1 tbs tamarind paste
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1/2 habanero chile, seeded and minced

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until reduced enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Serve the sauce warm or at room temperature, drizzled over the chicken.