Friday, April 20, 2012

Jerked Chicken Skewers and Cantaloupe Dipping Sauce

Ross is to blame thank for this recipe.  I found myself with a Friday evening with both of us off and no immediate plans.  Dinner dates at home often result.  So when I asked what he'd like me to make, and we remembered the chicken breasts in the freezer, he promptly requested Caribbean.  Rather than just dust the chicken with Jerk seasoning I hunted down this marinade.  And voila!

Added bonus, this recipe gave us the extra incentive to finally break down and buy a grill.  Grilling season is upon us after all!

Adapted Bob Marley's Restaurant, recipe posted at Foodnetwork

The Ingredients:
for the marinade:
1 onion, finely chopped
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 dried red chili, finely ground (or 2 Scotch bonnet peppers)
1 tsp ground black pepper
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp cider vinegar

for the skewers:
2 pounds chicken breast, cut into large cubes
bamboo skewers
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup lime juice

for the dipping sauce:
one quarter of a cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cubed
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of cayenne pepper

The Process:
for the marinade: 
In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the marinade ingredients (or puree in a blender or food processor until well combined.) Place the chicken in a large freezer bag.  Pour the marinade over the chicken.  Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

to prepare and cook the chicken skewers:
At least 2 hours before grilling, soak the bamboo skewers.  Combine 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of lemon or lime juice in a pint glass.  Place the skewers in the glass to soak

Prepare the grill or preheat the broiler.

Thread 4-5 cubes of chicken onto each soaked skewer. Discard the marinade.  Grill or broil the skewers for 2-3 minutes per side.  Serve immediately with dipping sauce.

for the dipping sauce:
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.   Season with addition cayenne or salt to taste.  Chill until ready to serve. 

The Review:
 In the darken light it became harder and harder to see how our skewers were doing on the grill.  Some came off a little blackened.  But that's okay, right?  It is jerk chicken after all.  But even with the generous charring suffered on some, the chicken remained tender and incredibly flavorful.

I adore marinades and spice blends such as this one.  A little kick of spice.  A hint of sweet.  A burst of salt.  And just a touch of sour.  So many layers of flavor!  Serve along grilled pineapple...pure bliss.

The sauce was the big surprise though.  I didn't have cucumbers, but a gorgeous cantaloupe was sitting off to the side in my kitchen.  Cucumber melon combinations are so common...if the compliment each other so well, why not try subbing one for the other.  The result was surprisingly successful.  The creamy and slightly tart base suggested a tziziki, but the sweetness of the cantaloupe, along with a subtle earthiness (it is known as musk melon for a reason) created something completely unique.  The recipe made quite a lot, and it doesn't keep very long in the fridge before it begins to separate (there is a LOT of water in the melon...)  Maybe three days.  And this is a sauce much better the first day. Try to make up only as much as you think you can use.

1 comment:

  1. Cantaloupe dipping sauce? Count me in! Fabulous recipe.