Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Crock Pot Jamaican Jerk Chicken & Vegetables

Crock pot Jamaican jerk chicken & vegetables
The beauty of this recipe is that you can start it in your crock pot in the morning before your go to work, and it will be ready to serve at dinnertime.  I used two pounds of chicken legs (thighs and drumsticks) with the skin and bones intact, but you can make a lower-fat and just as flavorful version by using skinless chicken parts of your choice.  Dark meat is better for long, slow cooking, but you could certainly use a combination of white and dark.  Crock pot cooking is quite forgiving and flexible, so feel free to modify the quantities of the ingredients to suit your needs and preferences.

I chose to use yam rather than sweet potato for two reasons:  Yams are Caribbean, and they have a less sweet flavor and starchier consistency than sweet potatoes.  I hunted for a white yam at our local Whole Foods store to no avail, and settled for a garnet yam, which admittedly added beautiful color to this dish.  If you can't find true yams, sweet potatoes or even regular potatoes will do.

You can use any thick Jamaican jerk wet paste or rub, like Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning, Busha Browne's Jerk Rub, or The Shizzle (which has the correct thick consistency despite being called a "marinade"), and because you'll be cooking the chicken for hours over low heat you don't need to marinate it prior to cooking.  I don't recommend using a thin marinade like Walkerswood Jerk Marinade for this dish, because the results will be too watery and possibly too tart, as well.

To keep carbohydrates lower, I served the jerk chicken and vegetables over cooked quinoa, but you can certainly serve this dish over white or brown rice, or even "as is" as a stew.  Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers, and you'll be delighted in how the flavors develop and become even richer when reheated at a later date.

2 lbs chicken parts (e.g., drumsticks & thighs)
1 large yam (mine was 3/4 lbs)
1 large onion
1 large bell pepper
Chopped vegetables for Jamaican jerk stew1 to 1-1/2 cups Jamaican Jerk seasoning paste or thick marinade

Wash and trim the vegetables, then chop into large chunks as shown in photo on the right.

Place the chicken in the bottom of your crock pot, add half of the jerk seasoning or marinade, then add the vegetables and the remainder of the jerk.  Carefully stir to combine the vegetables and marinade, and to allow some of the marinade to trickle to the bottom of the crock pot but leaving the chicken as the bottom layer.

Jamaican jerk chicken stew Cover the crock pot, set to the High/Low Alternating setting (if your crock pot doesn't have this option then set to "Low") and let cook for approximately 8 hours until done--you can stir after several hours of cooking undisturbed, and if it looks too dry just stir in a little water, keeping in mind that the chicken and veggies will release their own juices as they cook.

When the chicken is fall-off-the-bone tender, serve over rice or quinoa or in a bowl as a stew.  Serves plenty, with leftovers (which are even better the next day!).

Zestfully yours,

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