As a participant in the Captain Morgan’s Spice Up the Holidays Contest, I was charged with -among other things- developing three recipes (a cocktail, an appetizer, and a dessert) featuring either Captain Morgan’s Original Spiced Rum or their Black Spiced Rum to serve at a party. My first recipe was the Dark & Stormy Orchard; an appley twist on the classic combination of dark rum and ginger beer. When it came time to make an appetizer, I knew EXACTLY what I wanted. This girl wanted jerk chicken. I’m assuming most of you are familiar with jerk chicken whether or not you’ve tried it. This Jamaican spa treatment for chicken is a total flavour explosion. If you’ve not had or heard of it, let me assure you that it doesn’t involve finding a badly behaved bird, although if you’re so inclined, I have a really foul (fowl pun alert) tempered rooster I’d volunteer for the job.
Jerk seasoning is a complex tasting combination of spices and aromatics. There are both dry-rubs and wet marinades, but both usually have a mixture of green onions, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, black pepper, thyme and habanero peppers. The wet marinade usually adds vinegar, lime juice and rum to the mix . I prefer the punch of flavour that goes all the way through the meat with wet marinades. Dry jerk seasonings and wet marinades can usually be purchased in the store, but I prefer mixing my own because I can control every single nuance of spice that goes into it. I like my jerk seasoning heavy on onion and a little lighter on allspice and nutmeg than is usually found in dry mixes. And since I also prefer a wet marinade, my blender makes quick work of making the marinade.
In my first Spice Up the Holidays post, I asked for your best entertaining tips. Wow! You all are GOOD! The decor is what was daunting me the most, being the sort of girl who piles rocks she collects on her table, puts reading glasses and a hat on her bust of Beethoven and calls it good enough. You guys made it sound less frightful, so thank you! I do believe I’m going to have a gorgeous table.
Also sharing tips was our judge for the contest, Chef Spike Mendelsohn himself. Yes, I got to chat up Spike! I did it from my freezing van in the parking lot at the church where I was about to teach cooking class. The point was this, Spike had some fabulous ideas to share with me. He said that aside from dancing on the tables, he liked to liven parties up by making them interactive. He likes to ask his guests to bring a dish to share and have everyone get involved while at his house. Conversation can’t help but be easy when you’re all working together to produce a meal you’ll share. You’re an angel, Spike. Thank you!
Jerk Chicken Bites are the perfect party appetizer because they can be done entirely ahead of time (minus the garnish) leaving you more time to mingle with your guests. You can have these out to nibble while you’re all putting your meal together. Nothing sparks hunger like being around food, so if you’re going to put your friends to work with you, it’d be awfully nice for you to take the edge off. They’re good hot, warm and room temperature, but I doubt they’ll last long enough to get much cooler than warm.
The recipe can be doubled or tripled easily and yields a large amount for a small cost. I chose to cook mine on the grill in a more traditional approach, but if you don’t have (or don’t like using) a grill, you can cook the chicken under the broiler or in a frying pan on the stove top. The stove top yields a pretty splattery mess on the stove top but a moister final product.
If you’re invited to a holiday party this season and asked to bring a dish to pass, I guarantee you’ll get more oohs and aahs than you know what to do if you show up with a plate full of this. No parties? No problem, make yourself a plate, eat ‘em in your yoga pants and congratulate yourself on not having to go anywhere. Either way, you win big.
Remember my big old rummy dessert is coming next week. You REALLY don’t want to miss it. Trust me. Oh, trust me. And also, please remember to check out my fellow contestants gorgeous offerings!
- What’s Cooking, Chicago?
- Big Red Kitchen
- The Comfort of Cooking
- Shugary Sweets
- What’s For Dinner
- The High Heeled Hostess
- The Realistic Nutritionist
Disclosure: I am a participant in the Spice Up the Holidays contest sponsored by Captain Morgan USA. I received products to use in my recipe development and compensation for additional ingredients but all opinions are my own.