Jerk, Fungi, & Thyme

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“And indeed there will be Thyme.  Time for you and Thyme for me” (is T.S. Eliot too sacred to parody? Actually, I just re-read The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock and find it speaks to me more today than when I read it in my 20th-Century Lit class at CC 54 years ago). Today’s BigLittleMeals’ post is all about recipes spiced with thyme – and about how we label men; it’s about Brooklyn and Jamaica and about good food. Andy is going public with the fact that he has CPD; you’re going to love it!  Read on.

Fun-gi or jerk? Scanning those faces above, the choice may not always be obvious.  And the choice is trickier yet if you’re deciding what to cook with your chicken breasts or thighs tonight.  Fungi/Italian or Jamaican/Jerk?  Quick and easy – or a little more creative time in the kitchen?  Mild and delicious – or tongue-burning spicy and delicious?

Our daughter and I recently spent a few days in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where our son and his girlfriend live.  And I am making arrangements for Andy and I to get back there soon.  Of course (OF COURSE!) I want to visit the two of them again, but even more I want some of the jerk chicken we ate at two different, totally funky spots, Peppa’s and The Food Sermon.  I love this timely quote seen at The Food Sermon:

“In Our Home, There is Laughter. There Are Mistakes. There is Noise. There are Apologies. There is Affection. There is Love.”  

After watching this video, I’d pick the owner of The Food Sermon, Rawlston Williams, to be a Fun-gi even though his specialty is Jerk 🙂 And, should you be tormented by your inability to identify all of my fungi/jerks, go to the very end of today’s blog, and we’ll help you out.

Speaking of noise, I always want music turned up loud when I’m doing serious cooking, here’s what I recommend for the Caribbean mood; oh the memories…dating back to 1956.  A banana bread recipe has to be forthcoming.

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Jerk Chicken Bowl

  • Servings: 4
  • Print
In no way is this an authentic jerk chicken recipe, which would use skin-on, bone-in chicken marinated for 24 hours in a fiery hot habanero or scotch bonnet rub and then grilled. It’s fun to do.  However, this jerk chicken recipe is for those times when your thyme time is limited yet you crave some Caribbean spiciness. The recipe for the Jamaican Rice and Beans is the basis for the Jerk Chicken Bowl, so be sure to fix it too.

Ingredients

Jerk rub (enough for 1 lb+ of boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts)

  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp-1/2 tsp pepper (1/2 tsp of pepper and 1/2 tsp of cayenne will make this very very spicy – but typical for jerk chicken; diminish the amount according to your preferences as to heat)
  • 1/4 tsp-1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Jerk Sauce (to be passed around at the table as a topping for the chicken, if you’re looking to add some spice and authenticity; omit it if you don’t have time or thyme. OMG.)  I put it all in a blender and serve it out of a salad dressing-kind of bottle, but you can also mince the scallions and onion and chile and then whisk it all together with a fork, if you want to serve it by the spoonful from a little bowl.

  • 1 T lime juice
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 2 T water (or more, if it’s too spicy or too thick)
  • 1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch of scallions (green onions), coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 habanero or Scotch bonnet chile, membrane and seeds removed (more, if you’re a little on the crazy side)
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp Indian Tamarind paste (or 1/3 c pureed fresh pineapple or mango – or even orange juice, if you don’t have the others)

Chicken

  • About 1 pound of boneless, skinless, chicken thighs (or breasts, if you must), cut into bite-size pieces (about 2″ each); cubes of pork will also work
  • 2 T of vegetable oil to fry the chicken in
  • 1/2 c scallions (green onions), chopped, divided in half.  Half will be stirred into the chicken and half will be added just before serving
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Place the cut-up chicken pieces in a plastic bag; add the jerk rub and “massage” the bag so that the rub covers all the pieces;  allow to sit at room temperature for about 1/2 hour. Heat a large skillet or wok (my choice) until it’s very hot; add the vegetable oil and heat until it’s shimmering.  Put in the chicken and stir and fry until it’s no longer pink and is nicely browned – 5-7 minutes. Remove from the heat and immediately add half of the scallions and the garlic and stir in.  Dish up the Jamaican Rice and Beans in individual bowls, top it with the jerk chicken, sprinkle the remaining chopped scallions on top and serve.  If you made the jerk sauce, pass it around at the table.  Yum.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals and Andy and Ann

Jamaican Rice and Beans

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 scallions (green onions), thinly sliced
  • 1 c uncooked long-grain rice (not rinsed)
  • 1 14 oz can of coconut milk, well-mixed
  • 1 c water
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Scotch bonnet or habanero chile left whole (optional); you’ll remove this before serving.  It’s used just to add a faint spiciness.
  • 1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed

In a medium saucepan, with a lid, heat the oil over medium low heat, add the garlic and scallions and stir and saute until softened, about 1-2 minutes.

Add the rice, coconut milk, water, butter, thyme, whole chile, beans, and salt.  Bring to a boil, stir well, then turn the heat down to very low, cover the pan, and cook for about 25 minutes, being careful not to lift the lid to peek until at least 20 minutes have passed.  When the rice is cooked and tender, taste, and add more salt, if necessary.  Remove from the heat and remove the whole chile; let sit for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork and dish up as part of the Jerk Chicken Bowl recipe – or just by itself.

Recipe brought to you by Big Little Meals and Andy and Ann

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Fungi Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Print
Admittedly, most versions of this recipe will thicken the sauce with flour to form a gravy.  I actually like the flavor better without the flour-y taste – but it’s up to you.

Ingredients

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 4 T butter
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken – thighs or breasts, cut into about 2″ pieces (I could beg you to use thighs, but I won’t 🙂
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 2 generous tablespoons fresh thyme, better yet)
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced;  – your choice.  To make it easy, just buy the pre-sliced ordinary ones
  • 2/3 c white wine – or marsala, if you happen to have it
  • 1/3 c chicken broth (or a little more)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 T heavy cream – or half & half (or a little more)
  • 1/4 c parsley, chopped (optional)
  • previously cooked pasta or rice (optional)
  • a sprinkling of grated cheese; we like gruyere (optional)

In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat the oil and butter.  Add the chicken, salt, and pepper and stir and fry until the chicken is almost cooked – about 3-4 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic, thyme, mushrooms, wine, and broth and simmer until the mushrooms are tender and the sauce has reduced – about 5 minutes.  Add the lemon juice and cream and bring back to a simmer.  If you want more broth, add a little more chicken broth and a little more cream.  If you’re worried about the chicken (especially breasts) getting dry, take them out before sautéing the mushrooms and then add them back in.  Add the parsley, if you want.

Remove the chicken from the heat.  Serve it on its own with crusty artisan bread – or add cooked pasta or rice.

Recipe brought to you by Big Little Meals and Andy and Ann
Top row: Tommy Smothers, Henry Winkler, Carroll O’Connor, Johnny Carson, George Carlin, Steve Martin, Jackie Gleason, Richard Nixon, Woody Allen; 2nd row: John Stewart, Justin Trudeau, Louis C.K., Raggedy Andy, Jerry Seinfeld,  Donald Trump (and Jr), Eddie Murphy, Jerry Lewis; 3rd row: Vladimir Putin, Sid Caesar, LeBron James, Don Rickles, James Corden, Stephen Curry, Robin Williams, Peter Sellers

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