Soup Jerk

I’ve been making a Jerk Chicken dish for several years now.  It has transitioned from a grilled dish to an oven-baked one, with good results.  The original idea got me onto an epidosode of “The Splendid Table” with Lynne Rosetto Kasper. She even took me seriously, which was a thrill.  I say that because the marinade is a little on the strange side, especially if Caribbean cooking is not something you’ve done often.

The Original Jerk Chicken recipe starts with a tangy, spicy, nutty paste made with:

  • 1/2 cup of plain yogurt
  • a very ripe banana (I put overripe ones in the freezer for just this reason – well, and muffins, too)
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite peanut butter
  • a tablespoon of soy sauce
  • as much of your favorite Jerk seasoning blend as you like (Penzey’s has a great one)

Mash it all into a paste and coat some boneless, skinned chicken thighs with it.  I prefer thighs to breaimagest meat.

As I mentioned, this started out going on the grill.  I realized, though, that I lost half the good paste to the grill, since I had to turn the chicken so often to keep the paste from burning.  It can be done, though.

I recently started baking the dish in the oven out of convenience, and found I like it even better.  The sauce thins out as the meat exudes broth, but the flavors move deeper into the meat.  And it is easy; a dish of six thighs cooks in about 25 minutes – just long enough to pan fry some plantain in a bit of coconut oil and sauté some chopped greens, like the last of the Swiss Chard I picked before last weekend’s surprise snow.  What a great warming meal!

Then, last night, as I was putting away the leftovers, I looked at that baking dish with the rich brothy sauce, the remaining three thighs and a nice pile of braised chard and thought “SOUP!”   It was half done, already.

Here’s what I did to finish it this morning.

  • I cut six or seven smallish Yukon Gold potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes and put them in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  • The leftover sauce went in next, followed by:
  • the remaining thighs, which I tore into bite-size pieces
  • a good solid cup or more of the cooked Swiss Chard (any greens, including limp Romaine Lettuce would work just as well)
  • and a quart of chicken broth. In this case I used Earth Fare Organic broth in the carton, but homemade is even better, if you have it
  • Just for fun, because it is a Caribbean-influenced dish, after all, I added about 1/4 cup coconut oil.

It simmered on low all day.  It would have been just fine as it was, but I felt like boosting the richness just a tad, so just before serving, I softened about 1/4 cup cream cheese and tempered it with hot broth – ladling the broth into the cream cheese while stirring briskly to eliminate lumps.  This mixture went back into the soup, which was then ladled into warm bowls.

Fantastic stuff. The first bite of those tender, seasoned potatoes and we swooned.