Cirque du Jerk

Sit back and marvel at the extravaganza. 

With summer nipping at our heels this weekend, out came the bbq’s and we bellied up to the beach.  It was a friend’s birthday, and everyone plus their nephew-once-removed came out to celebrate.  Knowing in advance the potential of the gathering to end up in a chaotic frenzy,  I did some damage control and brought along an arsenal of meat. 

I found myself a shrink-wrapped chicken that undoubtedly was the recipient of one butcher’s wrath and fury.  This baby was hacked up with no rhyme or reason.  Legs looked like wings, and breasts were indistinguishable from thighs.   The opportunity for partial bone excavation (or throat-lodged loss of breath) was also very real. Regardless, it was all there, and the lack of giblets meant I was a happy camper in the end.  You can hack all you want as long as I don’t have to venture into the deep for a slimy surprise.  The intimate quest makes me uncomfortable, to say the least. 

Moved by the sunshine, and the accompanying vibes of Mr. Marley, I was feeling some jerk chicken.  I had a spice rub in my cupboard, but that just seemed too easy.  Kicking it up a notch, I sought out this recipe for a blended marinade via Nigella Lawson.  With a little Koreanization, we were in business.

Not the same for the grill component.  At face value, we seemed well off.  A trio had been arranged on the beach, alongside ample coals.  First thing first, I staked a claim, and loaded the grill up with charcoal.  Incentive for taking initiative: control of the almighty torch.  Complete with trigger, this thing made you want to incinerate.  Next best only to a class full of bowing students. P-O-W-E-R. 

Soon enough, the coals were glowing and it was time to get down and dirty.  On further assessment, the absence of a standard-sized grill rack was brought to our attention.  In its place were two small paddle-esque grates. Finding my first opportunity to amaze and astound, I carefully balanced the grates together.  The whole affair was contingent on a slight overlap in the center.  That, and the careful arrangement of  points of pressure (aka carnage o’ chicken).  I could say this worked like a charm, but that wouldn’t have been a circus.  I promised a spectacle.  

No big deal.

Uneven heat from the coals meant frequent chicken flipping was necessary.  This allowed me to debut my ability to calculate the ever-changing points of balance.  With each flip, the grates dipped and the bystanders gasped and squealed. It was a rollercoaster of emotion as we escaped chicken fiasco time and time again. 

For one onlooker, the thrill proved all too much.  She summoned her resourcefulness, and emerged from the woods with a perfectly sized stick.  Without so much as an utterance (imperative for the climactic build-up), she nestled the branch across the grill and under the grates for support.  Genius!  She was showered with praise. 

At this point, it seemed the show was over.  We would proceed as normal, flip to our heart’s content,  and consume the reward subsequently.  And then it happened. 

 

Watch your eyebrows!

 

Caught up in a flurry of social exchange, no one really saw it coming.  All of a sudden, a geyser of fire shot up to the sky!  There was a crack, and the stick was all but a distant memory. Here, the show became interactive.  A front-row admirer’s cat-like reflexes are to thank for saving our supper from the inferno of doom.  Crisis averted, audience AMAZED.

When the excitement died down, it was time to eat.  The chicken was delicious and enjoyed.  There were requests for an encore, but it may have been a limited run.

Jerk Chicken

Adapted from Homestyle Jerk Chicken by Nigella Lawson

Serves 3-4

1 whole chicken, hacked to bits

1  teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon dried thyme (or I used mixed herbs)

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I used paprika)

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (stand-in for ground ginger and nutmeg)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 clove garlic, peeled

1 1″ piece ginger root, peeled and cut into chunks

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Juice from 1 lemon

2 tablespoons soy sauce (I used teriyaki sauce)

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

2 fresh small(spicy!) chile, whole

1 small onion, peeled and quartered

Combine all ingredients in a blender, puree until smooth.  Pour over chicken in a ziplock bag and allow to marinate.  Grill and enjoy (BYOGG: Bring Your Own Grill Grate).

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