Sunday, September 21, 2008

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Jamaican Jerk Chicken is one of my favorite dishes to grill. I usually marinate the chicken for about 24 hours, but it's not absolutely necessary. This is not 100% authentic, if such a thing even exists with this recipe. And none of the recipes I've seen call for tomatillos, but I think they add a great citrus quality and a nice tang. When you make the sauce, it's better to roast the chilies, garlic, and onion over a fire until they are a bit blackened. The garlic can be roasted in the paper, and peeled afterwards. It's really just like making a salsa, except we are going to puree it a bit more.

For the Salsa:
5 medium tomatillos - husked, roasted, and halved
1/2 onion - roasted, peeled, and diced
3-4 garlic cloves - roasted, peeled
1-2 habanero chilies - roasted, stemmed, and halved
1 large lime - just the juice
1/2 tsp allspice, ground
1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp thyme, dried
2 tsp ginger, fresh, minced
1 Tbsp brown sugar, dark
1 Tbsp rum, dark
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, or fresh herb of your choice
TT black pepper
TT salt

In a blender, chop up the garlic, habaneros, and lime juice. Add the remaining ingredients and puree until nearly smooth.

For the Chicken:
Marinate the chicken in this sauce for about 24 hours. Grill the chicken over hot coals until it is charred. Move the chicken to indirect heat and cook with the grill lid on until done. While the chicken is cooking, heat the marinade until boiling and reduce it slightly. Dunk the chicken in the sauce before serving, and serve a bit more of the sauce on the side for dipping.

Serving suggestion:
Add a couple of tablespoons of the Jerk Sauce to your favorite rice pilaf recipe. (Make sure the sauce is boiled before consuming to kill any bad bugs from the raw chicken.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Help Identify This Snake!

This snake was found in Fulton County, Illinois. If anyone knows what it is, please let me know. Sorry the quality is so poor, I took the picture with my phone and could not get much closer to it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lazy Buddy

I haven't posted any puppy pictures in a while, and I'm really missing my dog after spending the weekend away from him. So here he is being lazy on my deck.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Woking Out

I'm so far behind on blogging it's not even funny, but I have a few posts in queue that I will finish as I have time. These photos were taken a few weeks ago, and document my experimentation with Thai cooking over a charcoal fire. I use hardwood lump charcoal that basically resembles partially burnt blocks of wood. They have several advantages which include being easy to light, burning hotter, lacking chemical additives, and they make a cool clinking sound when you pour them out of the bag. The downside is that they are more expensive than briquettes and burn up much more quickly.

Whenever I need to ignite a small to medium size batch of coals, I turn to my chimney starter. It's a very simple device that suspends coals in a tube over a single sheet of burning newspaper. In about fifteen minutes, you have a container full of red hot coals to dump into your grill, sans the lighter fluid taste. In this case, I decided to put a small grate directly atop the chimney starter (to allow some airflow) and heat my wok directly on the grate. The heat was high enough to achieve "wok hei" or the "flavor of the wok." This can only be achieved over very intense heat, and is not always possible on a consumer gas range; not to mention it can cause more than a little smoke.

I decided to make Pad Se Ew again, and declare this experiment to be a success, although I can't take credit for it. I'm sure this has been done thousands of times before, and I've even seen Alton Brown cook with a wok over a turkey fryer. It was a bit of a pain to cart everything outside, but it was worth it not to have the house smell like a Thai kitchen for two days (not that it would necessarily be a bad thing). Now I just need to spring for a better wok!

Lump Charcoal in a Chimney Starter

A REALLY hot wok

Seared Tofu - This kind of sear can only be done in a wok.

The Finished Pad Se EW

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sushi at Kobe

A few weeks ago, Becka and I ate sushi at Kobe in Bloomington. It was fantastic! We sat at the bar and had a terrific time while the chef prepared these outstanding creations. This was probably the best Sushi I've had outside of Chicago, and I only wish I had my camera to take better quality pictures than what I got with my phone.