When it comes to humor, I have to admit that I'm not proud. While I love to spend hours setting up elaborate practical jokes, and will often compose brilliant double, triple, or even quadruple-entendres, I'm not above going for the low-hanging fruit. I will, if the opportunity arises, resort to fart jokes, idiotic puns, and even slapstick. Anything to get a laugh.
With that in mind, it's hardly surprising that I sometimes descend to the lowest of the low: cheap translation humor. For example, I have a Scottish cookbook, passed on to me by my mother, that has a recipe for "Roastit Bubblyjock wi' Cheston Crappin." While there's nothing funny about roasted turkey with chestnut stuffing, roastit bubblyjock had me laughing for months. Frankly, it still brings a smile to my face. The same goes for "Spotted Dick with Custard," which was a standard dessert at my office canteen when I worked in the UK. Am I immature for giggling like a schoolgirl whenever it was on the menu? Yes, I am. Did that stop me from offering to let co-workers take a bite of my spotted dick? No, it didn't.
Recently, one of my Walletpop colleagues gave me a link to a site that carried a list of foods with funny names. The really funny thing was that I had tried many of the products that I saw featured there. Mental mints? Check. Jamaican Cock soup? Been there, done that. "Smack My Ass" hot sauce? It's on my shelf.
What's even worse is that I've gotten so used to some of these foods that I don't see the humor anymore. Whenever somebody giggles about Jerk Chicken or Sok Banan, it takes me a moment to realize that they're not familiar with Jamaican cuisine or the Polish name for "banana juice." Still, as long as I can laugh at "Dry Sack on the rocks" or Cockburn's Ruby Red Port, I guess I'll be okay.
Without any further ado, I'm going to pass on a recipe for jerk chicken. While there are many ways to jerk a chicken, this recipe is definitely adapted for more mainstream American tastes. First off, although it's a really hot dish, it's a lot milder than traditional Jamaican jerk chicken, which is almost inedible. Second, I use skinless, boneless chicken, while traditional Jamaican cooks use whole breasts. They then chop them up, leaving the bones in little, splintered chunks that are an invitation to choking.
Jamaican Jerk Chicken
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup orange juice
Juice of one lime
2 tablespoons light olive oil
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 scallions, coarsely chopped
1-2 habañero peppers, de-seeded
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 tablespoon allspice, ground
1 tablespoon cinnamon, ground
1 tablespoon nutmeg, ground
1 tablespoon ginger, ground
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Combine all ingredients except chicken breasts in a blender or food processor and blend until almost smooth. Combine paste with breasts in a large ziplock bag or casserole dish, making sure that the chicken breasts are well-coated. Let marinate for a few hours or overnight.
To cook: Jerk chicken is, traditionally, cooked on a grill, but you can also broil it in an oven or (my preferred method) saute/steam it over medium heat in a non-stick pan. For the stove-top method, heat two teaspoons of light olive oil in a non-stick pan until the oil makes a crackling sound when you put food in it. Lightly sear the breasts until they are browned on both sides, then add about a quarter cup of water to the pan. Put a top over the chicken and check it every few minutes to make sure that it isn't burning or cooking dry; add water as needed. The breasts are done when you can pierce them with a fork and the juices run clear.
One big warning: habañeros are serious, serious peppers. If your tastes tend toward milder flavors, you might try switching them out for jalapeño or even poblano peppers. Also, from sad experience, I can tell you that touching them with unprotected hands is a recipe for disaster, especially if you wear contact lenses. Please, I beg you, wear gloves when handling them!
Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. Sadly, he makes Beavis and Butthead look mature.
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