Monday, August 31, 2009

Jerk and Chicken and Sweetpotato

First, I blame our kitchen for this week's jerkiness. You've heard the phrase, "too many cooks in the kitchen"--well, in our kitchen, even two cooks seems to be too many. Sure, there are two stations--gaps of available counter space big enough to accommodate a cutting board--but each of these stations puts the cook in question in front of one of two major cabinets: one blocks the spices, vinegars, etc. and the other blocks all cooking vessels of any kind.

So that's fun.

In any case, this set-up explains why, while attempting to make the papaya salsa that would go on top of our baked sweet potatoes and jerk chicken, I was interrupted several times by Ian's opening and closing of the cabinet in front of me. I made the mistake of putting him in charge of the spice rub for the chicken, even though I was standing in front of the spices. I even gave him a five-minute head-start, hoping he'd at least get all the bottles he needed by the time I got to my board, but no. Ian is an excellent helper, but an incredibly slow one. He made an individual trip to the cabinet for each spice. He took the bottle of cinnamon, measured what he needed, put it back. Checked the recipe. Took the bottle of cayenne, measured what he needed, put it back. Checked the recipe. Nutmeg, chives, onion powder, thyme, allspice, sugar, salt, black pepper. Each ingredient got its own trip, and I got my feathers more than ruffled--they were standing on end. Needless to say, I lost my temper a few times. Nothing major. Just some verbal barbs and some frustrated squawking, but still. I got angry. And I apologized. Several times.

But at least I've figured this out--so next time, the person by the pots will be in charge of the actual cooking and the person by the spices can make any rubs or marinades. Trial and error, I suppose. And error and error and error.

That being said, let me tell you about the amazing meal we made. It was my attempt at duplicating Claim Jumper's Jamaican Jerk Sweetpotato (don't ask me why their menu has decided that sweet potato should be one word, but they have). It is absolutely mouthwatering, and while I didn't get the exact flavor I remember from the restaurant (mainly because my grocery store didn't offer the right kind of sweet potato, I think) it is delicious. The recipe is as follows:

Jerk Chicken Sweet Potato

2 sweet potatoes (try to get the kind with orange flesh--they might technically be yams), baked until the skins are crisp and the flesh is tender (poke holes in the potatoes, spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt, cook directly on oven rack)

1 small white onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 large handful cilantro, chopped
1 fat clove garlic (or two small), minced
8 slices jarred jalapeno, minced
1 papaya (~1 lb), diced
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
(mix all these together, refrigerate until needed)

2 6-oz chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tbsp onion powder
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp dried chives
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp black pepper
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
(mix all spices together, coat chicken pieces w/spice mixture, cook chicken in skillet w/nonstick spray)

green onions

To assemble:
When potatoes are done, cut them open and add about 1 tbsp butter (optional); top with salsa and chicken; add green onions; drizzle with honey

Oh. My. Goodness. You will not believe what an incredible meal this is. And while the Claim Jumper menu had this item listed at about 1400 calories, I'm fairly certain my version doesn't exceed 600 calories--

Sweet potato: 112
6 oz chicken breast: 165
papaya salsa: 150
honey: 60
butter: 100

Of course, the cooking spray does add a few calories (I don't care what the label says, it isn't calorie-free) and so do the spices (again, they might not need to list calories because they are so negligible, but there has to be some energy in them).

Regardless of the calories, this is a sweet and spicy, hearty dish that absolutely blows my mind. It's my new favorite. And I didn't even know I liked papaya. Oh, but I do. And the sweetness of the cinnamon really jives with the sweetness of the potato, and the nutmeg...

I have to stop writing about this or there will be drool all over my keyboard.


  1. Gotta try this. I love that you were able to lower the calories!

  2. I just came across your blog and so love how it relates to cooking with my own husband! I too have a cooking blog exploring trial and error relatively 'healthy' recipes with my kids and fam on the go. I so love this dish from claim jumpers and can't wait to try it!

  3. I made this over the weekend, but made a mango salsa instead, substituting the white onion for red, the red pepper for green, and the mango for the papaya. I also ditched the jarred jalapeño. It was delicious.

    Thanks for the amazing recipe.

  4. I just made this for my husband for father's day. He loved it and the rest of the family voted it a keeper! Soooooo good. Thank you for doing the hard work for us!