Jerk-spiced chicken sandwich with chimichurri

This “jerk” is no trouble

Originally appeared in the July 14, 2011 edition of The Southside Times.

The recipe’s title may sound intricate, but this is really just a simple sandwich.  There are really three key elements to any sandwich:  bread, spread (or condiment), and body.

Let’s start with the bread.  The distinctly rustic crust and tender-tunneled texture of ciabatta adds a nice “mouth-feel” effect, the buns acting like bookends to showcase the filling.  Read more after the jump:Moving on to the spread.  Frequently used with grilled meats, chimichurri is a popular condiment made with fresh herbs, garlic, oil, and seasonings (one of my former chefs once mentioned that chimichurri was the South American counterpart to American ketchup).  This green version uses cilantro and parsley, while the remaining ingredients offer a salty tartness.

And now the body.  I’m using chicken (but you can also use turkey) seasoned with jerk, a spice mixture used in ubiquity in Jamaica, Cayman Islands, and throughout the Caribbean.  The dry spice can be easily procured at your local grocery store.  To add another layer of flavor, I suggest using either some sort of cheese.  Mozzarella would be nice; but if you can find gouda (or even better smoked gouda), definitely give that a try.

Jerk-spiced chicken sandwich with chimichurri sauce

Serves 2

  • 1 ½ pounds chicken thighs
  • As needed, water
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 dried arbol chile
  • ½ red onion, minced
  • As needed, jerk seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 slices of mozzarella or gouda

Chimichurri

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 ½ cups fresh cilantro
  • 1 ½ cups fresh flat parsley
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • Roughly ½ cup (or more) olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • To taste, kosher salt and cracked black pepper

1.  Place chicken thighs in a wide sauté pan, and pour on water to just cover meat.  Add crushed garlic and arbol chile.  Bring water to simmer, maintaining gentle heat till chicken is cooked through (about 1 hour).  Remove chicken and allow to cool.  Increase heat of cooking liquid and reduce by half, strain and keep warm.  Remove fat and connected tissue from thighs, and shred or chop meat.

2.  In a separate pan with a bit of oil, sauté onion until soft.  Add chicken along with a small amount of cooking liquid to rehydrate mixture.  Sprinkle in desire amount of jerk seasoning, along with molasses and paprika.  Place chicken on ciabatta buns along with sliced cheese.

3.  For sauce: in blender or food processor, add all ingredients, and pulse until herbs are finely chopped (may need to adjust with more oil).

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