A Jerk or a Chicken?

6 05 2012

Between getting an iPad for Christmas and a smartphone for my birthday, somehow I feel less connected than ever.  (Oh, yeah, and I opened a restaurant, too.  It’s going well, which means it’s been keeping me very busy.  I’ll link to a few of my favorite reviews at the end of this post.) Seriously, though, does anyone else have this problem?  I almost never even turn on my computer anymore, to the point that I nearly forgot my password just now – fortunately, my fingers remembered where to go before I consciously knew what I was typing.  I mean, my phone notifies me immediately if I have an email, and if it’s something I want to respond to in any kind of depth, I leave it unread until I can get to the computer, because I hate typing on either of the aforementioned devices*. The vicious cycle continues until I have twenty-some messages that need attention and I feel so stressed about it that I just try to ignore all incoming email. First world problems, I know.  Speaking of, my wine glass is empty.  If you’ll pardon me while I go get a refill of La Beille’s delightful Macabeu

Like how I did that? Just started up again as though it hasn’t been almost 4 1/2 months since I so much as laid a keystroke on this blog of mine?  I’ve missed it.  I wanted to write something about our New Year’s menu, but I was on vacation, soaking up the moments with family and friends in anticipation of a very busy year to come.  And then I came back and the Busy happened.  More than I ever expected.  I worked 12-14 hour days for what seemed like forever, though it was probably only three weeks or so.  Then I got an assistant, which helped reduce my hours per day to a more reasonable 9-10.  But I was still working seven days a week.  I kept telling myself that as soon as I got a day off, I would write something for the blog.  I literally had one full day off between January 6 and March 24.  Blogging didn’t happen. Since then, I’ve gotten another part-time assistant, and I now have Sundays off.  They are usually spent going to the market, a museum or movie, cleaning the apartment, cooking something nice to eat, and winding down with a book, magazine, or maybe an episode or two of Boardwalk Empire (how nice that Steve Buscemi gets to be the badass for once).

Today, for example, I baked some apple muffins for breakfast, cooked up some spicy Spanish mussels – I couldn’t help but to punch it up with a little smoked paprika, which was great because the mussels themselves could have been better- for lunch, and am planning a homey meatloaf for dinner.  But few pictures get taken, even if I am taking note of the recipes.  Last week, however, I whipped up a jerk chicken recipe that I just had to document.  The sauce/marinade was so easy, and the dinner in general so effortless and mostly pantry-based, I needed to share it with the world.

I hope you like it as much as we did, and that it helps you through your own busy days.

Jerk Chicken

Fast, easy, and spicy, this recipe reminds me of the week I spent in Jamaica many years ago. And who couldn’t use a little island getaway every now and then?

3 hot peppers (ideally Scotch bonnet, but I used some skinny ones from North Africa, and they were good too)
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 large shallot or ½ a small red onion
2 large spring onions or 4-6 green onions, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbsp. allspice berries, crushed
2” / 5 cm piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
2 tsp. coarse salt
juice of ½ an orange

2 chicken leg quarters, or 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

1. Purée the peppers, garlic, shallot, spring onions, thyme, allspice, ginger, salt, and orange juice to a paste. I used my immersion blender, as I always do, but you could also use a food processor or a regular blender.

2. Score the skin of the chicken with a sharp knife and slather on the jerk sauce, reserving some for dipping later, if desired. Rub the sauce all over the chicken and leave to marinate in the fridge 1-24 hours (I did this around noon for dinner at eightish).

3. Heat your broiler to 395 F / 200 C. When it’s nice and hot, place the chicken on a rack over a sheet pan or roasting pan (line the pan with foil first to reduce messy clean-up) and broil 12-15 minutes, flipping the chicken over about halfway through the cooking time, until the skin is browned and crisp, the marinade is fragrant, and a thermometer inserted in the thickest part reads 165 F / 74 C.

4. Serve immediately with lime-cilantro quinoa (recipe follows).

Serves 2.

Lime-Cilantro Quinoa

This recipe spawned in my brain as a rice dish. It turned out I had no “regular” rice in the cupboard (I did have Thai, Basmati, Korean, and wild rices, but none of them seemed right), but I did have a box of quinoa. The flavors harmonized beautifully. Pardon the volume-only measures in this recipe – it’s still the way I cook grains.

2/3 cup quinoa
splash of neutral cooking oil (e.g. sunflower, grapeseed…)
1½ cups water
big pinch of coarse sea salt
1 clove garlic, minced
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
zest and juice of 1 lime
pinch of sugar (optional)
freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring, until the grains are coated with oil and just starting to get toasty.

2. Pour in the water, add the salt and garlic, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, until the quinoa has absorbed the liquid, about 15 minutes.

3. Fluff with a fork, and mix in the cilantro and lime zest and juice. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary with sugar, salt, and pepper.

Serves 2.

* * * * *

And now for the Blend reviews, if you’re interested.

In English: Alec Lobrano, Lindsey from Lost in Cheeseland (a burger hound if ever I knew one), Barbra Austin for Girls’ Guide to Paris, and Ann Mah.

In French: Le Fooding (as far as I know, my first mention by name in French food press – I was very, VERY excited to read this one), My Little Paris (names us Best Burger in Paris, resulting in our being completely slammed for weeks afterwards), Pascale from C’est moi qui l’ai fait!, and GQ France.

In print: An article by Clotilde Dusoulier of Chocolate & Zucchini in the March 2012 issue of Metropolitan (the Eurostar magazine), and a blurb by Adrian Moore for the May 2012 Monocle.

*And yet, I have become pathetically dependent on auto-correct to put spaces between words for me. I know I can’t be the only one… right?

p.s. What’s that post title about, anyway? Well, after such a long absence from blogging, I feel like a jerk for neglecting this space for so long, even if I do have some very valid excuses, and I’m also afraid I’ll have no readers left, which makes me a chicken.  And less inclined to write.  Yet another vicious cycle.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.




16 responses

6 05 2012
Lindsey (@LostNCheeseland)

I was so excited to see your post in my inbox! Even if you only post once a month or once every 4 months, I’ll read. And what a recipe to mark the return! Thanks also for mentioning my Blend review – I’m due for a visit!

6 05 2012

This recipe is going on the menu for later this month, for sure. I’m glad you found a moment to write again. And congrats on the success of the restaurant!

6 05 2012
Jenni Field (@onlinepastrychf)

You are not a jerk. But the chicken is. And I just bought some lovely organic thighs today. Kismet! Happy you’re back at it (although I promise not to hold you to a tight schedule;) So happy for you guys that Blend is going so well! Best Burger in Paris sounds like it could be a song. 🙂

6 05 2012

Lindsey – You’re too sweet! Thanks, and I hope to see you soon, at Blend, or elsewhere.

Lturtle – Thank you, I just know you’ll love the recipe – it’s a great one for when you don’t feel like cooking. 😉

Jenni – It is Kismet! A Jimmy Buffett song, perhaps? 😉

7 05 2012

I was so happy to see your post in my email inbox today and to hear that things are going well with your new job and restaurant. I have read several very nice reviews! Congratulations! I passed on the information to my cousins who live in Paris.

7 05 2012

Yay, Camille! I can’t wait to try this new chicken. Congrats on Blend — you and your buns deserve all your success 🙂

8 05 2012
Sweet Freak

Welcome back! And don’t beat yourself up for the absence… I think we all empathize and sadly agree that it feels more and more impossible to keep up (although, I bought an iPad at Thanksgiving and have turned the sucker on not even a half dozen times since then). That said, it sounds like you’ve been up to all kinds of exciting and rewarding adventures and moments—looking forward to hearing more!

10 05 2012

Squeeeee! Thankfully Words With Friends ensures I feel calm about the fact that you are still alive and enjoying life, but oh golly, it’s lovely to read your words again! Completely understand about the email situation – no matter how hard I try, I can’t get the number of substantial deserve-a-good-thought-out-reply “unread” emails under 80. So I do the nauseous avoid thing, and then suddenly some of the emails are over a year old.

I feel so much better, though, knowing that your busyness is now about your passion/own restaurant, rather than the understaffed stressful mess you were in last year. Hugs and kissed and support from your ever-waiting-for-words Aussie sister! xo

10 05 2012
hungry dog

Glad to see you back! The chicken sounds fantastic. I am a little bit afraid of hot peppers but I might give this a try anyway.

Look forward to your next post, whenever it is!

16 05 2012

Michel – Thank you! It warms my heart to know people look forward to reading this little blog of mine.

Ann – Aw, thanks! And do try the chicken!

Sweet Freak – I think I have the opposite problem – I’ve become almost completely dependent on my ipad, to the exclusion of my real computer.

Hannah – 80! That actually makes me feel a lot better about myself. 🙂

hungry dog – But hot peppers are so wonderful! You could also modify this to use not-so-scorching ones like jalapenos or serranos.

1 06 2012

I think we will try this recipe tomorrow when Joyce and Alexander are here. What pepper should I look for here?

5 06 2012
Inger Wilkerson

Glad to see you back! I figured the restaurant was keeping you busy. Food looks great as usual–can’t believe I went to the health food store and left without quinoa which I have been meaning to try for ages.

10 07 2012

Just wanted to say, better late than never, kudos on the spectacular reviews at Blend! Hoping to make it back to Paris and taste those suckers in the not too distant future!

29 07 2012

Hey, you’re back! Great news. Tell us more about the restaurant!

31 07 2012
Mistress of Spices (@spicemistress21)

Nice to see a post from you, and I’m so happy to know that Blend is doing well! Can’t wait to pass through Paris and try it (hopefully soon). Nice jerk recipe, and I think that I suffer from the same email paralysis problem as you with my iPhone, iPad, etc!

31 07 2012
Mistress of Spices (@spicemistress21)

P.S. The lime cilantro quinoa sounds delish! I will definitely try it out.

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