Thursday, September 24, 2009
After touching down a few nights ago as a category 5 disaster for "Pizza Night at Joel's," I can now confirm that Hurricane Ricchio has quieted down to a light rain tonight. A bottle of late night wine from the gas station calms my nerves enough to actually enjoy a clear thought and recollect the goings on from last week's Jamaican dinner.
The party was held at a house on the East End that seemed more like it was built for Hobbits to inhabit than people, which prompted Dietz and I to get most of the cooking done at our house beforehand. He decided to make codfish and ackee with salt pork cracklings, and I opted for jerk chicken.
I called Dan Perron up at Sumner Valley Farm the Monday beforehand and ordered 3 chickens to be brought to the Wednesday farmer's market in Portland. These birds are well cared for (the guy actually prays to each chicken before he slaughters it), and the flavor is incredible. The next step was to score some Jamaican Allspice (Pimento) wood to smoke the chickens. We found pimentowood.com and ordered a bag for about 25.00 (the guy also threw in a pimentowood.com apron, which made me look like I worked at the Jamaican Home Depot). This jerk chicken recipe is time consuming but WELL worth it as it was the best I've ever had...
3 yellow onions, chopped
1.5 cups scallions
6 tsp fresh thyme leaves
3 tsp salt
6 tsp sugar
4 teaspoons ground Jamaican allspice
1.5 tsp ground nutmeg
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
4 habaneros, seeded and chopped (be careful when touching any of your 2000 parts later)
4 tsp black pepper
10 tblsp Chinese light soy
3 tblsp vegetable oil
3 tblsp good cider vinegar
grind everything into a paste. Resist urge to eat marinade because it smells so fucking good.. Break down and marinate chicken overnight.
To make the chicken:
Pull the chicken out of the marinade, reserving for basting. Soak the allspice wood chips in warm water.
Build a low fire in a charcoal grill with a combination of hardwood charcoal and allspice wood. Hold the temperature at 225 degrees. Place the chicken pieces on the grill, skin side down. Cover the grill and cook the chicken, turning and basting every 20 minutes or so for about an hour and 20 minutes. Add allspice chips whenever the smoke dies down. Stand directly in the smoke to make your skin and clothes smell like delicious allspice wood. It's done when the flesh feels firm and the juices run clear when pricked with a fork.
As far as Dietz's dish, I'm not sure the exact method he used but it was amazing. You can get canned Ackee at the Bodega Latina and I would reccomend Harbor Fish for salt cod. Ackee is one of the most bizarre fruits I've ever eaten, as it resembles scrambled eggs.
The hostess of the party, Laura, had ordered ox-tails from the Meat House in South Portland to make a stew. They were the biggest I'd ever seen, and ended up needing an obscene amount of time braising (until the next day) to reach their full potential - proving that sometimes it pays to get fucked up and forget to turn your slow-cooker off..
Now I know it's a Jamaican party, but I hate reggae. It actually makes me angry, which seems to amaze most people. Nikki tries without success to find a reggae track that I like, even though I insist that I'm doing ok "just ignoring the music." Finally she asks me what song I want to hear next and I make her play "Still of the Night" by Whitesnake. My mood improves immediately. We progress to "Return of the Mack" by Maurice Marks and that "Baby when we're grinding" song by NEXT. I let her play a few more of her own before I declare that it's officially "Sean Paul Time." All the girls seem to appreciate the way my shirt smells like allspice wood..
For drinks we kept it pretty traditional: Guiness Punch (Guiness and sweetened condensed milk), Red Stripe, and Planter's Punches made from Appleton's Rum, the recipe as follows:
2 parts rum (preferably Appletons)
1 part orange juice
1/2 part sour mix (homemade)
2 orange slices
1 count grenadine
muddle all of the ingredients in the shaker, add ice, and shake violently. pour contents into a highball glass and garnish with a delightful green cocktail umbrella. Pound drink and place delightful green cocktail umbrella in your hair and smile coyly at whoever will appreciate it the least. Become defensive and make another drink, pounding a red stripe whilst compiling the ingredients. Have some more jerk chicken..
By the way, I decided that I'm going to be Roseanne Barr for Halloween.