Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Jamaican Jerk Marinade Recipe & Skewers

Aside from decorating my home and DIY-ing my way through life, I also enjoy cooking. I don't cook nearly as much as I should, but when I do, I love to whip up something new, different, and if it's easy, well then...that's a bonus!
As I was scrolling through Pinterest the other night, and as my boyfriend lurked over my shoulder, he saw a picture of some shrimp skewers and excitedly asked me to pin it. He loves shrimp but me...not so much. I willingly obliged anyways.
I'm not much of a seafood fan, so naturally I tend to cook food I'm familiar with and food I love but I'd like to make more of an effort to cook food he loves too. So when he asked me to pin these shrimp skewers, I knew that I wouldn't eat them but I also knew that I could make a chicken version that I'd love just as much as he'd love the shrimp and we'd both be happy campers.
After being re-directed to the site for the shrimp skewer recipe the only ingredients listed were shrimp and jerk marinade. Huh? That's all? No breakdown of what's in the jerk marinade? Or can you buy a bottle of the stuff? I was clueless.
That was a total bust. But even though I had never had "jerk" anything, it still sounded good, and certainly looked good. So I improvised and decided to make my own. After Googling for a jerk marinade recipe and coming across what seemed like a million variations, I pieced together my variation and I have to was mighty delicious!
Jerk marinades are often used as a dry spice rub or as a wet marinade and for this recipe, I made a wet marinade for my proteins. The jerk marinades are made up of numerous seasonings and spices which I surprisingly had most of them on hand. But enough with the's what you'll need to get your jerk on:
1 lb. raw jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb. chicken breast, cut into cubes
3/4 c. vegetable oil
2 habanero peppers, seeded and chopped 
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped (reserve some for garnish)
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. ginger
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. coarse black pepper
1 tsp. course sea salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
(ginger and chili powder not pictured)

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the proteins (shrimp/chicken). Habanero pepper, jalapeno, garlic, and cilantro do not need to be finely chopped. You'll see why in a second.
**Just as a word of caution - we love spicy food and therefore added 2 habaneros and a jalapeno, but even then it wasn't all that hot for us. If you're unsure or do not like spicy food, just stick to the jalapeno or omit both all together**

With all ingredients in the bowl, give it a quick stir.
It's starting to come together!
After all your ingredients have been quickly stirred, pour everything into the blender and puree until your marinade is no longer chunky.
At this point you'll want to place your proteins into Ziplock bags and divide the marinade between the two. This recipe should be enough for 2, 1 lb. proteins.
Once finished pouring your marinade into the bags, gently massage the marinade into the meat for an even coverage and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours. The longer the better!
While your proteins are marinating, you'll want to prepare your skewer sticks. Start by filling your sink with water and place let your skewer sticks soak.
Soaking your skewer sticks will help prevent them from burning or catching fire when you place them on the BBQ later.
Once your proteins have marinated and your skewer sticks have soaked sufficiently, it's now time to assemble your kabobs.
I just used red onion and green pepper cut up into decent sized chunks but you could also use tomato, jalapeno, or even pineapple would be great too!
For the skewers, I layered red onion, then green pepper, shrimp or chicken, and repeat, then layered everything into a baking dish to take down to the BBQ.
We started by placing the chicken skewers on the BBQ first because they take longer to cook through. If you're cooking chicken and shrimp be sure to take this into consideration to plan your cooking times accordingly.
Once the chicken was cooked through about half way (approx. 7 mins) we added the shrimp skewers to the BBQ so that they would finish about the same time. Cooking times for your chicken may vary from ours depending on how thick/big you cut your chicken cubes.
After everything was cooked through and had a nice char to it (the best part in my opinion) it was time to eat! (OK...this was the best part)
I served the jerk shrimp and chicken skewers atop a bed of cilantro citrus white rice (recipe coming soon) and garnished with a little extra cilantro. Deeelicous!
Man o man, this was good and looking at all these pictures is making my mouth water!
It definitely didn't disappoint and I'm so glad that I was able to give my man the seafood he so loves while adapting the dish to accommodate my taste too! I just love it when a recipe can pull double duty like that!
Think you'll give this recipe a shot? Do you love spicy food as much as we do? Whatever you do, be sure to make'll be glad you did!