Jamaican Night at the Unseen Restaurant

On Unseen Restaurant nights I always try to cook food that people might not cook at home and in the process usually stretch myself – learning new techniques and experimenting with new flavours.

I was surprised at how easy it is to make Jerk Chicken.  I have bought, and really enjoyed, proprietary jerk sauce before and it makes a fantastic, quick barbecue marinade but, as is so often the case, the flavours are entirely different when you make them yourself.  The flavours were hot and spicy but also fresh and vibrant in a way that bought sauces aren’t.

I was a little nervous of the Scotch bonnet chillies – I had scaled the recipe up for fourteen people and guessed that I shouldn’t automatically quadruple the number of chillies.  I used four and then made the mistake of tasting the uncooked marinade – don’t try this at home!!   Thank goodness for natural yoghurt.

Curry goat is another reasonably easy dish to cook but this really isn’t a spur of the moment meal as it requires an overnight rest in the spices and long slow cooking.  I also prefer to make a curry the day before I need it to let the flavours really mingle but this isn’t essential.

Sourcing the goat in Cornwall took a little more effort than a trip to the supermarket.  This is why it’s good to build a relationship with a great butcher; mine doesn’t usually stock goat but he sourced some for me and found it locally.

We finished off with pineapple slices in a rum syrup and rum and raisin ice cream.  I’m not sure how authentically Jamaican this was but it was a nod to some traditional ingredients.

Sign of a good party

Food aside, the best thing about the Unseen Restaurant is the company:  Great people who are happy to mix it up and who don’t mind the lack of professionalism as I try to cook and serve and clean up and keep them waiting because the rice is taking too long.  I never quite know what to expect but Friday night brought singing, quizzes, inter-table challenges and a slightly embarrassing re-cycling box.  Who drank all that wine?  Well… I may have helped a bit…

Recipes

Jerk Chicken

Curry Goat

Rum and Raisin Ice cream

 

Jerk Chicken

Jamaican Recipe

Ingredients

1 tablespoon ground allspice

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon dried chilli flakes

2 teaspoons muscovado sugar

2 tablespoons runny honey

a small handful of flat-leaf parsley

a small handful of coriander

2 scotch bonnet chillies

1 garlic clove

a smallish thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

2 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 skinless chicken breasts

 Method

Put the chilli, garlic and ginger into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the rest of the ingredients except the chicken and pulse again until you get a thick paste. Don’t over do it – you want a bit of texture in there.

Put the chicken breasts into a sandwich bag and pour in the marinade. Massage well through the polythene – this saves you having to handle the marinade too much – those scotch bonnet chillies are pretty potent!

Leave to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour or two – longer is better.

Place in a roasting tin in a hot oven (220°C / 400°F / gas mark 6) until cooked through but still moist around 25 – 35 minutes depending on the size of your chicken breasts.

Serve with mashed sweet potato.