Food & Drink

Spices, pineapple in Jamaican jerk chicken tacos can be addictive

Michelle Madden

These Jamaican jerk chicken Tacos with Creamy Caribbean Coleslaw offer a symphony of flavors for the palate.
Michelle Madden These Jamaican jerk chicken Tacos with Creamy Caribbean Coleslaw offer a symphony of flavors for the palate.
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Tacos, tacos, tacos! I could eat them all day long.

From beef tacos to shrimp tacos and different varieties in between, I fell in love with tacos at a young age.

My mother makes them best, in my opinion. I could be a bit biased because I started out with her American-Mexican version of ground beef tacos before I had any authentic version, but my opinion still stands. It wasn’t until I was around 7 or 8 years old (If my memory serves me right) that I encountered my first “authentic” Mexican taco from a well known restaurant in Chicago by the name of Pepe’s, and I fell in love all over again, in a totally different way.

I’m not sure how I came across Jamaican-style tacos, but I am sure that my family, friends and patrons are as glad as I am that I did. This recipe showcases my own version of Jamaican jerk tacos. Bursting with flavor and color they are easy to make.

These tacos make for a simple and satisfying meal that is so quick to make that you can even make it on week nights. Be warned, though, that these Jamaican jerk tacos are addictive.

As for most of my love of certain foods, my love for these Jamaican jerk tacos began in Chicago, my hometown. After moving to Iowa, I found it more difficult to find an establishment that sold jerk meats. This prompted me to do some research create my own version of a hometown favorite that I had grown to love and missed.

I perfected my jerk chicken taco recipe around 2015 while trying to open the palates of my patrons around town. I had no idea that a tortilla shell, some well-seasoned shredded chicken and a few crunchy vegetables would make such a satisfying meal. It was an absolute hit.

The heat from the jerk seasonings, the sweet from the pineapple and the cool crunch of the cabbage come together in a symphony of flavor that entices your senses into a blissful overload of flavor combinations and catches your visual attention before you even take a bite. The aroma alone will perk your enthusiasm to at least give it a try, even if you don’t care for spicy foods. These jerk chicken tacos can be easily modified to accommodate your tolerance for spice.

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Don’t be afraid to try different proteins in these tacos, either. I’ve tried beef, pork and even seafood and all were a hit.

Treat yourself, your family and your friends to this healthy meal that is quick to prepare and is satisfying.

You can even prepare them ahead of time for an easy take-along meal for potlucks, church functions or family functions. You will wow even the most skeptical and picky eaters.

Whether you try my version or venture out to create your very own version (encouraged), be sure to have fun and be creative. After all, food should be made to be enjoyed and appreciated.

So let’s wash those hands, roll up your sleeves, and get started creating your very own culinary magic with Jamaican jerk tacos.

Recipe

Jerk Chicken Tacos with Creamy Caribbean Coleslaw

1 can Rotel original diced tomatoes and green chilies

1/4 cup orange juice

4 large garlic cloves peeled

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

3 scallions chopped

1 tablespoon chopped thyme

1 Scotch bonnet or habanero pepper seeded

1 (1 inch) piece of ginger to be peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar (dark)

2 tablespoons salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 pounds chicken (I use breast and legs)

1 can pineapple tidbits with juice (not syrup)

Combine all ingredients except chicken into a food processor and puree. The marinade will be thick. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl while mixing.

Put chicken in a Ziploc bag and add marinade. Be sure to massage all chicken pieces in the bag so that the marinade covers all pieces, then refrigerate at least 30 minutes up to 24 hours for best flavor results.

You can grill the meat for a more authentic flavor. Allow 30 minutes out of fridge to bring the meat to room temperature, first. Also be sure to oil the grill grates and keep your heat to medium high. The stove top method is what I used this time: Preheat large skillet/grill pan (cast iron is preferred), coat lightly with oil. Remove chicken from bag and marinade then cook until done (10 to 15 minutes.)

Shred chicken.

Source: Michelle Madden

CREAMY CARIBBEAN COLESLAW

1 bag cabbage slaw

1 can pineapple tidbits (drained)

1/2 cup cilantro

1/3 cup non-fat plain yogurt

2 tablespoons mayo (can use reduced fat)

1 tablespoon yellow mustard

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon honey (Or agave nectar)

1 tablespoon Cajun spice (Can use hot sauce)

1 tablespoon sugar or to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

*Can also add diced yellow, red and orange bell peppers

Toss the cabbage slaw, pineapples and cilantro in a large bowl

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Whisk yogurt, mayo, mustard, apple cider vinegar, honey, Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over cabbage mixture and toss to coat. Refrigerate.

*6-8 Taco shells (Flour, corn or street tacos are great) and lime wedges for garnish and added flavor to squeeze over tacos once assembled.

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