Warm weather screams casual meals to me. As the temperatures rise outside the last thing you want to do is spend hours in a hot kitchen making a fancy meal. So, our Sunday Suppers during the summer months are more low key but that doesn’t mean that the flavors aren’t amazing! One of my favorite warm weather meals are these Jerk Chicken Burgers from Mark Bittman’s VB6 cookbook. Jerk, is a Jamaican spice blend and it gives these burgers such a punch of flavor. Simple does not mean boring! This is an easy meal to prepare and goes great with some fries or chips and a nice cold beverage.
When I decided to share this recipe with you I did a little research on this punchy spice blend. I love to learn about food and the history of where certain cooking methods come from.(if you couldn’t care less, just skip down to the recipe but I think it’s interesting)
So, Jerk is a method of cooking and seasoning meat that can be traced to the Arawak Indigenous tribe that was living in Jamaica in the late 1400s. They used a special technique to smoke and dry meat in the sun or over a low fire. (We still do this today to make jerky.) In the 1700s, a group of enslaved people called the Maroons hid in the mountains to escape from the British, who were then in control of Jamaica at the time. The Maroons used salt, pepper, and spices like allspice and scotch bonnet peppers to preserve meat. It was spiced, wrapped in leaves and then cooked over a lattice fire. This is the origin of the famous of Jamaican jerk seasoning that we use today. I read that if you visit Jamaica you may see Jerk Huts along the beach where vendors will make jerk meats in the traditional way. Pretty cool huh?
Jerk Chicken Burgers
Recipe Adapted from Mark Bittman VB6
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 4 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 pound napa, savoy, or green cabbage quartered and thinly sliced
- 1 large red or yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 carrot, grated
- 1/2 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
- 2 tablespoons jerk seasoning (plus an optional 1 teaspoon)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Put olive oil in a large bowl with the lime juice, 2 teaspoons garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the pepper. (This is also where you would add in the optional 1 teaspoon of jerk seasoning, we like things spicy so maybe leave it out the first time?) Whisk together until well combined. Add the cabbage, bell pepper, and onion. Toss until the veggies are well coated in the dressing. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes or up to several hours.
- Prepare a grill or a flat top cooking area.
- Combine the chicken, carrot, and corn with the jerk seasoning, the remaining garlic and salt. Don’t over mix! You’ll want to handle the mix as little as possible. Shape the meat into 4 large or 8 small patties. ( You can make these several hours ahead of cooking. Make sure you cover tightly and refrigerate; bring to room temperature before cooking.
- Put the burger on your hot cooking surface. Cook undisturbed until they are easily released for flipping, about 5-7 minutes. Turn and cook the other side the same way. Check for doneness by taking a peek with a sharp knife. When the burgers are ready they will no longer be pink and the juices will run clear.
- Stir the cilantro into the slaw, taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Serve the burgers with slaw on top.
Tips: I like my buns toasty so I’ll throw those on the grill for a minute, or under the broiler if I’m cooking inside. A nice addition for a sauce is a Caribbean marinade or hot sauce that you can find at most grocery stores. It doesn’t need the sauce but it’s a nice addition.
I hope you enjoy this casual Sunday Supper idea. Please share what you’re cooking up this summer! I’m always looking for ideas.