Now the third dish that I served for the Wine and Spice Tasting at the Atelier des Vignerons took several tasters by surprise, it was, if I am honest, a little explosive!! So you have been warned if you don’t like the heat reduce the allspice and chilli, if you do, follow the recipe as it is! It is very much a matter of taste as both my husband (English) and the workawayer that was helping me, (Audrey from the USA), loved it and the kick!
I based my recipe on the Food and Wine magazine Jamaican Jerk Chicken recipe, however one of the key changes that I made was the protein, hence the name! Instead of using chicken I went for turkey, firstly because I am lucky enough to live near a really good supplier of both regional and high quality products all produced within the Aude, the Comptoir des Producteurs in Lezignan. They have a great local farm that breeds turkey (unusual for France) and at a good price, which meant even with a small budget I could stick to my high standards of quality produce rather than being forced to buy cheap, battery farmed chicken due to budget constraints. This change of meat was actually no bad thing as turkey is a darker meat and worked better than the chicken did, as the richer meat stood up to the bold flavours. I also needed the meat to be off the bone for ease and mess purposes at a stand-up tasting, but at home you could use high welfare chicken thighs which would work equally well, just provide finger bowls!!
35 x 2 piece skewers
- 1.250kg of boneless turkey ( I bought a rolled turkey roast, see above to replace with chicken thighs if you prefer)
- 1 large roughly chopped onion
- 4 large spring onions, roughly chopped, including green parts
- 2 habenero chillies – mmm maybe just go for the one they were very hot!!
- 4 large garlic cloves
- 1 heaped tablespoon of Chinese 5 spice powder
- 1.5 tablespoons of Jamaican Allspice berries roughly ground in a pestle and mortar (you have been warned!)
- 1 heaped tablespoon of coarsely ground black peppercorns
- 3 tsp dried thyme
- 2 tsp of sea salt
- 200ml soy sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Squeeze of fresh lime
If you are making skewers chop your turkey into bite size pieces, roughly 2cm long. If you are using a whole chicken, spatchcock it, thighs can be left as they are. Put the meat aside. In a food processor add all the ingredients except the turkey, soy sauce and olive oil. Process until a coarse paste is formed. Whilst running the food processor on slow add the soy sauce and oil in a slow and steady stream until the marinade is throughly combined. Transfer the meat and the marinade to a Tupperware with a lid and ensure that the meat is completely coated in the marinade. Pop the lid on and leave the flavours to evolve overnight, (this can be made two days in advance if using very fresh meat).
Remove from the fridge and bring to room temperature before cooking. Because I was doing such a large quantity of small skewers I cooked mine on a hot plancha inside, it created a lot of smoke so best to open all windows and doors! If you are using larger pieces of meat or bigger skewers, cook on a wood fired barbecue to get an authentic charred flavour. The small pieces of turkey only took 3 – 4 minutes on a very hot griddle, good quality meat does not need to be overcooked and remember the meat will continue to cook in its own heat when removed from the pan.
To serve at the tasting I waited for the meat to cool and then thread two pieces onto a cocktail skewer. If you were going to cook these on a barbecue using wooden skewers remember to soak them in water first so that they don’t catch fire! I then served them warm with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
I found I had roughly 4 tbsp of the marinade left over so I used it to marinade a whole chicken which I spatchcocked and cooked on the barbecue that weekend. Delicious!
Now the Jamaicans would most likely enjoy a Red Stripe beer or a rum cocktail with this but I am a wine lecturer and the point of the evening was to match spicy food with different Languedoc-Roussillon wines, so no rum punch for me! It is a challenge to find the perfect match for such bold flavours and fiery heat. Firstly what doesn’t work; red wines were not going to be my jerks friend here the tannins would be too astringent with such heat and oak would turn bitter in the face of such spice. A full flavoured rosé wine with some residual sugar could have worked but it was early March and it was raining and cold, so not really rosé weather! So white it was and this time I turned to a classic white variety for pairing with spicy food, however one that I usually don’t rave about as it tends to lack the acidity required, Gewürztraminer! This one heralds from the Limoux hills in the village of Cépie, the Domaine Bégude Secret de Sud. This organic English owned domaine, (opposite Rives-Blanques, the domaine that produced the Chenin blanc which I partnered with the fishcakes), was the first to produce a Gewürztraminer in the region. Thanks to the high altitude and cool nights it retains a vibrant freshness. With plenty of perfumed spice and floral character on the nose and a slight off-dry character to calm the heat. Due to its pungency I find that this is a variety that always divides opinion, and this tasting was no exception!
Photos courtesy of photo O. Bac – l’Atelier des Vignerons