One Memorial weekend, not too long ago, I met up with a couple of my besties to check out the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s annual Dance Africa Bazaar. It’s a three-day long festival filled with cultural shows, live performances and the much anticipated street fair that ends the festival. Believe me when I tell you, EVERYONE goes for the entertainment, crafts, culture, togetherness, and (most importantly) the food.
This year, as I stood in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, sucking down a quart container of too sweet ‘frutti tutti’ lemonade, I couldn’t help but notice the long lines of patrons patiently waiting to purchase jerked chicken. At every Caribbean booth that sold food, the lines were just as long as the smokestacks coming from the smokers used to cook the sought after, spiced bird. Watching this scene unfold only reminded me that I was due to make some of my very own jerk sauce.
I started making jerk sauce two years ago when I hosted my very first public dinner, where I made a jerked chicken pizza as an appetizer. The crowd went wild to see something as common as jerked chicken take on a different form. I like for the flavour of the jerk sauce to be the focal point and not masked by melty, stringy or sharp cheeses. Dollops of creamy goat cheese were sprinkled all over the pizza to cool down the heat from the scotch bonnet peppers that was used in the smoky, spicy sauce.
Crispy, fried shallots were added for texture and baby arugula dressed with a bit of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and black pepper for colour.
You can too can enjoy this pizza, using your favourite store-bought jerk sauce. I suggest that you taste the sauce before smearing it all over your raw dough or flatbread. If you’re a wimp like me when it comes to really spicy food, you can add a little brown sugar to your sauce. Toss cubed, broiled or leftover store-bought rotisserie chicken in the jerk sauce as well, so everything is flavoured nicely. Bake in a 400 degree F oven until your dough is cooked and the edges are crispy. Top with goat cheese, fried shallots and arugula.
In the picture above, I paired it with my favorite wine – Sauvignon Blanc, but you and your friends can have it with virtually any drink. Enjoy!
Words & Image by Chef LAM