The first time I tasted jerk chicken with rice and beans I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I loved the spices, the heat and the coconut. I knew I had to learn how to make it, but of course, my own healthy twist.
I don’t mind a little bit of brown rice every now and then, but I’m always conscious that when I eat rice I’m just adding bulk and extra calories to the meal. There’s not a whole lot of added nutritional value. That’s where the cauliflower comes in.
Substituting cauliflower for white rice is a great way to up the vegetable content of the meal, while also cutting calories a bit. One cup of plain cooked cauliflower has roughly 28 calories. Compare that to one cup of cooked white rice, the basis of traditional rice and beans, which has about 204 calories. That means you can have about 8 cups of cauliflower for every one cup of rice.
If you’re starving from tough training but looking to control your diet, this is the way to go. So, let me share my take on the traditional Caribbean dish. Here is my super-nutritious recipe for jerk chicken with coconut cauliflower ‘rice’ and braised greens with bacon.
Coconut cauliflower rice
This is a really simple dish that only takes 12 minutes to make.
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
- 1 can of unsweetened coconut milk (no sulphites)
- 2 sprigs of fresh chopped thyme (or a teaspoon of dried thyme)
- a handful of shredded coconut (optional)
Wash the Cauliflower and then shred it in a blender on pulse until it looks like rice. If you don’t have a blender, you can grate it with a standard grater. If you do this, grate it in a baking tin to catch the cauliflower as it makes a mess. It’s worth it.
Heat the oil in a pan. Add the cauliflower, garlic and coconut (if you’re using it) and stir to coat in the oil. Add the coconut milk, bring almost to a boil and then cover and simmer for about 6 to 7 minutes. Add the thyme and season with salt. Voila!
Braised greens and bacon
- I use 6 cups of chopped greens for 4 portions
- 1 teaspoon of butter
- 4 slices of good quality bacon
- ¼ teaspoon of chili flakes or a chopped hot pepper if you can get it. (I used Scotch bonnet).
- Salt to season (although I find the bacon adds enough salt)
Fry the bacon and remove from the pan leaving the fat. Add the greens and the pepper to the fat and sauté. Add the butter and the chopped pre cooked bacon. Remove from the heat and cover the pan. Allow this to sit for about 10 minutes for the flavours to develop.
The best jerk chicken is marinated in the seasoning for at least 24 hours before cooking. My version is a little quicker than that.
This will coat one whole 4lb to 5lb chicken or 4 to 5 chicken breasts. You can also use pork!
- 4 large cloves of garlic, chopped
- 3 Scotch bonnet peppers or a teaspoon of chili flakes (for a hot jerk)
- 1 tablespoon of thyme (fresh preferably)
- 2 tablespoons of all spice (cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg and cloves)
- a thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, grated (or a teaspoon of dried)
- 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons of vinegar (I use apple cider)
- 2 tablespoons of orange juice
- 3 tablespoons of soy sauce or coconut aminos
- 3 tablespoons of oil (I use coconut)
- 2 tablespoons of honey or other sweetener (optional)
- 6 Scallions or a small onion
- 1 teaspoon of salt
Add everything to a blender and blitz. Coat the chicken and either roast the chicken in the oven or cook on the grill. In the picture, I coated a whole chicken and then roasted it in the oven at 450 degrees for an hour, but it’s just as good on the grill.
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