Make Your Own Caribbean Experience

August 23, 2016

 

 

My husband and I are members of a gourmet group. Ya, I know—sounds fussy and like a lot of pressure! When our foodie friends asked us to join, my first reaction was, "Are you kidding me? I can barely get my dishwasher unloaded with my hyperactive, combative toddlers running me ragged." Cooking something with more than four ingredients was next to impossible. The thought of adding that fifth ingredient to my shopping list was enough to throw me over the edge! I knew I could not keep up with their painstaking, chef-like talents!

 

Lucky for us, years later, our besties gave us a second chance. My seasoned gourmet buddies assured me their  expectations had been lowered substantially— no more preprinted, formal menus and preassigned, impossible-to-find ingredient lists! We accepted their invitation and made it clear that outdoor grilling and casual dinnerware kept us in our happy place. Now we host a super fun summer (kind-of-gourmet) barbecue!

 

This year we decided to host a Caribbean themed dinner. We perused through recipes on the internet and were having a hard time coming up with a meal plan. My husband likes really hot and saucy and I'm more of a mild, minimal sauce type girl!  He's the real foodie in our family when he puts his mind to it. He doesn't cut any corners when it comes to menu planning either, so he wanted to go test out some real caribbean cooking!

 

Living in Minnesota, Caribbean restaurants aren't too abundant, but guess what— we found one: Montague's Kitchen & Bar! This Casual, family friendly restaurant was created by Ken Montague, a native to Jamaica. It sits in the tiny town of Loretto, MN, population 666, who knew?

 

We ordered Jerk Chicken and Coconut Shrimp, accompanied by plantains, rice and beans. Amazing— a delicious authentic caribbean experience nestled in small town Minnesota!

 

It was then we decided to search for the perfect Coconut Shrimp and Jerk Chicken recipes along with a basic Mango Salsa.

 

 

 

 

 

We wanted flavor, but nothing too overwhelming and the recipes below are what we ended up with—delicious, super simple prep, a hint of Caribbean flavor and healthy, healthy, healthy! 

 

I started the fun by serving a Caribbean Cosmo, made with Blue Curaçao liqueur. My guests made awesome contributions: Scallop Ceviche appetizer, Caribbean Cabbage, and a rice and bean dish.  Sadly we gave up on the plantains. Our experience testing those out was disastrous, but as it turned out, we really didn't need them! 

 

Bon appetite!

 

Coconut Shrimp

 

Serves 3-4

 

Ingredients:

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/4th cup canned coconut milk

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder 

1/4th teaspoon cayenne pepper

 

Instructions:

  • Soak skewers for at least 20 minutes in water

  • Heat grill to medium high heat

  • Mix garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, salt, cayenne pepper, coconut milk and bouillon powder

  • Thread the shrimp onto the skewers—about 3 per skewer

  • Grill for about 2-3 minutes per side until fully cooked through

(modified from africanbites.com)

 

Jerk Chicken

 

Marinate thighs and legs in jerk chicken sauce for 6 hours and grill! We used Busha Brown Spicy Jerk Sauce. The chicken turned out to have a much milder spice than you might expect, so most will love it and it is super tender!

 

Serve with Mango Salsa, Caribbean Cabbage and a rice and bean dish, and you will have a true Caribbean meal!

 

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