Since the death of my tiny TV (the one that actually did something other than serve as a monitor for my DVDs, even if it only picked up one channel), I’ve been a little out of the loop weather-wise, so I’m not quite sure how the rest of the country is faring right now. Here in sunny California, however, it’s been… well, sunny! Sunny and warm and beautiful and everything California ought to be. And when things are this lovely, I can’t help wanting to celebrate with something equally lovely & delicious.
This was one of those accidental dinners that happened the other night, and I must say this one’s probably going to be in regular rotation this summer (depending on avocado prices, of course). As always, it started because yours truly had a craving and would not rest until that craving was satisfied. I’m currently obsessed with Caribbean spices and flavors, so I’ve been playing around with jerk chicken lately, trying spice mixes others have created, or making my own to suit my personal tastes.
I finally nailed down a jerk spice concoction that I’m pretty pleased with (meaning it tastes good and doesn’t cost a fortune to put together), so I had some chicken thighs taking a spa day in a bowl of some, just waiting to be thrown into some random recipe. My original intent was to have a burrito or some tacos with the chicken and a fruit salsa or something. Then I decided I’d already eaten enough carbs for one day, so I switched to a salad idea, which quickly turned into, “Hmmm, maybe I’ll just do lettuce wraps instead.”
Until I remembered the avocados.
I was in Davis for a work meeting recently, and since we’d arrived early and our meeting was in the same area as one of their Nugget markets, I decided to kill some time by wandering through the store. I chose a good day to do so, because they had avocados on sale for a ridiculous $0.88/each (!!!), and a few of those little guys ended up coming home with me. I dug into a couple over Cinco de Mayo, but I’d kinda forgotten about the rest until one fell out of Big Bowl and StuKitty started chasing after it (kids these days…). It was clearly a sign that these A) needed to be used immediately, and B) needed to be stuffed with jerk chicken. And some other tasty stuff.
Now, this recipe can be kind of tricky price-wise if you’re not careful, so I highly suggest taking advantages of summer sales on things like avocados and mangoes to keep costs low. Even still, it’s on the PGEW Splurges side of the price spectrum, so make sure to pay attention to those price tags at the store. I know not every store has crazy $0.88/each deals, but many will have great sale prices on avocados from time to time, especially in the summer. Same thing goes for the mangoes, so if you can find some 10 for $10 deals, stock up on those. Bonus Savings Tip: for the lowest prices and (most of the time) best quality on things like avocados and mangoes, head to your nearest Latin/Hispanic food market; you won’t be sorry!
Lastly, if you don’t want to go through the trouble of cooking chicken specifically for this recipe, by all means, don’t! You can make this with regular leftover chicken and it’ll still taste fine. But if you do have the time, try it with the jerk-spiced chicken – it definitely takes it to a whole new level. Not a meat-eater? Substitute seitan for that meaty quality, or just throw some quinoa into the mix with the mangoes & peppers, and you’re good to go.
This is a lovely summertime meal that can be thrown together in minutes, and goes perfectly with a nice salad and perhaps a glass of Riesling. Yeah…. summer’s definitely around the corner if I’m already starting to imagine white wine pairings with my food! So, enough of my daydreaming; let’s check out the recipe!
Caribbean Jerk Chicken & Mango Stuffed Avocados (makes 2 servings; total cost per serving: $3.75)
1/3 c cider vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 T dark brown sugar
1 T low-sodium soy sauce
1 t dried thyme
1 t ground allspice
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground nutmeg
1 t ground ginger
2 t sea salt
1 t cayenne pepper
1 t black pepper
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1-2 t cooking oil
3/4 c chopped mango (fresh is preferable, but frozen is just fine)
1/2 c chopped red bell pepper
2 T lime juice
1 t honey
Salt & pepper
2 large avocados
Lime slices (optional for garnish)
1. Whisk together the first 12 ingredients until completely smooth. Place the chicken thighs in a separate bowl and pour enough jerk seasoning to cover it completely (this way if you have leftover seasoning, you can still use it for a different dish or as a sauce). Marinate for at least an hour, preferably overnight.
2. When ready to cook, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the chicken and cook for about 7 minutes, until cooked through and no longer pink inside. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
3. In the meantime, combine the chopped mango and peppers in a medium bowl. Whisk together the lime juice, honey and salt & pepper in a separate bowl, then pour over the mangoes & peppers. Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces, add to the mango-pepper mixture, and toss together until combined.
4. Slice each avocado in half and remove the pit. Squeeze a few drops of extra lime juice on each avocado half to prevent discoloration. Spoon generous amounts of the chicken & mango mixture into each avocado (it’s okay if they overflow a bit past the hole left by the pit) and garnish with a slice of lime. Serve with a nice salad and enjoy!