Sour Jerks and the Women Who Love Them.

24 May

Dear Bec & Nina,

I’m writing this from my stuffy Chicago apartment just a day away from departing for your love ratification festival of joy (aka wedding). This meal is a lil’ mixture of your old Caribbean hood in Brooklyn and the Eastern European vinegariness of Chicago. Hope you all enjoy it. I’ll do a repeat of whatever you would like to sample when I see you on Friday! 

Love you, Margie

The slow arrival of summer in Chicago is always a relief. Not because of the end of the bitter winds, drifting snow, and constant gray sludge attached to the bottom of my jeans, but because I can finally accept that my neighbors were not eaten my zombies. Snowmagedden, what we fondly call the blizzard of 2011, made my back deck a wasteland of snowdrifts and rotting lawn furniture. After a few months of teasingly warm temps and nights in the 40s, we’ve reached a plateau and I’m finally beginning to see life in the neighborhood again. Back doors have slammed open and my neighbors have appeared again, alive, and ready to grill.

Cooks should ensure that there’s room in the fridge for a couple of loiterers as these babies will need 24 hours chillin for maximum flavor.  

People of all genders can love the Jerk.

Jerk chicken is one of the easiest, most flavorful dishes to grill. Some folks turn to spice rubs and bottles o’ jerk but the results are just not the same! 


The real thing.

The list of ingredients can be intimidating but most cooks should have these items in their pantry.

Jerk Chicken

  • 1 tbl ground allspice
  • 1 tbl ground thyme
  • ½ tbl whole cloves
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 ½  tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp minced or ground ginger or ginger paste
  • at least 6 cloves fresh garlic crushed and diced
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • ¼ cup low sodium Soy sauce
  • ¼ cup veggie oil
  • ¾ cup white vinegar
  • ½ cup orange juice (fresh is best)
  • Juice of 1 lime (or if you have only teeny tiny limes intended to squeeze into a Modelo, use three).
  • 2 serrano peppers – I removed about half the seeds and diced em up. Scotch bonnet are the traditional pepper here, but my bodega didn’t have it so Serrano or habanero will have to do.
  • 1 C. white onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. liquid smoke – a hickory flavoring (optional)
  • 2 ½ lbs chicken legs/thighs or breasts

Dump all of these ingredients (sans chicken) into a blender or food processer and pulse until smooth. Add more garlic to taste. Add a dash of liquid smoke if you’d like a hickory aftertaste. Place chicken parts in a large ziplock bag or in a roasting dish. Pour marinade over. Refrigerate the chicken pieces for 5-24 hours then either grill over hot coals for 10 minutes on each side or broil on each side for 7 minutes until the outside is crispy and the inside is no longer pink.  

How funky is your chicken?

Now for the Eastern Euro Influence

Ukranian Carrot Salad

I became obsessed with this salad after a friend made me try it a few months ago. It’s only sold in tiny delis in the Ukrainian Village; I felt like I found my true roots after my first taste. It’s a fabulous amalgamation of tangy, spicy, sweet and is a refreshing summer salad that goes really well with the aforementioned jerk.

I can smell the corriander from here.

  • 7 medium carrots (little under 1lb) sliced super thin or julienned.
  • at least 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 small white or yellow onion minced
  • 2 tbl cracked coriander seed
  • 4 tbl veggie oil (do not use olive oil – the flavor will be too strong)
  • 3 tbls white vinegar
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 ½ tsp sugar

Peel, wash and slice (or julienne) carrots so they are flimsy but not shredded. Think coleslaw. A julienne slicer, if you have one, is the best option for this stage. I do not have the proper equipment for this stage so it takes me about a year to slice the carrots to the right girth. Place in a medium bowl and set aside. Sauté onions until they are soft and translucent. Set aside.

Crack coriander if you have it whole. This is my favorite part of the process since coriander has a wonderful way of wafting. Add onions, coriander, garlic, vinegar, cayenne pepper, sugar, and veggie oil. Mix with your hands. Don’t cheat and use a spoon! Get dirty! Unless you have cuts on your hands. Then use tongs.

You will be tempted to snack on this salad right away but it’s best consumed after 4-5 hours when the flavors have permeated the carrots. You’ll know it’s ready when the veggies are slightly wilted and coriander wafts from the bowl. 

While you are waiting for this jazz to marinate you can try this tasty, albeit very odd, cocktail that I doctored up in a tipsy moment of genius. I discovered a jar of pickled turnips in the neighborhood grocery store and was immediately won over by their electric pink hue. While snacking on them with my downstairs neighbors and sipping on rum, I decided to experiment (muahaha) and came up with a drink I like to call the …

The Bay of Pigs

This cocktail is best served in a traditional rooster cocktail glass.

1 ½ oz rum (white or dark, whatever you’ve got)

Juice of half a lime (or to taste)

A dash of pickled turnip juice

Pickled turnip for garnish

The sweetness of the rum, tartness of the lime, and vinegar aftertaste of the turnip somehow forms a deliciously tangy cocktail. And it’s just so darn cute.

Margie is a Chicago native, social work grad student, history buff and all around good company.  This is Margie’s first guest post for PvPF. 


2 Responses to “Sour Jerks and the Women Who Love Them.”

  1. Emma May 24, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    Thank you for your guest post, Margie! I love your writing!! It really take my mind away to a silly place with delicious food and drink.

  2. margie May 31, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    Thanks, Emma! I live in that place permanently and while it’s not the best thing for my career, it sure is a lotta fun.

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