Monday, May 14, 2012

Jerk Chicken Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce

It's no secret that I love pasta and I love Jerk Chicken, so I obviously love Jerk Chicken Pasta!! I had an old friend from high school come stay with us this weekend and so I decided to make some Jerk Chicken as he used to join my family with us on our summer trip to our place in Jamaica. We've both lost our parents since those happier times, so I thought it would be a nice tribute to fire up the Big Green Egg and make a traditional Jamaican dinner for him.

Tonight it's Monday and we still had a bunch of chicken left over, so I was craving my brother in law's famous roasted red bell pepper soup and thought it could make a nice base for a sauce. My brother in law is currently a fantastic chef for Eddie V's and I first tasted his bell pepper soup when he was a sous chef at the very early "foodie" restaurant The Green Room in Deep Ellum back in the mid 90's. Those were the days! Galavanting around from Club Clearview, to Trees to Video Bar for "Sadistic Sundays". I miss my youth. Sadly as those of us from Gen X grew up, the Deep Ellum of the 90's went into a demise and most of these great places were shuttered in 2006.  Anyway on a lighter note, my brother in law kindly shared the recipe with me for his soup and it's become a household staple as it freezes well and can be used to make a rich and satisfying sauce as well. I've tweaked it a bit, but it's pretty similar to his, just not as much heavy cream.

While roasting the peppers over the grill or in the oven until charred is the best way, my brother in law says using fire roasted jarred red bell peppers works nicely if you don't want to sepnd too much time on it. Just be sure to drain and rinse thoroughly several times.

4 12. oz jars of roasted red bell peppers (I like Mt. Olive or Mezzetta brands)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 sweet onion, minced
1 tsp brown sugar
3 tbs butter plus 1 more reserved for later
1 tbs olive oil
1 cup sweet white wine such as Italian Sweet Bianco
3 cups low sodium or homemade chicken stock, plus 1 tsp of boullion
a few dashes paprika,  1 dash cayenne pepper
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream or half & half

In a Dutch oven or large pot set over medium low heat,  add butter and olive oil and melt, add onions and stir until they start to sweat- about 5 minutes. 
Add the garlic and sugar and stir 4 more minutes.
Add wine and turn the heat up a bit to simmer and burn off the alcohol.
Add peppers, stock and spices
Simmer covered about 45 minutes to one hour.

Get another large pot and set aside. Working in small batches, blend the soup till smooth. (Be sure not to fill the blender more than half way, cover the lid with a towel in case of hot liquid spills).
Now this is the key... you have to strain the soup through a fine mesh sieve (Chinoise) or cheese cloth in order for the soup to be silky smooth. Trust me, it makes it so creamy and velvety. Ladle the soup through the strainer in to the reserved pot until everything has been blended.
Return the new pot to the stove and gently reheat the soup after adding in the cream. This can be eaten right away and tastes great with grilled gruyere and fontina paninis with pesto. SO GOOD!!

However, tonight we made a pasta dish, so we ladled a few cups of the soup in a non stick pan with shredded jerk chicken (a rotisserie from the grocery store works well also). 
 Homemade pasta...yum!

I let that heat gently over low while I threw some homemade pasta in heavily salted boiling water for about a minute (It should be salty like the sea). I then plucked the pasta from the water with tongs and added it to the sauce and chicken with a few tablespoons of the pasta water and 1 tbs of the butter and stirred it all together for a few minutes until the noodles absorbed the sauce, plated it and devoured. Now I need to jump on the elliptical for about 60 minutes.

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