For a new taste treat, try this fusion of Tex-Mex cooking and traditional Jamaican cuisine. Jerk is, above all, a style of cooking believed to have been developed by the Maroons of Jamaica, enslaved African people who escaped colonial plantations to form their own independent communities in the wilder parts of the island in the 17th century. Adapting to their environment and making use of natural food sources and cooking meat over smoking wood fires, others believe jerk originated with the native Arawak and Taino people in Jamaica. A key part of jerk foods is the spicy sauce that goes with the cooked meat. Today, jerk seasoning is used with chicken, pork, seafood, or vegetables.
The fajita is a Tex-Mex, or Tejano, dish made from any grilled meat traditionally served on a flour or corn tortilla. Originally, fajitas were made of little strips of skirt steak, a cut of less-than-prime meat often given to ranch hands in payment for their services, along with other throwaway portions like the head, hide entrails, and meat trimmings. The word “faja” is Spanish for “strip” or “belt.” The dish can be traced to the 1930s along the Texas-Mexico border where the vaqueros would cook the meet during cattle round-ups directly on a campfire or a grill. As there is only a limited amount of faja meat per cow, it was not available commercially, and the dish remained a regional delicacy. Modern fajitas are made with various fillings and ingredients, including different kinds of peppers, onions, chilies, and jalapenos in addition to beef, chicken, or pork, with additions such as shredded lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, pico de gallo, shredded cheese, refried beans, and diced tomatoes.
This fusion of island and Tejano flavors is not to be missed.
Jerk Chicken Fajitas
- 1 medium Red Bell Pepper
- 1 medium Green Bell Pepper
- 1 medium Onion
- 5 medium Serrano Peppers
- 3 tablespoons Butter
- 6 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- 1 ½ teaspoon Jamaican jerk rub
- 3 tablespoons Jamaican Jerk seasoning
- 3 medium boneless and skinless Chicken Breasts
- 3 teaspoons Kosher Salt
- Vegetable Oil for frying
LIME SOUR CREAM TOPPING
- 16 ounces Sour Cream
- 1 medium Lime, zest, and juice
- 1 medium Jalapeno Chile Pepper, seeded and minced, optional
- 1 head Lettuce, shredded
- Combine all ingredients, stirring well. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Shred lettuce and set aside in refrigerator.
- Place pan with oil and butter over medium-high heat.
- Slice the red and green bell peppers into strips. Slice the serranos into rings. Chop the onions. Add all the prepared vegetables to pan with 1 1/2 teaspoon of jerk seasoning.
- As vegetables cook, mix 3 tablespoons of jerk seasoning with 3 teaspoons of kosher salt in a bowl to make a rub.
- Slice each chicken breast in half. Place one on top of the other and cut on an angle into strips 3/8 inches wide. Place chicken in a bowl with the rub and mix well.
- When the vegetables start to soften), remove from heat and place in a bowl.
- Turn the heat up to high, add some oil to the pan and then add the chicken.
- When chicken is well browned – it cooks quickly – cover and cook about 5 more minutes.
- The prepared chicken can be served as a sandwich on a roll with some chopped lettuce and a dollop of the lime sour cream.
- It can also be served as a wrap: heat tortillas on a sheet pan and warm in a 200-degree oven for about 5 minutes. After warming, put some meat mixture on the tortilla, add some lettuce ad some lime sour cream. Roll tortilla around the meat mixture.