Caribbean cuisine! Feed your family (and maybe a guest or two) for under $20!

One of my favorite restaurants is Cha Cha Cha located in Silverlake, California. The food is a divine mix of Caribbean and South American cuisine. The jerk pork is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!! My mouth waters as I type this...cuz there's no telling when I'll get to go back. It's on the other sie of town and I've YET to drag my husband there.

I've been itching for plantains, but I had to come up with a meal to wrap around it. I decided on jerk chicken and coconut rice (over red beans and rice - which was a definite runner-up).

5.75lbs of chicken legs @ $6.54 (exactly 20 pieces of chicken)
1 bottle of Italian salad dressing @ $1.54 (you'd be amazed at what you can marinate with this stuff)
1 box of light brown sugar @ $1.58
1 jar of Thyme @ $2.88
7 plantains @ $1.78 (I found these puppies at one of the local Hispanic markets)
1 can of coconut milk @ $.50
1 - 2lb bag of calrose rice @ $1.65
1 jar of crushed red pepper @ $1.98
1 jar of cinnamon sugar @ $1.48

Add that's $19.93! Two key ingredients that weren't on my shopping list are GROUND ALL-SPICE (I generally keep it on hand, but it costs no more than $2.00) and SOY SAUCE (and even though I rarely use it, one simply can't be HALF Chinese and NOT have this in the house!).

With 20 pieces of chicken and nearly 7 cups or more of coconut can feed quite a few people...or have a gang of left overs. I chose to use chicken legs because it's more cost effective. Maybe next time I'll use an inexpensive cut of pork roast and make shredded jerk pork!

Jerk Chicken Marinade:

1/4 cup Italian dressing (I use this because it contains the various spices and oil required to give it the right flavor)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon thyme
1 teaspoon all-spice
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Mix all of these ingredients in a bowl and pour into a large ziplock freezer bag. Put all of your chicken into the bag and toss the chicken until well coated. I let my chicken marinate for about 6 hours, but you can do it longer if you'd like the flavor to really stick! Stick it in the refrigerator until you're ready to cook it. (I only mentioned this part because sometimes good sense ain't so common if you catch my drift!)

Traditionally you would grill the meat, but for the purpose of this little exercise, we'll bake it! Place chicken in a 2 - 13x9 baking dishes and bake uncovered for about 50 minutes at 350 degrees. When it's done, cover loosely with foil and let it sit for about 15 minutes.



Coconut Rice:

3 cups of uncooked Calrose rice washed and drained
3 cups of water
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon of kosher salt

After washing the rice, pour in water, coconut milk and salt. Bring to a rolling boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 18 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Fried Plantains:

4-5 medium plantains
1/4 cup butter
cinnamon sugar

In a medium skillet, melt butter and saute plantains for about 4-5 minutes on each side until they're nicely browned. Drain on a paper towel and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Dinner is served!

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