Whenever citrus meets protein in my mouth, they skip merrily along and have a great time together. That’s why I chose to bring those flavors together in this dish. When I was younger, going out to eat was a bit of a rarity for my family and me. The times we did go out to eat had been narrowed down to a few places: Old Country Buffet, McDonalds or Denny’s. I was a very picky child, and it wasn’t until my early college years I began to explore what my taste buds really had to offer. I was taking turns living both in San Diego and Chicago. I was very lucky, and my timing couldn’t have been more perfect. My taste buds wanted to come out and play, and I was in the right place to join them.
Chicago has some of the greatest restaurants in the entire country. Sadly, I haven’t been to very many because like I said, I didn’t begin exploring until college hit. I only had about a year left in Chicago to see what the city had to offer my stomach. Although Chicago seems to be known for their deep dish pizza and ketchup-less hot dogs, these items do not even cross my mind anymore when I think back to the food I had enjoyed there. Let me take you on a short journey, to the time where I enjoyed one of my first encounters with citrus and protein: Kuma’s Corner. I had such a great time there, I managed to write a review on Yelp about it. This is impressive because I don’t have a great track record when it comes to restaurant reviews. I have only written two. Back to Kuma’s! Here is what I had to say after licking my plate clean:
“So, I checked out Kuma’s corner for the first time 3-4 months ago. I think I’ve been back over 15+ times since my first. I always go with a good friend of mine who has tried every single burger on the menu. I’m constantly getting either the Lair of Minotaur, the Motorhead or Judas Priest burger.
Bourbon soaked pears? Pineapples on the meat?! You can’t go wrong.
They know how to cook their burgers… medium-rare mmm! I love their waffles fries, as well.
I’m not even a heavy metal fan, BUT that music really motivates me to finish my burger. Every time.”
I was so surprised they had put pineapples on the beef. It wasn’t until I arrived in San Diego, though, I realized my true potential for a long-lasting and meaningful relationship with food. I began visiting Indian, Ethiopian, and Jamaican restaurants and sometimes food trucks (if I got lucky!) Oh, did Laylah’s Patties & Jerk leave a lasting impression on me. I came back to that spot time and time again for their Jerk Chicken Tacos. The seasoning they had created, mixed with the sauce, and the pineapple- it was a huge hit in my mouth.
Jerk Chicken and Cauliflower Rice Bowls
It is a combination of these two experiences that has brought me to where I am today, on my couch. I look to my left, and I still see the remains of the jerky mess I have made all over the counter tops, stove and floors. Was it worth it? Definitely. Thank you Laylah’s and Kuma’s both for coming to me in my day dreams today. I was reminded of all of the wonderful flavors and experiences I had at both of these restaurants, and in turn, was inspired to create some jerk chicken bowls of my own. Of course, I want to keep things interesting for you all. That is where the cauliflower rice and fried plantains come in. I’m sure you could make these bowls with white rice, brown rice, couscous, quinoa, etc. and they would turn out just as delicious. I love cauliflower rice because it is a vegetable, and I can easily rationalize eating more of it DUH! Really though, if you do not have any problems with grains, go for it! Oh, and don’t be shy with that pineapple. It’ll supply you and your mouth with a great time, remember?
Jerk Chicken and Cauliflower Rice Bowls
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
- 2 ripe plantains sliced into rounds
- coconut oil to coat the pan several times
- 1 pound chicken breast cut into bite-size chunks
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon homemade ketchup
- 1 tablespoon black strap molasses
- 4 cloves of minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger grated
- 1 cup crimini mushrooms chopped
- 3/4 cup fresh pineapple diced
- 2 red bell peppers diced
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup Bragg's liquid aminos
- 1 lime juiced
- **fresh cilantro and green onions for garnish
|Cook Time||20 minutes|
|Prep Time||15 minutes|
- First, prepare the cauliflower rice. Wash a head of cauliflower in warm water and pat dry. Make sure you cut off any brown or yellow spots with a paring knife before you begin.
- Slice off the bottom of the cauliflower, and chop the rest into even-sized chunks. Throw the cauliflower into your food processor and pulse until the contents are reduced to the size of rice granules. *This will most likely take you a few rounds. One head of cauliflower took me 4-5 separate pulsing sessions in the food processor*
- Empty the contents all into a large bowl and set to the side.
- Combine the cubed chicken breast, curry powder, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, molasses and ketchup in a bowl. Make sure the chicken is coated well and set aside.
- In a large skillet or wok, melt enough coconut oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Make sure the heat is on medium, and add in the plantain slices. Cook for a few minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove the plantains from the pan and let them relax on a paper towel lined plate.
- Add about a tablespoon of coconut oil to the pan again, and throw in the red bell peppers, pineapple and mushrooms. Cook these ingredients until the pineapple begins to caramelize. Now, add in the fresh ginger and garlic and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl.
- Now, cook the chicken. Make sure you continuously add coconut oil to the pan if it is not coated. Stir fry the chicken for a few minutes on each side until it is looking crispy and cooked through. Add the cooked chicken to the vegetable mixture.
- Quickly cook the two eggs in the pan. Roughly scramble them, and add them to the vegetable and chicken bowl as well.
- Use another pan or wash the one you have been using to cook the cauliflower rice. Add the cauliflower to the pan with about a tablespoon of coconut oil or Ghee. Cook it for a few minutes, and add some white pepper and black pepper to taste. Stir in about 1/2 cup of canned coconut milk until it cooks down. Now, add in the liquid aminos, apple cider vinegar and lime juice. Cook for another 3-5 minutes until the "rice" is looking soft and tender.
- Now, combine the chicken, vegetables, and plantains with the cauliflower rice. Stir well until heated through. Remove the mixture from the heat, and garnish with your favorite add-ins. I used green onions and fresh cilantro, but do whatever suits you!