June is National Soul Food Month!

1 Jun

Leading up to National Soul food Month, I’ve noticed a boom in interest in the food, people, restaurants and foodways of this American cuisine. Shunned years ago, one can now “Google It.” This search produces more than 600,000 entries in seconds; need more info—Google Trends can help you too.

I realized soul food was a food we needed to celebrate while working with the Culinary Historians of Chicago on a conference; National Soul Food Month appeared for the first time in the 2001 edition of Chase’s Calendar of Events. National Soul Food Month, celebrates the heritage and history of the foods and foodways of African Americans and peoples from the African diaspora. The culinary contributions of this group have had an indelible impact on the American menu.

 As the founder of National Soul Food Month, my goal is to keep soul food on the table. June leads into the growing season for so many vegetables that are soul food staples though many of the items can be found throughout the year fresh, frozen or dried. Add in Juneteenth and this month is a clear choice to pay homage to foods of the diaspora adding flava’ to menus today.

Fried chicken is one of the mouthwatering selections that appears consistently on the list of soul foods—this year let’s start the month off with poultry infused with flavors from the Caribbean, Jerk Style Chicken.

Add Jerk-Style Chicken to the menu for National Soul Food Month.(Photo, Cooking Light magazine)

Throughout the month Chow-Chow & Soul™ will focus on sharing recipes, chefs and more to inspire you to celebrate National Soul Food Month . . . Let’s get started!

Jerk-Style Chicken

Inspired by a family friend from Haiti, I created this recipe for Cooking Light magazine a few years ago.

1 teaspoon grated lime rind

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon ground allspice

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 cup chopped onion

6 skinless chicken thighs, (about 1 pound)

3 (6-ounce) skinless chicken breasts

In blender jar, combine first 12 ingredients; process until blended. Pour mixture into large, heavy duty zip-top plastic bag; add onion and chicken. Seal bag and marinate in refrigerator on a tray, two to three hours or overnight, turning bag occasionally.

Spray grill rack with cooking spray. Prepare grill for direct cooking over medium heat, (350° to 450°F) If you’re using a charcoal grill, keep a small part of the charcoal grate clear of briquettes as a safety zone of indirect heat.

Remove chicken from marinade and place on grill rack.

Grill Chicken 6 to 12 minutes, turning once or twice or until meat thermometer registers 165° to 170°F degrees Remove from grill to clean serving platter. Let rest 3 to 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with additional lime and parsley, if desired. YIELD: 6 to 8 servings


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