Caribbean Munching

Jerk Duck with Sweet Potato & Black Bean Mash

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Weekday meals are always tricky when you’ve not got much in the fridge and you’re trying to watch the pennies. So I would recommend to always have a cheeky jar of Jerk seasoning in the fridge ready for those nights when you’re running low on ingredients. I would never normally recommend readymade sauces, but the beauty of jerk paste is you can add to it and make it signature to you, (and sometimes cheating is allowed). Especially if it makes more time for opening that large bottle of red sitting on the side.

Obviously jerk chicken is the staple dish; you cannot beat slow cooked, jerk chicken with rice and peas. However, if you don’t have chicken in the fridge you could probably use jerk paste on any other meat (don’t quote me on that though, I’ve never tried beef or lamb). My favourites to jerk would be fish and duck. The method is the same, it’s just the cooking time that varies.

This recipe can be swapped, amended, chopped and changed in any way that suits you. Use this as your base, but I’ve added options to suit what’s in your fridge to ensure you’re not breaking into those five-pound notes.

Ingredients: Meat – In this case I had two large breasts of duck to use (but you could also use chicken, meaty fish, or turkey. Meat on the bone works best) // 2 tsp Jerk paste // 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder // 1/2 tsp nutmeg // 1 garlic crushed // 1 cm piece of ginger grated (if you have garlic/ginger paste go for it) // drizzle of honey // 1/2 lemon // 1 glass red wine // 1-2 sweet potatoes (depending on how many eating) // 1 can of black beans // generous bunch of coriander // 1 tsp butter (optional) // any greens of your choice for the side – I used broccoli and peas.

Method: You want to start by marinating your meat of choice. I placed my duck in my baking tray and lightly scored the skin. In a small bowl I added the jerk paste, cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic and ginger, honey and juice of half a lemon. Give it a generous stir and season slightly. The trick is to look at the ingredients of your jerk past and select the foods you like – my jerk paste has a sweet touch to it and I love sweet and savoury food hence why I add a little extra honey and cinnamon – if you prefer it to be less sweet perhaps try adding tomato puree or dried herbs.)

Take your personalised paste and rub into your meat making sure it’s all covered and massaged in. Leave to one side – if you have time for 30 mins or an hour thats great but if you’re in a rush you can keep going. Pre-heat your oven to what ever temperature your meat requires – it will say on the packaging. Pour your glass of red wine over the meat- any wine around the £5-8 will work – and pop in the over. Pour another glass and you can have it whilst you work!

Now onto your sweet potato. Peel the spuds and roughly chop ready to boil. If you’ve only got one sweet potato, but some carrots or butternut squash – pop them all in. It’s a great way to use those veg up thats on the turn. Once i made this mash with one normal spud, one sweet, one carrot and half butternut squash. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 mins. Drain your can of black beans, give a quick rinse and leave to the side. Check your spuds and see if they are cooked. When soft, drain the water and place your saucepan on a heat protective surface. Sweet potato hold onto a lot of moisture, so unlike normal spuds they don’t need the help of milk or cream to mash. Add your knob of butter and mash until smooth. Sprinkle a small bit of salt and stir well. Add the black beans and mix until every thing is coated. Pop the lid on and leave to sit until you are ready to serve.

Check your meat – bring the tray out and baste by scooping the sauce and coating to prevent the meat from drying out. Pop back in the oven for the remaining time, which hopefully should be ten minutes or so, which will co-inside with your greens cooking time. I literally whack my broccoli and peas into boiling water, bring to the boil on the hob, turn to simmer and leave for 5-10.

Now you should be all ready to serve. If you have time, it’s always a good idea to let your meat rest – even for 5 mins so it relaxes and the flavours can sit with each-other comfortably. Before you plate the mash potato, roughly chop your coriander and add to the mix. Plate this up first in the centre. Then place a large chunk of jerk meat onto its potato bed, pouring some additional sauce over the top. Place the still hot greens where you can squeeze them, add one last sprinkle of pepper and you are good to go.

Where to buy: Jerk seasoning can be brought from all leading supermarkets, and if you are lucky, a large proportion of newsagents now stock them. A jar will cost no more than £1.50 and will last you 4-5 dishes depending on how spicy you like it.

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