June 24, 2019

Simple, Real Food: The Flavors of Jamaica

I lived in Jamaica for a few months back in the early nineties having always had a fantasy about living Caribbean style.  I moved to Negril and opened a Jamaican restaurant at a yoga retreat in town.  It was a short-lived experiment due to Hurricane Gilbert, which wiped out the entire island and I returned to NYC to start over once again.

Lately the weather here has reminded me of the warm winters they have on the islands and memories of that delicious Jamaican food has had me cooking dishes such as jerk chicken, curried goat and coconut rice.  Great for entertaining, this satisfying spicy and soulful cuisine is perfect for outdoor living.

With several weeks left of wonderful weather hopefully, I hope you get to try some of these dishes.  In case you don’t have time for cooking, my favorite hole-in-the-wall spot for Jamaican food in the area is Patty Palace in Middletown.  It is a family-run business and has really good jerk chicken and curried goat.

Jerk Chicken

Serves 6


2 tsp. allspice
2 Tb. chopped thyme
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 ½ tsp. salt
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 one inch piece ginger, chopped
½ tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Juice of 3 limes
2 scotch bonnet peppers, chopped
6 scallions, chopped
4 pounds chicken thighs


1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a processor and blend to form a paste. Make a number of shallow slits on the chicken and rub all over. Marinate for at least two hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

3. Heat the oven to 450. Place the chicken on two baking sheets and roast for 30 to 35 minutes rotating the pan once.*

5. Increase the oven to broil and broil the chicken for 2 to 3 minutes until golden. Or light a grill and grill until browned and crispy. Serve on a large platter with steamed coconut rice.

  • If you grill the chicken – grill for 40 to 50 minutes over low heat covered, turning occasionally.
  • You also skewer the chicken and then grill as an appetizer

Jamaican Style Curried Goat

Serves 10



3 pounds goat meat, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, leg of lamb can be used instead
1/2 cup white vinegar
5 scallions, coarsely chopped
Juice of 2 limes
1 to 2 scotch bonnet peppers, seeded, minced
1 tsp. allspice
1 Tb. black pepper
4 Tb. Madras curry powder
1 Tb. kosher salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tb. Madras curry powder
3 large cloves garlic, minced


1. Combine the meat, vinegar, scallions, lime juice, peppers, allspice, pepper, 4 Tb. curry, and salt in a large bowl and marinate at least two hours or overnight.

2. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven and sauté the remaining 2 Tb. curry for 10 seconds. Add the garlic and cook another 20 seconds. Add the goat meat mixture and mix well. Cover and cook over medium low heat until the meat is tender about 2 hours. Add a little water or chicken broth if the pan is drying out. Taste and adjust seasoning and serve over rice.

Coconut Rice

Serves 8


2 Tb. vegetable oil
1 Tb. minced ginger
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 tsp. salt
Fresh pepper
4 scallions, minced
1/3 cup sweetened coconut, toasted in a dry skillet until golden
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped


1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the ginger and onions and cook over medium heat 4 minutes. Add rice and cook 2 minutes, stirring. Add the coconut milk, and water to equal 3 cups, salt and pepper. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook about 10 minutes. Allow rice to sit, covered for about 5 minutes.

2. Fluff rice and garnish with scallions, coconut and cilantro before serving.

Amanda Cushman

Amanda Cushman

Editor’s Note: Amanda Cushman of Simple Real Food Inc., is a culinary educator who has cooked professionally for over 30 years.  She has taught corporate team building classes for over 15 years for a variety of Fortune 500 companies including Yahoo, Nike and Google.  She began her food career in the eighties and worked with Martha Stewart and Glorious Foods before becoming a recipe developer for Food and Wine magazine as well as Ladies Home Journal.  Having lived all over the United States including Boston, NYC, Miami and Los Angeles, she has recently returned to her home state of Connecticut where she continues to teach in private homes as well as write for local publications. 

Amanda teaches weekly classes at White Gate Farm and Homeworks and is also available for private classes.  Her cookbook; Simple Real Food can be ordered at Amazon as well as through her website www.amandacooks.com 

For more information, click here to visit her website.


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