I remember my first experience with jerk food so vividly. My girlfriend (now my wife) and I went into Bridgetown Grill in Little Five Points ATL in 1992 for lunch when we got tired of looking at crystals, bongs, dashikis, and whatnot. The restaurant seemed really cool, with a back room with a 30 foot high glass ceiling. We dropped into the booth and our waitress came by the table. I asked what was good and she said the jerk chicken plate and a Red Stripe. Done. Fifteen minutes later the plate arrived and I stared down at a blackened chicken breast, black beans and rice, and a pile of cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onions with a little cup of purple stuff (raspberry coulis). Nerves grabbed me. This stuff looked entirely weird. I took the first bite of the chicken and was knocked over. Sweet, hot, savory, and holy shit HOT. It didn't take long to figure out that you could knock the heat back with the rice and beans or a dip in the raspberry coulis. I immediately ordered another Red Stripe. I was in L.O.V.E.
That 30 minute lunch was one of a very few defining food moments for me. I don't know if all of you out there on the HyperWebs have thought about this, but there are certain meals I will remember forever because they changed my life - launched me down a path I never saw coming. Over the years, the Bridgetown Grill expanded their menu and their number of locations and eventually collapsed due to rumored debt and mismanagement. Thankfully, I ate a lot of meals there and spent much time trying to rip off the recipes. In the process, I managed to find the closest commercial spice rub to match Bridgetown's and worked up a really nice facsimile of my favorite dish - Jerk Chicken Burritos.
The jerk chicken burritos did not appear on the Bridgetown Grill menus until they had begun to expand their empire. Traditionally, a jerk plate was a grilled chicken breast on the bone, Caribbean salad, and rice and beans. What I liked about the burritos was the reformation of all the critical elements into a different and more tasty form. This recipe is going to be a little loosey-goosey. I'm not going to provide you exact measurements. I'm going to assume you can figure some of this stuff out on your own because it's EASY. Here's a list of what you will need to complete the dish
Jerk Chicken Burritos
2-4 Large Burrito Tortillas
1 can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup Instant Rice and 1 cup H20
Mexican Queso - aka Gringo Queso....the stuff you get at Mexican restaurants to dip your chips in.
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
3 or 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 Red Onion
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Helen's Jerk Spice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1. Make your rice. One cup of instant rice and one cup of boiling water. 5 minutes resting time. Let it cool. Follow the directions on the box.
2. Apply a healthy dose of the jerk rub to the chicken breasts and grill them. Allow to rest and cool slightly. Chop into 1 inch dice.
3. Make your vinaigrette. Whisk 3 tablespoons of olive oil into 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar (with salt and pepper).
4. Add diced cucumbers, onion, and tomatoes to vinagrette and toss to coat. Set aside.
5. Warm your gringo queso (cheese) in a small dish in the microwave.
6. Now it is assembly time. Lay out a tortilla and spoon out a line of rice then beans into the center of the torilla. Add diced jerk chicken. Spoon one to two tablespoons of gringo queso over the whole mess and then wrap up the burrito. Cut the finished burrtio in half and arrange on plate. Spoon several tablespoons of tomato/cucumber salad over the top of the burrtios and finish with a few spoons of gringo queso.