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How to make 'Rasta Pasta' with jerk chicken

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Remember that jerk marinade recipe we published about a week ago? Reacquaint yourself, because today I am blessing your palettes with a well-known dish, Rasta Pasta. Here's the thing, I have a love-hate relationship with pasta. It's never something I crave but when I get that sensual pull toward a nice hot plate of flavorful pasta, I go all out. Rasta Pasta is by no means a traditional Caribbean dish, but it's most definitely a wonderful twist on the Italian staple.

INGREDIENTS

1  medium whole chicken, cut in half 1 batch of this jerk seasoning recipe 10 large roma tomatoes, halved 6 multicolored sweet peppers 32 ounces heavy cream 2 bags penne pasta 1 cup fresh mozzarella, diced

DIRECTIONS

If at all possible, make the jerk marinade the night before. Spread over chicken (add some salt and pepper to the chicken before the marinade) and place in the fridge overnight.
Photo: Devonnie Black
Photo: Devonnie Black
Photo: Devonnie Black Start on your jerk seasoning if you haven't prepped the night before. Once made, cover the chicken with it and place in the fridge as you prep everything else. A grill is key to locking in the smoky flavor, because many of us don't have a cut out oil drum laying around for traditional jerk chicken. Get your grill going low and slow. Rinse and slice the tomatoes. Sprinkle some salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Rub them with thyme and the place them skin-side-down on the grill. You're looking for the tomato to start to get a little wrinkly and dried out. Grill marks are welcomed, so don't be afraid if the skin starts to get dark. Once they're slightly less juicy, pull tomatoes from the grill and place them on a rack to cool. Remove the chicken from the fridge and set it aside. Wash and julienne the sweet bell peppers, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil before placing them on the grill. You can place them on a little grilling tray so you don't lose any to the openings of the grill. Place the chicken on the grill and cook until the meat is white. I am completely against undercooked chicken. At a super low temperature, you're looking at a good 2-hour cook time. You can pull the peppers after 30-45 minutes depending on how you like them done.
Photo: Devonnie Black
Photo: Devonnie Black
Photo: Devonnie Black Now it's time to whip together our sauce. Place the tomatoes along with 3 cloves of garlic and a few sprigs of fresh thyme in a blender and pulse for five seconds. Blend the tomatoes and slowly add the heavy cream until everything is combined. Pour into a medium saucepan and add 1/4 cup of your mozzarella. Cover over low heat and let that simmer for ten minutes while you boil the pasta. Cook pasta in a large pot according to directions on the package. Strain and place the noodles back in the pot. Once the chicken is finished, let it sit for about 20 minutes to give the juices enough time to settle. Once it's is ready to handle, strip the meat from the bones. You want the skin too. Add the sauce, peppers, mozzarella and chicken to the noodles in batches. Mix together and then add more of each until finished and all the flavors come together.
Photo: Devonnie Black
Photo: Devonnie Black
Photo: Devonnie Black Serve immediately. Try this for dinner this week and share it with friends. You'll hear how amazing of a cook you are for days after this meal. Trust me.

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