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Grilled Chicken Skewers with Habanero Chili and Allspice

Allspice tastes of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg combined. Its warm flavor blends with the fiery heat of habanero chili in this rendition of Jamaican jerk seasoning. The heat is tempered by fresh-tasting green onions, salty soy sauce and sharp vinegar.

Ingredients:

  • 1 habanero chili 
  • 2 garlic cloves 
  • 6 green onions, coarsely chopped 
  • 2 Tbs. cider vinegar 
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce 
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice 
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme 
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 
  • 1/2 cup canola oil, plus more for grilling  
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, each about 7 oz.  
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch squares 

Directions:

Cut the chili in half and remove and discard the seeds. Reserve half of the chili for another use (or use both halves if you like your food very spicy).

Turn on a food processor and drop the garlic and chili through the feed tube to chop them. Stop the motor, add the green onions, vinegar, soy sauce, allspice, thyme and salt and pulse a few times to finely chop the green onions. With the motor running, add the 1/2 cup oil in a slow, steady stream and process until the mixture is smooth.

Cut each chicken breast into 8 pieces, each about 1 inch square, to make a total of 24 pieces. Transfer the pieces to a nonreactive bowl. Pour in the marinade and stir to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 6 hours.

If using bamboo skewers, soak 6 skewers in water to cover for at least 30 minutes.

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill. Lightly oil the grill grate.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade. Thread 4 chicken pieces, alternating with 3 bell pepper pieces, onto each skewer. Place the skewers on the grill, cover the grill and cook, turning the skewers occasionally, until the chicken feels firm when pressed with a fingertip, 10 to 12 minutes total.

Transfer the skewers to a warmed platter and serve immediately. Serves 3 or 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Chicken, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2008).