Baked Jerk Chicken with Rice and Beans

Baking this in the oven is a great way to capture all the gorgeous flavours, letting the sweet and spicy jerk sauce spread through the rice (which also goes beautifully soft and just slightly gooey in the oven, especially if you use risotto rice). Black beans are a great way to make the veg content of your meal a bit more interesting, too – they have a wonderful savoury flavour which is pretty unique. Baking everything together in the oven makes it super easy – you just need to remember to soak the black beans for a good while beforehand, if you’re using dried ones.

2 chicken thighs & 2 drumsticks
A small bunch of fresh thyme
Ground cloves, nutmeg, allspice
A couple of bay leaves
A splash of rum
A splash of white wine vinegar
1 tsp chopped red chilli (I love Very Lazy ready-chopped chillis in oil)
1 large clove of garlic
200g risotto rice
100g black beans
Chicken stock
Salt and black pepper
Sour cream, to serve

Serves 2, with some rice left over, or 4 if you add more chicken pieces

If you’re using dried black beans, then you need to make sure you soak them well before using them in the dish, so when you get up in the morning, pop them in a jug and cover with water, and leave on one side throughout the day. Alternatively, you can use the canned version that doesn’t require any soaking – it all depends on what you can get and how much time you have.

When you’re ready to prepare the meal, start by sorting out your jerk sauce. In a blender, combine the thyme, spices, bay leaves, rum, vinegar, chilli and garlic. Place the chicken pieces in a bowl and pour the jerk sauce over the top, stirring well to make sure the chicken is well coated, then put aside for a moment. Next, the black beans: if you’re using dried ones, then drain the soaking liquid, rinse and pop in a small saucepan, cover with boiling water, and boil for ten minutes. If you’re using canned black beans, just drain and rinse.

Once the chicken has been sitting in the marinade for about ten minutes (so if you don’t need to boil your beans, just put your feet up for a moment), place a frying pan on a medium heat and add the chicken with a splash of oil. Don’t discard the rest of the jerk sauce yet. Brown the chicken lightly all over, then take off the heat.

Preheat the oven to 210˚C (190˚C fan). When the beans are ready, tip into a large ovenproof baking dish, add the remaining jerk sauce from the bowl, and mix with the dry risotto rice. Make up a large jug of stock and add enough to cover the rice and beans, then season the mixture well. Finally, place the chicken pieces on top, skin-side-up – they should sink slightly into the liquid, which will keep them beautifully moist inside.

Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for an hour, checking every now and then to see if more liquid is required – if the rice is starting to look dry on top, add more stock. About halfway through, carefully move the chicken to a side plate with tongs, give the rice and beans a good stir, then replace the chicken on top and return to the oven. When the timer goes, taste the rice to make sure it’s perfectly cooked, then serve up with plenty of sour cream on the side. Yum!