It’s not often that you sit around the campfire and someone says "WOW, this is delicious!”
Camping recipes are all about keeping things simple with as few ingredients as possible. This mean we often 'make do' with what we’ve got, producing food that is filling, but inevitably boring.
Our spicy jerk chicken & couscous recipe is the polar opposite of boring. The heat from the Jerk rub on the healthy chicken breast will warm you from the inside out, the couscous providing heaps of energy for a day's hiking.
Prepping the jerk seasoning the night before is the biggest job, but one that is seriously worth it because you'll soon be enjoying the kind of meal your normally only expect to enjoy at home.
How to make spicy Jerk chicken & couscous on your camping trip
Jamaican Jerk Spice adds heat and a slightly sweet flavour to meat, but you could also coat fish or vegetables to take any meal to another level. You can use a huge combination of herbs and spices for Jerk seasoning, but traditionally, the seasoning is either wet or dry and uses two key ingredients: allspice, and scotch bonnet peppers.
If like us, you don’t have scotch bonnet peppers lying around, you can use other combinations of chillies.
Note: this one has some kick, so if you don’t like spicy chicken maybe give the chilli a miss.
For this camping recipe you are going to need:
1 x camp stove (or grill / stand for cooking over a campfire)
1 x pot / Billy
1 x skillet / fry-pan
2 x whole chicken breasts
1/2 cup of couscous
1/2 cup of water
rice bran oil
Jamaican Jerk seasoning (see recipe below)
herbs to finish (optional)
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Prep the Jerk seasoning at home before you leave
Add to an air-tight plastic container:
1tbsp garlic powder
3tsp cayenne pepper
2tsp onion powder
2tsp dried thyme
2tsp of sugar (we’re using raw castor sugar)
2tsp sea salt
1tsp ground allspice
a good seasoning of black pepper
½ tsp red chilli powder (our substitute for the heat from scotch bonnets)
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cinnamon.
Okay, so that’s a lot of ingredients, yes, but most of these herbs and spices are already found in any good spice cupboard. Plus, this recipe makes enough seasoning for two meals and it keeps for ages. We know that it will soon be at home on your spice rack.
All you need to do is shake all the ingredients and add to your esky / cooler bag ready for your trip.
Preparing the chicken
Take a couple of chicken breasts, store them in a zip-lock bag, and add them to your Esky. If you are using a small stove and you want to speed up the cooking process before you pack them away, pound each fillet with a rolling pin until they are about 1cm thick.
At the campsite
Prepare your jerk chicken by opening the zip-lock bag and adding your seasoning. Seal the bag and give it a good shake. Massage the seasoning, evenly coating the chicken. This can of course be done before you leave if you want a more intense flavour, but adding it at the campsite allows you to better control the level of spice for your fellow campers.
Cooking the couscous
Light your stove (we're using an MSR Whisperlite stove) or get a fire going and fill a pot with ½ a cup of water. Bring to the boil.
As soon as the water starts to bubble, remove it from the heat and set aside.
Add ½ cup of couscous to the water and stir making sure the water coats every grain.
Season with salt and pepper, and your choice of spice. Fresh herbs are great if you have them; we’re using some cumin to give it a bit of extra flavour.
Stir the couscous with the seasoning, seal with a lid or cover with tin foil and leave to absorb for five minutes.
After five minutes, remove the lid and fluff the couscous with a spork before spooning into a plastic container and setting aside while you cook your chicken.
Cooking the chicken
Get a pan nice and hot on your stove, and add about a tbsp. of oil. We’re using rice bran oil because of its high smoking point.
Cook your chicken breasts one at a time, turning regularly to help control the heat on each side. Don’t worry if it starts to caramelise and turn black, the sugar and spice in the jerk seasoning is supposed to do that, giving the chicken it's intense flavour.
After about three minutes on each side – give or take – the chicken should be firm to the touch at the fattest part.
Remove each fillet from the heat, lay on a wooden board and cover with foil to trap the heat, allowing to rest for 5 minutes.
Slice the chicken and serve on a bed of couscous. Present on a Frisbee to your eagerly awaiting comrades.