Sunday, 27 June 2010

FABPOW! Jerk Chicken and Founder's Centennial IPA

Sitting at work on a Friday afternoon, having just finished what is always my busiest and most stressful period, and watching the Brazil-Portugal game on iplayer, my thoughts turn to my soon-to-be-growling gut. I’d already filled the fridge with the beers that I wanted to drink but I had no designs on the dinner yet. The beer was Founder’s Centennial IPA so I worked back from there.

Jerk chicken is something I’ve never cooked before but it’s easy: blitz up spices, marinate chicken, cook. Classic jerk contains allspice and scotch bonnet chillis, wikipedia tells me. In my marinade I used: fresh thyme, lots of garlic, thumb-sized lump of fresh ginger, a couple of chillis (I’m not brave enough for scotch bonnet), juice of a lime, paprika and smoked paprika (I love paprika and the smoked one is there to reenact the BBQ’d quality of classic jerk), fresh coriander, all spice, salt and loads of black pepper, oil. An hour to marinade left plenty of time to make coleslaw, something else I’d never made before – grated carrots, cabbage and onion mixed with mayo, mustard and lemon juice. Easy. I fried the chicken to get it going and then put it in the over for 30-40 minutes. When it was done, as I left it to cool for 10 minutes, I sorted myself some corn on the cob to make my dinner as close to a Nandos as possible.

Founders’ Centennial IPA is 7.2% and 65IBU, so it was primed to stand up to the heat of the chicken. It’s overflowing with floral aroma, the orange blossom, a little caramel, sherbet and some over-ripe strawberries but it’s the body which makes this FABPOW work – it’s full and smooth, mouth-filling but not sticky – it carries the hops all the way through with plenty of pithy orange and floral fudge. With the chicken it set off in a new direction: the caramel body loved the charred, crispy chicken skin, the hops and the spice were pitched right at the same level and the floral, herby quality in the beer was emphasised by the earthy hops in the rub (the coleslaw acted as a cooling extinguisher to the heat, while the charred, nutty sweetness of the corn makes it a great beer snack). It’s messy, it’s finger-licking, it’s spicy, it’s delicious, it's food and beer at its simple best, it’s a FABPOW!

Anyone had any good food and beer combos recently?

After this I had a Captain Lawrence Captain’s Reserve IIPA and it probably would have been even better with the chicken. It stands out as one of the best IPAs I’ve had this year: peaches, apricots and mango bursting out in all directions, it’s never too bitter nor too sweet nor too floral nor too citrus, just dangerously, wonderfully drinkable - I didn’t want the bottle to end. I bought it from beermerchants and I’ve just checked the website – sold out. The Centennial is still there though, for now.


  1. Scotch bonnets have a unique flavour which I don't think can be substituted by any other chilli. It's a pity the brain-eating heat of them makes them so tricky to use.

  2. Jerk chicken and IPA is a great pairing. I had it with Highland Brewing Co.'s Blast, and the sweet pale malt and tropical fruity hops really made the jerk chicken sing.

  3. If you're brave enough to go with the scotch bonnet (or as we Americans call them, habanero) peppers, I would go with something a little more refreshing and slightly less hoppy. Lagunitas Pale would be nice, or a more traditional English IPA.

    Barm is right though, the peppers have a unique flavor, very sweet, searingly spicy.

    I had true jerk chicken when in the Bahamas for my honeymoon. For a couple that likes to eat very spicy food, we were floored. It was almost painful to eat, but so flavorful we couldn't stop. Sadly, there all you have to drink is Red Stripe.

  4. Mario - next time I'll try it with the scotch bonnets (without the seeds though!), the other reason I didn't with this one is that the shop I got my ingredients from didn't sell them. I would tone the beer down though and instead of the Lagunitas Pale (which is super hoppy, if I remember right) I'd go for their Pils, I think.