I know it’s still January but I’m craving some sunshine food so I googled ‘what’s in season January’ in a bid to find something that would fix my craving. And did you know – pineapple is actually in season! My Caribbean chicken with pineapple salsa, rice and tortilla chips sprang straight to mind. I love pineapple salsa and can get through most of a pineapple in one sitting so this was great news. In summer I often make this salsa with an equal split of pineapple, melon and mango but no one likes a crunchy mango or a plain, watery melon and pineapple is very good on its own here.
A hunt in the supermarket revealed a plethora of green pineapples, not too many golden ones. However, the way to tell if a pineapple is ripe is to pull out a central leaf. If it comes away easily with just a very gentle tug then the fruit is ripe. And it was beautifully ripe – full of flavour and really sweet.
The chicken I do this with can either be baked in the oven or pan fried in a tiny bit of oil on the hob so do what works best for you. I love the allspice in this recipe but do beware, it’s quite strong and an unusual flavour. If you’re not confident that everyone will like it then start with quarter of a teaspoon, and up the quantity the next time you make it if it goes down well.
If you are serving this as a mid-week meal then feel free to leave out the sides, but if you want something a bit more special then do include them. I forgot to add the lime for the photo but I definitely added it when I came to eat this. And I know I put the hot sauce down as optional but it really is a gorgeous addition. I never bothered to buy Caribbean hot sauce until recently, believing that all chilli sauces are vaguely equal and just using whatever I had in, but I now have a growing repertoire of chilli sauces, and I can assure you, they all taste very different to each other.
Caribbean Chicken with Pineapple Salsa
For the chicken
- 1½ tablespoons light olive oil
- 1½ tablespoons soy sauce (I use Kikkoman Less Salt Soy Sauce)
- 1½ tablespoons lime juice
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon powdered ginger
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- ¼ teaspoon chilli flakes (or to taste)
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- 4 medium chicken breasts
For the pineapple salsa
- 1 medium pineapple
- 1 red onion
- 1 good handful coriander leaves (cilantro)
- 1 red chilli
- 1 lime
- Cooked rice
- Tortilla chips (optional)
- Hot sauce (optional)
- Lime wedges (optional)
- Avocado slices (optional)
For the chicken
- Combine all the ingredients down to and including the salt. Pour this over the chicken breasts then rub it in ensuring the meat is fully coated. Cover, place in the fridge and leave to marinade for anywhere between 10 minutes and a couple of hours depending on how long you have.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- When you’re ready to cook the chicken, remove it from the marinade, place in an oven dish, cover tightly with tin foil and bake until cooked through. This will take about 30 minutes. Alternatively you can pan fry or griddle the chicken for about 10 minutes on each side. Ensure the chicken is fully cooked by inserting an instant read thermometer which should read 165°C or cutting it open and checking that the juices run clear.
For the salsa
- Chop the top and bottom from the pineapple then stand it on a chopping board and, cutting from top to bottom, carefully cut away the skin, turning as you go, ensuring that you cut just deep enough to remove the ‘eyes’. Clear away the waste then slice the flesh from the tough, woody core that runs from top to bottom. Cut the flesh into small, regular pieces about 1cm cubed.
- Finely dice the onion and, if you wish to reduce the harsh onion taste, soak it in cold water for 30 minutes, changing the water frequently.
- Remove the seeds and membrane from the chilli and finely dice
- Chop the coriander.
- Combine the pineapple, drained onion, chilli and coriander. Squeeze over the juice of half a lime, taste and add more lime juice if necessary.
- Spoon the rice into bowls. Place a chicken breast in each bowl. Add the salsa and any sides you are serving, and hey presto!