Jerked Chicken Pizza

Summer, I love it – longer days, seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables, and the always welcomed street fairs that seem to happen every weekend till September.  They bring out all the yummy street food I haven’t eaten since last summer.  And well, summer in NYC wouldn’t be complete without short dresses, painted toes, warm weather flirting, and insanely bright colored lip colors—or is that just a part of my summer? 🙂

On Memorial weekend, the unofficial kickoff of summer, I met up with a couple of my besties to check out the Brooklyn Academy of Music annual Dance Africa Bazaar.   It’s a three-day long festival filled with cultural shows, live performances and the much anticipated street fair that ends the festival.  Believe me when I tell you, EVERYONE goes for the entertainment, crafts, culture, togetherness, and (most importantly) the food.  This year, as I stood in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, sucking down a quart container of too sweet ‘frutti tutti’ lemonade, I couldn’t help but notice the long lines of patrons patiently waiting to purchase jerked chicken.  At every Caribbean booth that sold food, the lines were just as long as the smokestacks coming from the smokers used to cook the sought after spiced bird.  Watching this scene take place only reminded that I was due to make some of my very own jerk sauce.

I started making jerk sauce last year when I hosted my very first public dinner, where I made a jerk chicken pizza as an appetizer. The crowd went wild to see something as common as jerked chicken take on a different form.  That day, I craved that taste once more.  I don’t know what is about hot days and spicy foods but sometimes it just makes sense.  I like to really taste the jerk sauce and not have it be masked with cheese so I top my jerk chicken pizza with just enough goat cheese to cool down some of the heat from the scotch bonnet peppers used in the smoky, spicy sauce.  Fried shallots was an idea from my friend Elle, which I’m so grateful for and baby arugula dressed in a bit of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and black pepper.  Man, was it good!

You can enjoy this pizza too, using your favorite store-bought jerk sauce.  I suggest that you taste the sauce before smearing it all over your raw dough or flatbread. If you’re a wimp like me when it comes to really spicy food, you can add a little brown sugar to your sauce.  Toss cubed broiled chicken in the sauce as well so everything is flavored nicely.  Bake in the oven until your dough is cooked and the edges are crispy.  Top with goat cheese, fried shallots and arugula.

In the picture, I paired it with my favorite wine, Sauvignon Blanc, but you and your friends can have it with virtually any drink. Enjoy!

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