Jerk Chicken On The Grill

CHEF ON A SHOESTRING: Jerk Grilled Chicken Thighs
As one of Food & Wine's Best New Chefs, it was no problem for Brad Thompson to take the Saturday Early Show's Chef on a Shoestring challenge. He is preparing a Father's Day menu for four, on a $40 budget.

Though chef Thompson specializes in fine French cuisine, he turns his talents to the grill and cooks up a casual menu: Watermelon and Ginger Limeade, Curried Vegetable Salad, Jerk Grilled Chicken with Corn on the Cob and Berry Dessert Parfaits.

The following are his recipes:

Chef Thompson heads the kitchen at "Mary Elaine's" at The Phoenician resort in Scottsdale Ariz. Both the restaurant and its young chef have both won a variety of awards including the Five-Diamond designation by the American Automobile Association and the Grand Award from Wine Spectator magazine.

Watermelon and Ginger Limeade

1/4 cup water
1/8 cup of sugar
3/4 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
4 cups cubed seedless watermelon, plus 4 small wedges, for garnish (from a 4-6 pound watermelon)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice


    In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar and ginger and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Strain the ginger syrup into a small bowl.
  1. Puree the cubed watermelon in a food processor. Strain the puree through a fine sieve set over a bowl. Stir in the ginger syrup and the lime juice.
  2. Fill 4 tall glasses with ice and add the limeade. Garnish with melon wedges and serve.
*Add a splash of rum, if desired

Curried Vegetable Salad
Serves 4 people

Salad Ingredients
1 Head bibb lettuce, quartered and rinsed
1 large jicama, peeled and diced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into ½" pieces
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 avocados, large diced
1 bunch radishes, rinsed and cut in quarters
1 bunch baby carrots
1 red onion, peeled and sliced thin
1 bunch cilantro, leaves picked and rinsed

Curry Mayonnaise Ingredients
2 egg yolks
1 cup salad or canola oil
2 tsp. lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1 cup whipped cream
1/2 oz. ginger minced
3 tsp curry powder, madrass
1 shallot minced
1/4 cup water


    Clean and cut all the vegetables and set aside
  1. For the mayonnaise, put the egg yolks in a mixing bowl and beat with a whisk for 2 minutes.
  2. Slowly add the oil in a steady stream; continue whisking until you add 1/2 the oil.
  3. Add lemon juice while whisking and continue to add oil.
  4. Taste for seasoning and salt and pepper to the mayonnaise.
  5. In a sauté pan, sweat ginger and shallots in 1 Tbsp. of oil until fragrant, and add the curry powder. Allow to cook for 3 minutes to toast the curry.
  6. When very fragrant, add 2-3 Tbsp. of water, and remove mixture from heat.
  7. When cooled, add the mayo to the pan with spices and combine well. Push the mayo through a strainer to remove ginger, etc.
  8. Fold in the whipped cream and combine.
  9. To serve, place a quarter of the bibb lettuce on each plate and spread out a little bit to resemble a fan. Combine all the vegetables and season with salt and pepper and divide among the four plates. Add a tablespoon of the curry mayonnaise over the salad and serve with toasted pitas if desired.

Jerk Grilled Chicken Thighs and Corn on the Cob
Serves 4 people

8 Chicken Thighs
8 Ears of Fresh corn
4 Tbsp. butter
Salt and pepper
Pinch of sugar
McCormick Jerk season spice

For the brine
2 quarts cold water
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar


    To brine the chicken, add salt and sugar to boiling water to dissolve and then add to the cold water. When cold, add the chicken pieces and refrigerate for 2 hours, making sure the pieces are completely submerged.
  1. Meanwhile, peel the husks of the corn back and remove all the corn silk. Brush butter on each ear and season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar. Pull the husk back over the corn and put into a bucket of ice water.
  2. When ready to cook, heat your grill. If using charcoal, start the fire and wait until the coals are gray.
  3. Rub the chicken thighs with olive oil and jerk seasoning to taste.
  4. Cook the chicken thighs skin side down first to color on a low to medium heat for about 6-8 minutes and then turn over and cook another 8-10 minutes covered.
  5. Place the corn cobs in their husks directly on the grill and cook for about 15 minutes, turning constantly. The husks should be almost black when done.
*NOTE: To speed up the cooking time the chicken can be baked for 12-15 min. Before grilling so that you are just finishing it on the grill.

Dessert Parfait
Serves 4 people

1 pint strawberries, rinsed and halved
2 cups of watermelon juice, left from punch recipe
1 envelope of unflavored gelatin
1 8oz container mascarpone cheese (or crème fraiche)
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 store bought pound or angel food cake, cut into 1" slices
Zest from 3 limes, used for juice in the punch


    Warm the watermelon juice and add gelatin, stirring until gelatin is completely dissolved.
  1. When partially cooled, pour into 4 parfait or large martini glasses and place in refrigerator to chill for 2 hours.
  2. In a bowl whip the mascarpone or crème fraiche with the brown sugar until thick.
  3. When ready to serve, toast the pound cake on the grill until well toasted and cut the slices into cubes.
  4. Remove the glasses and place a few strawberries on each gelatin and then a layer of the whipped mascarpone. Add a few cubes of the cake cubes, then some more mascarpone and then the rest of the strawberries.
  5. Garnish with fresh mint or basil leaves and the lime zest.