By Leah Eskin| ChicagoTribune.com
When you can’t find the food truck at lunch time, you can make this jerk chicken on skewers dish. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)
It’s summer and everyone is hitting the road. Even lunch. The taco tricks out a truck and takes to the street. Same with the meatball. Cupcake. Dumpling. Dim sum. Crepe.
The itinerant life is no longer just for the Popsicle or soft serve. In many a metropolis, everyone’s mobile.
Which is convenient, if the barbecue truck swings by your corner just when lunch pangs hit. And inconvenient if you spend the noon hour trying to track down your empanada via text, Twitter or taxi.
The lunch truck delivers many an old favorite, like sub sandwich, and many a new favorite, like pincho. Pincho means skewer. Much like the French brochette, the Middle Eastern kebab or the rustic whittled stick. Popular in Latin America.
Or thereabouts. Consider the pincho that skewers chunks of pineapple and jerk chicken — the allspice-rubbed, charcoal-grilled Jamaican street staple. Drizzled with cilantro salsa and dusted with Mexican cheese, it tours many a sunny destination, on wheels.
Jerk chicken pinchos
Prep: 30 minutes
Grill: 10 minutes
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons allspice
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 tablespoon thyme (fresh or dried)
4 whole (1-pound) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into
1 1/2-inch cubes
1 whole pineapple, peeled, cored, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
8 ounces queso fresco, grated
Salsa verde, see recipe below
Make jerk seasoning by combining 2 tablespoons salt, sugar, garlic, allspice, 1 tablespoon black pepper, red pepper, ginger and thyme in a large bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat. Let rest 15 minutes. In a separate bowl toss pineapple with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Soak bamboo skewers in water at least 10 minutes (or use metal skewers). Thread chicken and pineapple onto skewers, starting and ending with pineapple chunks.
Grill directly over medium heat until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Top each skewer with salsa verde and shredded cheese. For authentic food truck style, enjoy standing on the sidewalk.
Adapted from chef Jorge Pimentel of Sabor’a Street food truck in Washington, D.C.
Salsa verde: Drop two cloves garlic into a running food processor. Buzz to bits. Add leaves and tender stems from 1 bunch cilantro, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon coarse salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Pulse to a rough sauce. With machine running, pour in 1/4 cup canola (or other mild) oil to make a thick sauce.