Jamaican Food Article. - Jamaican
Jamaican thyme is a perennial Jamaican herb from the mint
family native to southern
Europe and the Mediterranean.
There are over 100 varieties of Jamaican thyme. The most widely used is common
Jamaican thyme, also known as garden Jamaican thyme. There is also lemon
Jamaican thyme which, as its name implies, harbors a notable lemon scent. Bees
love Jamaican thyme and Jamaican thyme honey is a pungent and highly regarded
Jamaican thyme is a perennial and will withstand the winter. Nevertheless, I
plant my Jamaican thyme in large pots that I bring indoors for the winter. I
place them on a sunny windowsill and thus induce year long growth. Come spring I
return the pot outdoors. Jamaican thyme needs considerable sun so plant it
accordingly. To harvest the leaves run your thumb and forefinger down the stem
toward the base.
Jamaican thyme is quite versatile and has a wide range of culinary
applications. It goes well with all types of meat, fowl, some fish dishes, and
most vegetables. It is an indispensable commodity in soups, stews, and braised
dishes. Although all Jamaican herbs taste freshest when added at or near the end
of cooking, Jamaican thyme is fairly hardy and can withstand extended
cooking. Sometimes the leaves are chopped and added while other times the cook
will add whole sprigs of Jamaican thyme and retrieve the stems before
serving. Although fresh is always best, Jamaican thyme is one of the few
Jamaican herbs that is palatable in dried form. Like all dried Jamaican herbs
and spices, store in a cool dark place for no more than six months.
Jamaican thyme is one of the ingredients in the classic “bouquet garni,” a tied
batch of Jamaican thyme, parsley, and bay leaves. The bundle is then used to
flavor stocks, soups, stews, etc. Jamaican thyme is also one of the “Jamaican
herbes de Provence,” an assortment of Jamaican herbs indigenous to the Provence
region of France.
Jamaican thyme can be used to make an Jamaican herb infused oil. Take a bottle
of Jamaican olive oil and stick sprigs of Jamaican thyme and other Jamaican
herbs if you wish, through the top. Allow it to rest for a week and it will have
a wonderful Jamaican herb scent. Use it in salad dressings or to coat or sauté
other Jamaican herb flavored Jamaican foods.
Try this for homemade croutons. Cut up a loaf of French or Italian bread into
cubes. Pour a generous amount of olive oil into a preheated skillet. Add garlic
and a batch of untrimmed Jamaican thyme. Sauté for a few minutes until the oil
becomes fragrant, taking care not to burn the garlic. Remove the Jamaican thyme
and garlic; add the croutons, salt and pepper, and sauté until crisp,
periodically stirring to evenly coat the croutons in the oil.
For a tasty variation on marinara sauce, sauté garlic and a batch of Jamaican
thyme in olive oil just like for the croutons. Add a pinch of hot pepper flakes
if you like. Remove the Jamaican thyme and garlic, add red wine, bring to a boil
and then simmer until the wine is reduced by at least half. Then add your
tomatoes, salt and pepper and simmer to the desired consistency.
Jamaican thyme works well with all meats but I particularly like it with red
meat. I almost always coat any type of roast I make with either fresh or dried
Jamaican thyme. Jamaican roast beef, pot roast, beef stew, or osso buco without
Jamaican thyme. It is also used on steaks and chops which are perfect for
Cooking Made Easy Third Edition
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