Jerk Chicken and Sweet Potato Pockets with Homemade Jerk Seasoning

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

I have an unreasonable love for things wrapped in a crust. Calzones, pasties (the FOOD kind you pervert) (although I guess the other kind aren’t so bad either, now that *you* bring them up) (pervert), you name it. I don’t know why covering it in dough makes it more appealing. It’s probably this irrational love that kept me eating disgusting lean-pockets for so long.

The Journey:

Hey, the jerk store called, they’re all out of seasoning! So we had to make our own. We found a pretty good recipe, but it made 26 cups of seasoning. Since we only needed 1 tablespoon, this was a bit of overkill, so we had to modify it just a smidge.


The first time we used ground pork instead of chicken, and it turned out amazing, so we just decided to stick with that. The pork just seemed to go well with the sweet potato. I’m sure chicken would be good too, but it saves you the hassle of having to shred it.


Making the pockets is pretty straightforward. My edges don’t stay crimped very well, even using a fork, but then again I’m just going to eat them, so who cares?


The Verdict:

So tasty. I’m always surprised at how many recipes we have for sweet potatoes. I never knew they were so versatile, but I love them in basically anything. You can’t go wrong! And now I know how to make jerk seasoning too (literally by the gallon), so maybe I’ll find some other use for that.


The Recipe:

Homemade Jerk Seasoning, inspired by allrecipes:

  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Mix all ingredients.

Recipe from Eating Well.

  • 1 medium sweet potato (about 12 ounces)
  • 1 pound prepared pizza dough, preferably whole-wheat
  • 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon jerk seasoning
  • 8 ounces cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced (about 2 cups, see Tip)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Prick sweet potato in several places with a fork. Wrap it in wax paper or parchment paper and microwave on High until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Cut in half. When it is just cool enough to handle, peel and dice.
  3. Meanwhile, shape the dough on a lightly floured surface into a log about 10 inches long. Divide into 5 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 5-inch square with a rolling pin or press into a square with your hands.
  4. Whisk mayonnaise, jalapeño, water and jerk seasoning in a medium bowl. Stir in chicken, scallions, raisins and the sweet potato.
  5. Spread about 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture on half of each dough square, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Fold the dough over the filling and pat it to create a rectangle, then use a fork to crimp the edges closed. Transfer the chicken pockets to the prepared baking sheet and brush the tops with oil.
  6. Bake the pockets until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

Sweet Potato Tacos

The Reason:

We had some ground turkey and we were looking for a recipe to use it up. It’s funny that this is the recipe we found because, although we did use up our ground turkey, this is clearly a sweet potato recipe, not a ground turkey recipe. (I guess technically the original recipe is a yam recipe, but we have only made it with sweet potatoes)

Anyway, this is sooo good, it might just turn you off regular tacos forever. Even if it doesn’t, it makes an excellent change of pace, and is a lot healthier than regular (ground beef) tacos to boot.

The Journey:

I know some of you will be tempted to leave out the jalapenos, but I assure you that it is not spicy, even with four jalapenos. “Yeah, but I don’t like spicy food,” you will say. “He likes spicy food, so he doesn’t understand how tender my palate is. I’m a delicate flower,” you will say. I know that there is nothing I could say to convince you poor folks, other than to physically trick you into eating it with four jalapenos and getting you to admit it wasn’t spicy before I reveal that fact. However, I can’t do that over the Internet, so you’ll have to take my word for it. Or not, I just realized, I really don’t care.

The thing you’ll notice about the filling is that it is orange. Very orange. Startlingly orange. Do not be startled, you’re doing it right.

The ground turkey is nice because it is so lean, but you can really use any kind of ground meat (i.e. beef). You’re mostly going to taste the sweet potatoes anyway.

Another thing I should mention here, is that all tortillas in our house are grilled over the open flame of the stove (we have a gas stove obviously). Just light the burner and set the tortilla directly on it. Flip it after about 10 seconds and do the other side for another 10 or so. It will seem like you are going to set the tortilla on fire. It will get little black burn marks on it. Do not be startled, you are doing it right. You can thank me later.

The Verdict:

Magically delicious.

The sweet potatoes make the filling sweet, which to me seems like it would be a bad thing, but it’s totally not.  (I do NOT like salty and sweet mixed together. It is almost pathological with me.) Also, the texture is a lot softer than ground beef, and it kind of mashes up around all of your toppings keeping everything in better.

The Recipe:

Adapted from

  • 3 sweet potatoes peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 medium-large chopped sweet onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 jalapeno peppers, minced (you can reduce this to 2 if you are nervous about the heat, but it’s really not very spicy!)
  • 2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup tomatillo salsa
  • 1/2-1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • warm flour tortillas
  1. Put the diced sweet potato in a microwave-safe bowl; cook in the microwave until cooked through and fork-tender, stirring every 5 minutes, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil and place over medium heat;
  3. Cook and stir the turkey until crumbled and evenly brown, 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Stir the onion, garlic, and jalapeno pepper into the turkey and continue cooking until the onions begin to caramelize, 7 to 10 minutes.
  5. Season with the chili powder, cumin, Cajun seasoning, and salt.
  6. Mash the sweet potatoes with a potato masher
  7. Pour the salsa over everything; fold the sweet potatoes into the mixture.
  8. Allow the mixture to cook until the excess moisture evaporates.
  9. Garnish with the cilantro.
  10. Heat your tortillas in the microwave if you’re a barbarian, or on the stove if you’re fancy pants like me.
  11. Serve with the warm tortillas and whatever else you put on tacos. I recommend fresh salsa (pico de gallo).

Sweet Potato Fries

The Reason:

Sweet potato fries are delicious, not to mention healthier than regular fries. This one is double good, since you’re not actually frying the french fries in oil. Believe me, this is a much better use of sweet potatoes than those gross, marshmallow-topped dessert/vegetable dishes so popular around Thanksgiving.

The Journey:

The hardest part about this is peeling and chopping the potatoes. Sweet potatoes have a much tougher, sort of papery skin than a regular potato does, so you definitely don’t want that in there.

For my money, you want these to be pretty decent size. I guess that’s just personal preference, but they shrink up a little bit in the oven, so you want to start bigger than you want.

Once you have them chopped up, the rest is easy. Mix them in a bowl, put ‘um on a sheet, and bake ‘um.

The Verdict:

They’re great. We make these all the time, so obviously we like them. The kids love them too. It’s sort of a race to get a hold of any, since everybody gobbles them up as fast as possible.

The Recipe:

Modified from Ingrid Hoffmann’s Sweet Potato Oven Fries recipe.

  • 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into strips
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil (significantly reduced from original recipe!)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Coarse ground rock salt and freshly ground black pepper (optional, but we didn’t use any)

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.

Place the sweet potatoes in a large bowl and toss with olive oil until the sweet potatoes are coated. Add the paprika, chili powder, coriander, salt, and pepper; toss to distribute evenly.

Arrange the coated fries in a single layer on the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes on the lower rack until the sweet potatoes soften. Transfer the pan to the upper rack of the oven and bake 10 minutes longer, until fries are crispy.