Recipe: Easy as 1-2-3 Jamaican Jerk Chicken
Jamaica is one of the most popular Caribbean islands known to be the birthplace of various genres of music including Reggae and Dancehall. Our athletes are world class and the language spoken by our forefathers-Patois, is popular all over the world. Our little island in the sun is also known as the place that you can come and feel 'irie mon', but another piece of the puzzle that would complete the Jamaican experience is of course the food. One spicy delight in particular, jerk chicken. Now let us take a journey to how exactly this method of cooking came into being.
Firstly, jerk is a method of cooking native to Jamaica in which meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a very hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice/seasoning. During the period of the1700's some of the slaves escaped from the sugar cane plantations and hid in the mountains of Jamaica,they later became known as the Maroons. They didn't have much food so they had to learn how to survive; they learned to catch wild boars in the forest. Not knowing when would be their next kill they used salt, peppers and spices to preserve the meat. The meat was then wrapped in leaves. When it was time to cook the meat, the Maroons would place it on hot rocks then the meat was covered or it was barbecued over a lattice of wood.
This process also introduces a strong smoky flavour to the meat. This method of smoking meat served two purposes, keeping insects away from the raw meat and it would last for longer once it has been cooked. Now let us fast forward to the present day. Recipes have been handed down through generations, recipes and techniques kept secret, as competition and pride runs high among jerk cooks in Jamaica. The process usually starts with the chicken being seasoned overnight.
Long, thick sticks of fresh pimento wood are soaked and then placed parallel above a charcoal fire. The marinated chicken is laid directly on top of the green wood and covered up with a metal lid and left to cook. You don't have to visit a jerk center to sample the spicy delight. It can be done in the comforts of your homes whether it be on a grill or in the oven.
This is one of many recipes that you can try.
You will need the following ingredients to prepare enough jerk chicken for 4 people:-
One 3 1/2 lb chicken
6 sliced scotch bonnet peppers (jalapenos may be used if scotch bonnet peppers are unavailable)
2 Tbsp. thyme
2 Tbsp. ground allspice
8 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 Medium onions, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. salt
2 Tsp. ground black pepper
1 to 2 Tsp of the following (to taste) -ground cinnamon -nutmeg -ginger
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
Juice of one lime
1 cup orange juice
1 cup white vinegar
Chop the onions, garlic and peppers. These do not need to be chopped too fine as they will be liquidised by the blender.
Blend all of the ingredients (excluding the chicken) in a blender to make the jerk sauce.
Cut the chicken up in to 4 pieces.
Rub the sauce in to the meat, saving some for basting and dipping later.
Leave the chicken in the fridge to marinade overnight.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, turn the meat then bake for a further 30 minutes. or Grill the meat slowly until cooked, turning regularly.
Baste with some of the remaining marinade whilst cooking.
For best results, cook over a charcoal barbeque (ideally over a rack of pimento wood).
Chop each quarter chicken portion in to 5 or 6 smaller pieces using a heavy cleaver.
Use a wooden spoon (or something similar) to hold the chicken in place whilst chopping .
Serve with festival and salad or rice and peas or hardo bread and the jerk sauce left over for dipping.