Jamaican jerk chicken is of the most popular foods from Caribbean and Jamaican cuisines. Jerk chicken is aromatic, smoky and fiery hot. Chicken is marinated for at least 24 – 48 hours and cooked for a longer period, which gives Jamaican jerk chicken a smoky flavor and also keeps the chicken good for longer periods of time even after cooling. Continue reading or jump to recipe
The two main ingredients for Jamaican jerk chicken marinade are scotch bonnet or habanero peppers and allspice. Habanero peppers are one of the spiciest peppers and food gets hotter (spicy hot) the longer the peppers are in it. Just one pepper goes a long away and jerk meat is usually marinated for at least 24 – 48 hours, making the meat spicy hot. In Jamaica, allspice wood is used to cook Jamaican jerk chicken and allspice powder is a good substitute, which gives smoky flavor to chicken/meat. Other common ingredients in jerk marinade are ginger, thyme and scallions.
Jerk is not a spice nor a sauce. It is a cooking technique. There are two theories on how the term ‘jerk’ originated. One theory is Spanish word charqui, meaning dried meat which became jerky or jerk in English. The other is jerking which is poking holes (gashes) to meat so spices can easily be absorbed by meat. Nowadays jerk refers to both jerk spice and also the cooking technique. Traditionally chicken and pork are the two meats for jerk however, nowadays shrimp, beef, lamb, vegetables and tofu are also common.
This week my theme is Caribbean cuisine. My first recipe is Jamaican jerk chicken which I served with some rice. Other Jamaican recipe I tried in the past is Jamaican Chicken Curry which I made for Around the World in 30 days with ABC Cooking.
Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe
Adapted From: NYT Cooking
Marinate: 1 – 2 days
Cooking: 50 – 60 minutes
- 1.4 – 1.6 lbs Chicken Drumsticks (6 pieces)
- 2 Scallions, roughly chopped
- ½ Shallot (I used a ¼ of a small onion)
- 1 Scotch bonnet or Habanero Pepper (I used a latter)
- ½” Ginger, peeled
- 1-2 Cloves of Garlic
- ¼ tbsp Dry Thyme or 1 tbsp Fresh Thyme
- ½ tbsp Allspice Powder
- ½ tsp Cinnamon Powder
- ¼ – ½ tsp Nutmeg Powder
- ½ tbsp Soya Sauce
- ½ tbsp Brown Sugar
- ½ tbsp Salt (adjust to taste)
- ¼ tbsp (¾ tsp) Black Pepper Powder
- ⅛ cup (2 tbsp) Oil
- ¼ tbsp (¾ tsp) White or Apple Cider Vinegar
- ½ Lime, juiced
- Wash chicken, make gashes on chicken. Make sure not to tear the drumstick skin.
- In a blender or food processor take remaining ingredients and make a coarse paste.
- Pour it over chicken and rub on to skin and under the chicken skin.
- Marinate for 12 – 36 hours in the refrigerator. I left it for 48 hours.
- Before grilling, bring it to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil. This is for easy of cleaning. I used a roasting pan with rack.
- Place chicken on the rack. Sprinkle some allspice powder and salt over chicken. This is in addition to what is listed in ingredient list and is optional. I didn’t.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes, turning the chicken around and basting with marinade at least once in between.
- Cook until chicken is cooked and juices run clear when cut with a knife or chicken drumstick temperature reads 180-185 F.
- Remove from oven, transfer to a platter, loosely cover with a foil and let rest for 15 minutes. This will let chicken retain it’s juices as it cools.
- Serve with beans and rice or Caribbean rice which is cooked with beans.
Notes & Suggestions:
- I used drumsticks as we prefer drumsticks for grilled chicken.
- If using breast pieces or thighs, place the chicken skin side up when baking/grilling. Bake/grill until chicken temperatures read 165- 170 F for chicken breast pieces and 180-185 F for thighs.
- Substitute chicken with pork, beef or seafood and cooking times will vary depending on the meat.
- For vegetarian option, use tofu, vegetables, mushrooms and peppers.