Jamaican jerk chicken has to be their most famous dish. Although saltfish and Ackee is considered to be the national dish, jerk chicken is known throughout the world. It is hot, spicy and delicious. There are a few requirements to make it properly. First you need to make the jerk base and marinate the chicken in that base overnight. Keep in mind that this base can also be used to flavor other things like the dressing for the hot pepper shrimp appetizer dish we enjoyed. It keeps for quite a while in the refrigerator. The other thing which is a bit harder to pull off, if you are not actually in Jamaica, is the use of Pimento wood. This is the distinct flavor of Jamaica. One can use allspice and water to make a regular wood smoke with the flavor of Pimento which is totally worth the effort. Just soak some regular wood chips in some allspice flavored water and use that wood chips when you grill the chicken. There are numerous recipes for Jerk, each family has their own cherished recipe. This recipe has all the elements found in a good jerk and you will love it!
Jamaican Jerk Chicken
- JERK BASE
- 2 tsp allspice
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ginger minced
- 6-8 garlic cloves
- 1 or 2 Habanero peppers or Scotch Bonnet
- 1 tbsp ground thyme or 2 tbsp thyme leaves
- 1-2 bunches green onions
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste at least 1 tsp Kosher or sea salt
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 whole chicken cut into pieces for grilling
- JERK SAUCE
- 2 tbsp Jerk paste above
- 6 oz Red Stripe beer
- ⅔ cup 5 oz pineapple juice
- ¾ cup 6 oz ketchup
- Put all the ingredients listed for Jerk base in a food processor or blender and liquefy.
- Pour base in a jar and keep refrigerated; the sauce will keep indefinitely, if refrigerated.
- Use the paste to rub on chicken, then leave the chicken, covered, overnight in refrigerator.
- Barbecue the chicken over low heat, pour beer over or brush with jerk sauce (prepared sauce below) while grilling.
- To make the jerk sauce:
- Add all ingredients listed for the Jerk sauce to a pan over low heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring often. Add more juice or beer to thin the sauce, alternatively, simmer longer for a thicker sauce.
- Use to baste chicken and/or to serve, spooned over Jerk Chicken.