Caribbean Jerk Chicken

The “jerk” style of cooking that is found all throughout the Caribbean, especially in Jamaica, gets its roots from the Taino Natives who inhabited the Caribbean Islands before the European settlers came. It is estimated that this style of cooking dates back at least 2500 years. This cooking style was then taught to the African slaves who were brought over to the islands. The word “jerk” branches out from the Spanish word charqui, which means dried strips of meat, which is similar to today’s jerky styled meats. The “jerk” is both a sauce made from spicy peppers, herbs and spices that meats and vegetables are marinated in and it is also a cooking method. Today, we usually just grill the meats, but traditionally, they were slow cooked over coals that were made from fresh green wood, which was most traditionally wood from the pimento tree.

Right now, the only adventurous traveling we are doing is in our imaginations and in my kitchen. As much as I would LOVE to be actually be down diving in the Caribbean right now, it’s just not going to happen at the moment. As you know, we hosted a little get together for New Year’s Eve Ringing in the New Year and black-eyed peas were prominently featured in the meal. I made my whole portion of the meal Caribbean, and served the black-eyed peas with some jerk chicken.

This is supposed to be a spicy dish with a kick. So you can adjust the heat as much as you like. If you like it milder, add less of the peppers and don’t add the red pepper flakes. If you like it hot, add more and really kick it up. I tend to like things on the spicy side, but when I am cooking for others who do not like it so hot, I tone it down a bit.

Jerk Chicken

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup green onions,chopped fine

2 TBSP garlic

2 TBSP ginger

1 TBSP fresh thyme, chopped or 1 tsp dried thyme

2 TBSP fresh cilantro, chopped fine

2 jalapenos, diced fine

1/4 lime juice

salt & pepper to taste

red pepper flakes to taste

3-4 lbs chicken – either breasts or pieces

Mix all the ingredients together well and pour over the chicken pieces. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before grilling.

Grill it over a hot grill until the chicken is completely cooked. Reserve the marinate and heat it up in a skillet or pan, then top it over the cooked chicken when ready to serve.

Serve with your favorite Caribbean side dishes and soon you will be transported to the warm tropics of the Caribbean, even if only in mind and spirit, and certainly with your taste buds.

Happy New Year. Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

Author: ajeanneinthekitchen

I have worked in the restaurant and catering industry for 35 years. I attended 2 culinary schools in Southern California, and have a degree in culinary arts from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, as well as a few other degrees in other areas. I love to cook and I love to feed people.

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