Jerk foods are prepared in a traditional Jamaican style of cooking, taking bold flavors from Allspice and Scotch Bonnet Peppers. The flavors and spices of authentic Jamaican Jerk are easily created in this dish and lend themselves to be paired not only with chicken, but pork and fish as well. This recipe takes its heat from the Scotch Bonnet Pepper, but you can substitute more readily-available Habanero Peppers if the authentic ingredients are a little harder to come by.
Jerk chicken can be dry rubbed or marinated in a wet rub, such as this recipe for Jamaican Jerk Chicken with Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Herbs & Sausage. The sweetness of the potatoes with the complexity of the herbs is a perfect pairing for this spicy chicken. Fire up this recipe to take your grill on a journey to the Caribbean!
Jamaican Jerk Chicken with Roasted Sweet Potatoes w/ Herbs and Sausage
Ingredients (Jerk Marinade):
- 2 medium shallots
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 Tbsp. allspice
- 1 tsp. ground white pepper
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 cup soy sauce
- ½ cup Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup molasses
- 2 medium Scotch Bonnet peppers (seeds & stem removed)
- ½ cup brown sugar
4 chicken leg quarters
1. Combine all jerk marinade ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Remove 1 cup and set aside.
2. Trim excess fat off leg quarters and place in plastic bag with jerk marinade (aside from the 1 cup that was set aside). Place in refrigerator or cooler for 3-4 hours.
3. Prepare grill to a medium-high heat of about 375°F.
4. Remove chicken from bags (discard liquid). Grill chicken over direct heat for approximately 15 minutes, then turn chicken over and grill an additional 15 minutes or until juices run clear and internal temperature reaches at least 165°F. Utilize remaining 1 cup of Jerk Marinade to baste the chicken 2-3 times while grilling.
Ingredients (Sweet Potatoes w/ Herbs & Sausage)
- 1 large Sweet Potato, diced
- 1 lb. Sweet Italian Pork Sausage
- 3 leaves Fresh Basil
- 2 sprigs Fresh Oregano
- 1 tsp. Dried Sage
- ½ cup water
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- In cast iron skillet, cook sausage over grill or stove for 5 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients to skillet and cook uncovered for approximately 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until potatoes are tender.
Jamaican jerk chicken is a spicy and flavorful dish that has a long and interesting history. The origins of jerk chicken can be traced back to the indigenous Taíno people of Jamaica, who developed a technique for preserving meat by drying it in the sun and seasoning it with a variety of herbs and spices. This preserved meat, known as "boucan," was a staple food for the Taíno and was also traded with other tribes.
The modern version of Jamaican jerk chicken can be traced back to the Maroons, African slaves who escaped from the plantations and formed their own independent communities in the mountains of Jamaica. The Maroons developed a style of cooking called "jerking," which involved grilling or roasting meat over a fire made from pimento wood. This method of cooking imparted a smoky, spicy flavor to the meat and helped to preserve it. The Maroons used a variety of meats, but pork was the most common, and the jerk seasoning they used was a blend of pimento (allspice), scallions, thyme, and Scotch bonnet peppers.
Jerk chicken became popular in Jamaica in the 20th century, and it has since spread to other parts of the world. Today, Jamaican jerk chicken is enjoyed by people all over the globe, and it can be found in a variety of settings, from street food stalls to high-end restaurants.
There are many different variations of Jamaican jerk chicken, and the exact ingredients and cooking method can vary from place to place. Some people like to use a wet marinade made from a blend of spices, while others prefer a dry rub. The meat is usually grilled or roasted over a fire or wood chips, but it can also be cooked in a smoker or in an oven.
Regardless of the specific ingredients or cooking method, Jamaican jerk chicken is a delicious and flavorful dish that has a rich history and a place in the hearts of people all over the world. So the next time you're in the mood for something spicy and delicious, give Jamaican jerk chicken a try – you won't be disappointed!
Want to head in a different direction with your bird? Try our Grilled Chicken Souvlaki!