This Jerk Marinade EXPLODES with Flavor! A spicy Jamaican mixture including hot chili peppers, allspice, cinnamon, and thyme.
The essence of Caribbean flavor ~ Jerk chicken is easily Jamaica’s best-known culinary export, and is truly one of the great culinary delights of the world.
I think Jerk Recipes are like Curry Recipes ~ no two recipes are alike, yet the effort is so worth it!
A bevy of zesty and savory seasonings are combined in a food processor or blender and simply rubbed into the chicken and left to marinade at least 6 hours for the ultimate flavor mingling, or overnight.
Ok – lots of ingredients, many you have in your pantry – but the process is so simple… Purée and Marinade!
A healthy & hearty recipe: an explosion of zesty flavors with very little fat and salt – don’t leave out the allspice, it is an essential ingredient.
Jerk cooking refers to a way that a meat, be it chicken, beef, pork, goat, fish, vegetables or fruit is seasoned and cooked.
Jamaicans cook it like this: logs of fresh (pimento) green wood are placed on grates over the charcoal, and the meat is cooked directly on top of the wood, absorbing oils and fragrance that significantly affect the flavor of the finished product.
This imparts a smoky flavor while producing crispy, blackened bits of meat.
Just about any meat can be “jerked,” but the real secret is in the marinade, a truly Jamaican blend of spices and seasonings.
Yes – you can add the marinade to vegetables, and tofu – for extra flavor you might want to add a Jerk Seasoning in the finishing for an extra boost of flavor.
“Jerk” is derived from the action of jerking, which referred to poking meat with holes so that flavor could more easily be absorbed. The term jerk spice (also commonly known as Jamaican jerk spice) refers to a spice rub. The word jerk refers to the spice rub, wet marinade, and to the particular cooking technique.
Jerk chicken has a very well balanced bold flavor of hot, sweet and spicy. The seasoning is based on hot chili peppers and Jamaican allspice. In fact, it is said that the secret of perfect jerk chicken is in the Jamaican allspice (a very important ingredient.)
The rest of the time is waiting for the chicken to marinate. Just remember, the longer the chicken marinates the more the flavors will merge together. Generally, jerk chicken tastes the best if it marinates overnight. You definitely want the chicken to marinate for at least three hours before cooking.
Jerk chicken will oftentimes come in different levels of hot. For mild to medium heat use jalapeño chilies and for spicy and hot use the traditional Scotch Bonnet peppers or habaneros (you can also use a small quantity of these hot ones, like I did.)
Jerk cooking has developed a following in US and Western European cosmopolitan urban centers with Caribbean/West Indian communities.
Most jerk in Jamaica is no longer cooked in the traditional method, it is mostly grilled over hardwood charcoal in a steel drum.
A little Jerk History:
The process of jerk was made famous by the Maroons, but originates from the Taino Indians who utilised a seasoning and cooking technique called charqui. It has been speculated that the term jerk originates from the Spanish word charqui, which loosely translates into old English as ‘jirk’. Charqui is described as seasoned dried pieces of meat and the verb “jerking” evolved from the practice of poking holes into the meat to allow for the spices to soak in. It is said that the art of jerking meat developed under the Tainos as a means of preservation; meat would be seasoned and allowed to dry over a low fire in order to preserve it for long journeys (think of the familiar beef jerky).
You won’t go back to the bottled stuff you get in the grocery store once you make your own. Great for company too.