Overheard: “What is a Jerk Chicken”

Another short post, due to all the crazy Canada’s Day celebrations. If you follow the photo blog on Instagram you’ll know that I haven’t posted in a while because my phone imploded and I lost most of my photos for postings.

But now I am back in business, blogging about a well-known Caribbean dish – Jerk Chicken. Jerk Chicken has a roots in Jamaica, long before it became appropriated into mainstream restaurants, or used as a type of flavouring for chips. I don’t claim to be an expert on Jerk chicken, but I do know that it is nothing short of bold. This post will be brief, just looking at the basics.

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When we talk about Jerk Chicken having ‘bold spices’ its not only a reference to its heat factor, but also the incorporation of other common spices like cinnamon, allspice, ginger, etc. Jerk chicken is more or less made with the following ingredients (Courtesy of Wikipedia):

  • *Allspice
  • *Scotch bonnet peppers
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon
  • Scallions
  • Nutmeg
  • Thyme
  • Garlic
  • Brown Sugar
  • Ginger
  • Salt

Allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers are a must, and the recipes you can find will offer their own combination or omission of the other ingredients that follow. Unless you have an awesome Jamaican or West Indian parent that makes their own from scratch, many people now turn to packaged dry seasonings or pre-made ‘wet’ mixes found at a local Caribbean grocer. Perhaps in another post I shall explore what is available at common grocers and recruit some friends for a taste test. A more thorough history and application of Jerk Seasonings can be in this article by Felicity Cloake.

Cooking jerk chicken is an art on its own, as you try to capture the smokiness of the BBQ/grill without drying out the chicken. The heat from the grill locks in all of those lovely spices and amplifies the flavor and heat.

I am still reminiscing about the Jerk Chicken I had at the Canada’s Day festival at the Harbourfront Centre, where I overheard someone say “what is A jerk chicken”? Sorry friend, it’s just jerk chicken.

Brought to you by the Caribbean Catering Service at the World Café in Harbourfront Centre:

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You’ll see Jerk Chicken featured above, grilled to perfection. It is often accompanied with peas and rice (or rice and peas lol) and fried plantain (my favourite!). The spices were prevalent, however I would assume a bit ‘toned down’ to satisfy a more general population. However you could boost up the heat with complementary hot sauce on the side.

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If you’re itching to make your own, I have included links to some websites and fellow bloggers on their versions of Jerk Chicken!

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