This Jerk chicken recipe packs a sweet but spicy flavour. The term Jerk refers to a style of cooking originating from Jamaica. However, it’s popular throughout the Caribbean and has been popularised by the West Indian diaspora across the Western world. While It’s most often associated with chicken, pork is also used.
What is Jerk Chicken?
The term jerk refers to the combination of the jerk Spice mix, wet marinade, and the technique involved in cooking Jerk Chicken. Traditionally, this technique has involved secreting foods into fire pits or securing the food in old rum barrels. This infused Jerk chicken with the familiar smokiness as the meat cooked with the smoke unable to escape the enclosed cooking casket.
Modern interpretations make use of wood-fired ovens which infuse smoke and flavour from the wood used in powering the ovens. However, the high temperature of a modern oven and caramelised sugars in the marinade go someway to replicating the flavour, even if it doesn’t evoke the same smoky delight.
Jerk Chicken: Key Spices
To make jerk chicken, the meat is dry-rubbed or marinated with spices. For jerk, these spices always include Scotch Bonnet Chillies and Allspice. Garlic and Thyme also show up repeatedly in Jerk cooking and may also be regarded as key ingredients in this delicious Jerk Chicken recipe.
Allspice is sometimes called pimento, or Jamaican pepper; such is its affiliation with the cuisine and the region. The Spice is ground from the dried berries of the Pimenta Dioica tree, native to Mexico and Central America. But it is now grown all over the world.
Its name also suggests its flavour profile. Allspice’s name comes from an old English trader who first imported the spice and thought it tasted like a combination of Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and Cloves.
Scotch Bonnet chillis are extremely hot but are nowhere near the hottest edible chillis. They are small, plump fruits synonymous with West African and Caribbean cooking. They’re related to the habanero chilli, but Scotch Bonnet chillies have a sweeter flavour. On the Scoville scale, they rank between 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville heat units.
CAUTION: Scotch Bonnets are extremely hot and must be handled with care. Gloves are advised.
An interesting fact about the name of the chilli – Scotch Bonnet supposedly represents the chilli’s likeness to the Scottish Tom o’ Shanter Bonnet.
- 8 Chicken Thighs Bone in, Skin On
- 2 Spring Onions Chopped
- 1 Lime Cut into Wedges
- 4 Tbsp Pineapple Salsa
For the marinade
- 5 Spring Onions Trimmed
- 2 Scotch Bonnet Chilli
- 2 Thumb Sized Pieces of Ginger Peeled, Chopped
- 3 Garlic Cloves Crushed
- 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Thyme Leaves
- 1 Tbsp Allspice
- 1 Tsp Nutmeg
- 1 Tsp Clove
- 1 Tsp Cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp Salt or to taste
- 1 Tbsp Black Pepper
- 4 TbspVeg Oil
- In a blender combine all the ingredients for the marinade and blend until a thick paste is formed.
- Score the Skin with 3 slits across the skin of the chicken. Rub the marinade into the thighs and cover well. Place in a bowl and leave to marinade for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200C or 180C Fan 0r 400F or Gas 6
- Place the chicken skin side up in a roasting tray and place in the centre of the oven. Roast for 45-50 minutes until cooked through.
- Serve garnished with spring onions, lime wedges, and pineapple salsa.