We’re just a week away from our Jamaican Pop-Up Event at Ezras Israel Congregation in Chicago! If you haven’t registered yet, here is the link! Since Rachel and I are cooking delicious Jamaican Caribbean food at this upcoming event, here’s a sneak peek at one of the menu items, jerk chicken.
What is Jerk Chicken? No, It’s Not Just a Steve Martin Movie
What is jerk you ask? (No, it is not your younger sibling or that mean kid from your middle school class) Jerk is a seasoning blend popular in Jamaica. It is heavy on the allspice (also know as pimento in Jamaica) and chili peppers. In Jamaica, they specifically use a very hot pepper known as the scotch bonnet. I call for cayenne and red pepper flake in my recipe as they are easier to get ahold of, but feel free to adjust to your heat tolerance. Of course my wife couldn’t resist getting her label maker out so everyone knows exactly what’s in the bottle.
Jerk seasoning is most often used on chicken. It can also be used on pork (for our gentile friends), seafood, or vegetables. In Jamaica, jerk is often cooked over pimento (AKA allspice) wood which could be hard to get your hands on. If you want to cook over wood and want something a little less exotic, I recommend mesquite. It has a strong smoke flavor so use it cautiously.
Outdoor Cooking Option
For my jerk chicken wings, I call for a two step cooking method in the the oven, first on a low heat to render out the fat and cook the chicken and then finishing the wings on a higher temperature to crisp up the skin. You could easily do this on a grill with a two zone set up where you bank all the coals to one side, starting with indirect heat and finishing directly over the fire.
Due to the heavy spice coating that also contains sugar, the wings will have a charred almost burnt appearance. Although not the prettiest to look at this is this is normal (and delicious), so please don’t worry.
Don’t forget the check out Rachel’s preview recipe for the pop up: Chayote Squash Slaw
A spicy Caribbean Classic
- 2 tbsp Allspice
- 2 tbsp Dried Thyme
- 2 tbsp Granulated Garlic
- 2 tbsp Granulated Onion
- 2 tbsp Kosher Salt
- 1 tbsp Black Pepper
- 1 tbsp Red Pepper Flake Adjust for your heat tolerance
- 1 tbsp Cayenne Adjust for your heat tolerance
- 2 tbsp Smoked Hot Paprika Adjust for your heat tolerance
- 2 tbsp Dried Parsley
- 1 tbsp Cinnamon
- 1 tbsp Clove
- 1 tbsp Nutmeg
- 1 tbsp Ground Ginger
- 1/2 Cup Jerk Seasoning
- 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
- 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
- 1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Lime Juice
- 12 Chicken Wings
- Non-stick Cooking spray
Combine all the jerk seasoning ingredients in a large bowl. Note that this will make more than you need for this recipe. Save the rest for future use.
To make the marinade, in a small sauce pot combine 1/2 cup of the jerk seasoning, lime juice, oil, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Place over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture comes together into a paste. Remove for the heat and allow to cool.
Add the chicken wings to a Ziplock bag along with the marinade. Place in the fridge for a minimum of three hours up to overnight.
Preheat your oven to 250°F. Place your cooling rack on sheet pan and spray the rack with cooking spray. Put the wings on the the rack and bake at 250°F for 30 minutes.
Increase the temperature to 450°F and continue to bake until the skin crisps up and the the spices starts to char. It will be fairly dark, and look almost burnt. Serve immediately.