I'm sure it will come as no surprise that the highlight for me is the food, anything and everything Caribbean is there from fiery curry goat (never called goat curry) to corn on the cob fresh from the barbecue glistening with melted butter. It was here that I discovered Jamaican jerk Chicken, the mixture of herbs, spices and chillies is just delicious and has become one of my favourite foods.
There are hundreds of different recipes for jerk chicken - there is no 'authentic' recipe - the ingredients can vary widely. What every recipe has in common is that they all contain Scotch bonnet chillies, thyme and allspice.
I've been experimenting with different recipes over the years, trying to find one that was just right, most of the recipes I have tried were bland, boring and a bit disappointing. Now at long last I think I have it, a recipe with just the right amount of heat that's flavourful and delicious.
flavour to the meat it also gives it it's characteristic charred blackened look. In Jamaica they would always use legs or thighs for this, they have much more flavour than breast meat and don't tend to dry out.Recipe:
You will need a pestle and mortar or a blender.
Ingredients for the marinade:
- 1 Tbsp each of salt, black peppercorns and allspice berries (sometimes called pimento berries)
- 1 Tsp ground cinnamon or half a cinnamon stick
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 Small white onion finely chopped
- 4 Scallions/spring onions chopped
- Chillies, what type you use is up to you it depends how hot you want it to be. I used two whole red chillies for a medium heat, in Jamaica Scotch bonnets would be used but be warned, they are very hot!
- The juice of 1 lemon or 2 limes
- 2 Tbsp of plain vegetable oil such as sunflower or rapeseed
- A large handful of fresh thyme woody stalks removed and chopped
- 5 Tbsp brown sugar
- You will also need 2lbs/1kg chicken legs or thighs
- Either in a pestle and mortar or in a blender grind the salt, peppercorns and allspice berries. They don't need to be ground to dust but try to get it quite fine.
- Now add the cinnamon and the bay leaves to the mix and grind these up too.
- Add the onion, the scallions and the chillies and really mash it up to a paste.
- Finally mix in the lemon or lime juice, oil, thyme and sugar. Stir everything together and that's the marinade done.
You can skin the chicken or leave the skin on for this recipe, it's up to you. I would suggest skinning it if you don't have much time to leave the chicken to marinate.
Put all the chicken in a large plastic box or a zip-lock plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken then really work it with your hands, you need to get the chicken really well coated and the marinade reall well rubbed in. Now leave it in the fridge for at least 4 hours but anything up to two days is good.
Ideaaly cook the chicken over a charcoal barbecue on a medium heat, other you can cook it in the oven at 180c/350f/gas 4 for about 1 hour, to get the charred skin flash it under a hot grill.
Traditionally served with rice and peas but potato wedges or salad are both good with this.