When we traveled to Jamaica for one of our up coming shows, we were told that we have to try the Jamaican style Jerk chicken and pork. So we did and loved it. We actually got lessons from a top notch 5 star chef, a famous local Jerk Shop owner, and our taxi driver!!!!!
Most people agree that Jamaican jerk sauce is actually African since the origins of jerk pork can be traced back to the pre-slavery days of the Cormantee hunters of West Africa. When the British invaded Jamaica in 1655 the Spanish colonists fled, leaving behind a large number of African slaves. Rather than be re-enslaved by the British, they escaped into Jamaica’s mountainous regions where they mixed in with the local Taínos.
Though Jamaican jerk sauce certainly was derived from African ancestry, it is something that was adapted and modified over hundreds of years as various cultures added their influence. From the start, changes had to be made since the Cormantee slaves found themselves in new surroundings on the island of Jamaica and were forced to use what was available to them.
As a result, there was naturally a departure from some of the original spices used in jerk and new ingredients were added or substituted as necessary. One new addition to the recipe was the Scotch bonnet pepper, which is largely responsible for the heat found in Caribbean jerks. The Scotch bonnet is one of the hottest chile peppers around with a heat level similar to the habanero pepper.
The cooking technique of jerking, as well as the results it produces, has evolved over time from using pit fires to old oil barrel halves as the container of choice. Or a gas grill!!!!
¾cup packed light brown sugar
¾ cup ground allspice
¾ cup minced scallions
½ cup peanut or canola oil
⅓ cup ground black pepper
¼ cup kosher salt
¼ cup minced ginger
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp. ground cloves
8 cloves garlic, minced
3 Scotch bonnet or habanero chiles, stemmed and minced
2 3-4-lb. chickens, each quartered
1. Combine sugar, allspice, scallions, oil, pepper, salt, ginger, juice, soy sauce, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, garlic, and chiles in a bowl. Add chicken; toss to coat in jerk marinade. Cover with plastic wrap; chill at least 6 hours, or overnight.
2. Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium. Add chicken, skin side down; cook, turning once, until marinade forms a crust on the outside, about 8 minutes. Cover grill; continue cooking until cooked through, about 40 minutes. Make sure you keep an eye on the grill and have a Red Stripe in your hand