Everything You Need To Know About Jerk Chicken

There are multiple ways to prepare chicken. It can be fried, grilled and used for soups and salads. One of the more famous versions of this meat is jerk chicken northwest suburbs of Chicago. This dish stands out from the others because of its unique mix of spicy and sour flavors. Anyone new to jerk chicken can learn about its origins, preparation and how it applies to other meals.

Origins and History

Jerk chicken is an iconic part of Jamaican cuisine. The indigenous Taino people are the earliest individuals known to make this dish. They taught jerk cooking techniques to the African Maroons that settled on the island after evading enslavement from Spanish colonizers. They used these methods to turn undesirable slabs of meat into valuable, flavorful meals. The word “jerk” has its roots in Spanish and comes from the Peruvian word “charqui”, which describes dried strips of meat, much like beef jerky.

Ingredients and Preparation 

Cooks generally prepare this kind of chicken by marinating it with a specific flavoring overnight. The recipe for a modern jerk seasoning includes these key ingredients:

  • Pimento (allspice)
  • Scotch bonnet peppers
  • Ginger
  • Thyme
  • Garlic

Some people also use ingredients such as cinnamon and scallions in their jerk seasoning recipes. The meat is smoked over pimento wood and cooked over charcoal or in an oven.

General Applications 

Most people associate jerk seasoning with chicken, though it can also go on other meats like beef, pork, sausage and turkey. Though modern jerk dishes are served everywhere at any time, they are a staple in Jamaican Christmas. Jerk chicken is served alongside other meats such as goat, ox and ham, usually followed by the country’s take on Christmas cake. More casual versions of this dish are accompanied by plantains, rice with beans, garlic potatoes and mango salsa.

Jerk chicken is becoming more common outside of Jamaica and the Caribbean. Learning about its origins and traditional preparation can help people appreciate it better.