Tuesday, July 25, 2006


"Jerk" is a speciality from Jamaica in the Caribbean. The origin of this dish can be traced back to the original natives of the island, the Arawak indians who seem to have created it first. Then, later on, the Maroons or runaway slaves had also added their touch to the original recipe.

There are many different theories regarding the term "jerk" which has to do with the process of spicing and grilling the meat. Some say that the word comes from the Spanish "charqui" (term for jerked or dried meat) or from the jerking and poking of the meat with a sharp object, thus producing holes which were filled with the spice preparation...

Traditionally, "jerk" was made with pork, but nowadays chicken, fish, tofu and even vegetables are used. In fact, there is an infinite variation of recipes and everyone will claim that their's is the one and only, but the truth is that all of them can be called "genuine" as long as they integrate the three following ingredients: scotch bonnet peppers, allspice and thyme.

Although my recipe doesn't really list any of the above mentionned ingredients (maybe in the ketchup), I feel that it is nonetheless authentic as it was adapted from Könemann's dense and mammoth-like cookbook dedicated to the cuisine Caribbean "Culinaria - The Caribbean: A Discovery" (all of their recipes are supposed to be authentic)... Of course, if you feel like adding those three ingredients, then that's up to you!

~ The chicken legs marinading... ~

This "Caribbean Jerk Chicken" is a delicious sample
of the flavors one can find in Jamaica. It is a spicy and perfectly perfumed sauce that brings tenderness to your meat. This dish is ideal for summer barbeques and will confer a holiday feeling to any of your meals or parties!

~Caribbean Jerk Chicken ~

2-4 Chicken legs or wings
1 White onion, finely chopped
A few chives, chopped
1 Clove garlic, crushed
1/4 Red chilli or 1/4 scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1-2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs Olive oil

Jerk sauce:
2 Medium white onions, chopped
4-5 Cloves garlic, chopped
4 Tbs Chopped fresh ginger
10 Tbs Ketchup
6oml Lime juice
2 Tbs Olive oil
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 Tsp Tamarind concentrate
1 Tbs Mild mustard
1/3 Tsp Ground allspice
1/4-1/2 Red chilli or 1/4-1/2 scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and chopped
60ml Rum
Salt, to taste

1. Process all the ingredients for the jerk sauce in a mixer until homogenously pureed. Set aside.
2. Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade.
3. Place the chicken legs/wings in the marinade and leave in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
4. In a frying pan, fry the chicken wings until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes per side.
5. Add the jerk sauce, lower the heat and simmer covered for about 30 minutes or until the legs are cooked and the sauce has thickened.

-Arawak women.-

Do not forget to turn the chicken legs/wings over while they are cooking in the sauce.
This dish can also be prepared differently. Instead of cooking the chicken together with the sauce, you can cook the sauce separately (bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes, set aside) and barbecue the chicken after having left it to marinate. Then use the sauce as accompaniment.
It is also possible to cook the chicken with the sauce in the oven (30 minutes at 190°C/375°F).
If you decide to have a barbecue, then other meats (beef especially) can be used.

Serving suggestions:
Eat this dish with Haitian "Djon Djon Rice" (see recipe) or any kind of long grain rice of your choice.

(Storm Over Birdgetown -Pic by Jonathan Wilson www.trekearth.com)
(Arawak Women -Pic by www.salvationic.org)


  1. What a great post - I particularly love the beach shot. Wouldn't it be perfect to be there now with all the heat we're having? Toronto is also in a muggy heat wave.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Glad you like Joan Nathan's cookbook. Some of my favorite recipes are Zingerman's mushroom and barley soup (when it's colder), North Shore Lick Your Fingers Kugel (unbelievable hit everytime I serve it)the 3 Moroccan salads - eggplant, red pepper and carrot, and Syrian Swiss Chard & Chick Peas to name a few.

    Have fun with them and enjoy the read - she's such a great writer.

  2. Ton Jerk est magnifique!
    Parole de jamaïcaine ;-)
    Rooo ça me donne trop envie d'en manger...

  3. Looks good. Wonder y is it called "jerk". :))

  4. Exactement le genre de plat que j'adore! :-)

  5. RUTH: Thanks for the kind comment, Ruth! I too would not mind being on this beach... We also had a terrible heatwave, but now it's a lot fresher. I hope that things change for you in Toronto as nothing's worse than muggy weather!

    Yes, I'm really happy with the Joan Nathan book and plan to try many different recipes as there are many interesting ones in this book! This autumn, I'll have to try the "Lick Your Fingers Kugel" as I believe it is fabulous...

    Thanks again and Regards,


    OOSHIGAL: Merci beaucoup! Et bien fais-en vite car c'est abso-lu-ment délicieux!!!

    PUSPHA: Thanks! Yes I also wonder why. It is called jerk either because of the special way of preparing the meat and cooking it, because of your bodies reaction when eating it or the word originates from the Arawak language... Choose your pick!

    PAZ: Many thanks, Paz!

    ROSA: It's never too hot for a good jerk, ha, ha, ha ;-)))!!!

    ELVIRA: Et tu as bien raison!

  6. This looks like an interesting recipe for Jerk Chicken, I can't imagine how it would work without the Jamaican staples of allspice and thyme though. At least it has the all-important scotch bonnet peppers!

    Nice pictures! I like the way you have scenic views and local art mixed in with the cooking shots.


  7. I LOVE those flavors!! I'd love this with rice or big hunk of bread to soak up all the sauce

  8. Interesting recipe. I love caribbean food and I really love jerk. I've never seen it prepared this way, however, and I've never seen it without allspice and thyme. I have to agree with the others that have emphasized the need for these ingredients.

    To me, the allspice is particularly crucial (while the thyme is debatable), since it's the key-note of pretty much every jerk I've ever had and just about every recipe I've ever come across. It's a bit like making Chicken Pesto without basil or garlic.

    Have you ever tried a recipe with the allspice and thyme included? I'm just curious if you prefer it this way or if you've just never tried it with the traditional ingredients.

    As a side, I believe that in Jamaica they cook the meat over fire on wooden planks from the allspice tree itself, imparting even more of that distinct depth of aroma and flavor. While I wouldn't suggest this trouble is necessary to produce viable jerk at home, I've never heard of simmering or braising it before. I usually grill mine and opt for over-roasting or broiling when a grill is not available.

    Whether or not this recipe qualifies as "jerk", it sounds delicious and I hope to give it a try some time soon. Tamarind is one of my favorite flavors, and I think it will go well with the lime, worcestershire (almost as hard to spell as it is to pronounce!) and the rum (which should be renamed "yum"!). The fruity-firey scotch bonnets can't hurt here, either!

  9. ANONYMOUS: Thanks! As a matter of fact, I made it with allspice, but forgot to add that crucial spice to the list...

    I have never tried the recipe with thyme, but I'm sure it tastes delicious with that herb.

    Yes, it is more traditional to grill the meat... As I have no BBQ, I cooked it this way!

    I hope you'll enjoy that recipe! And, yes, Tamarind, lime, worcestershire sauce and rum are delicious!

  10. Actually the method of cooking over wood and fire was from the native but not the ingredients and recipe