There’s nothing like comfort food to soothe the soul during stressful times. For New Yorkers stuck inside, most are craving jerk chicken as their quarantine comfort food, according to a new report from popular food delivery service Uber Eats.
Though restaurants in the city are still under lockdown for dine-in service, take-out options are still booming. And among the city’s smorgasbord of culinary delights, Jamaican jerk chicken has been the top ordered food item in April.
The spicy dish has long been a Big Apple staple thanks to the city’s large Caribbean immigration population. The city’s love of jerk is on display each year at the New York Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival, a popular annual event celebrating Caribbean food, music, and culture.
Although jerk chicken has its roots in Jamaica’s historic Maroon community, this spiced and grilled chicken recipe has become a popular dish across the Caribbean. The most traditional form is slowly cooked over pimento wood. But the classic jerk chicken owes much of its distinctive flavor to a blend of spices, notably including hot Scotch bonnet peppers.
Satisfy your own jerk chicken cravings with this easy at-home version — no delivery required.
Jamaican Jerk Chicken:
- One 3 1/2 lb chicken (3lb of chicken breasts may be used if preferred)
- 1 – 6 sliced scotch bonnet / jabanero peppers (the more peppers used, the hotter the sauce becomes so be careful!!!!)
- 2 tbsp thyme
- 2 tbsp ground allspice
- 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 medium onions, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- Juice of one lime
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 to 2 tsp of the following (to taste)
- Ground cinnamon
- Chop the onions, garlic and peppers. These do not need to be chopped too fine as they will be pulverized by the blender.
- Blend all of the seasonings and liquid in a blender to make the jerk sauce.
- Cut the raw chicken up in to 4 pieces.
- Set some sauce aside for basting and dipping later.
- Rub the remaining sauce in to the meat and leave the chicken in the fridge to marinate overnight.
- Grill the meat slowly until cooked, turning regularly. Baste with some of the remaining marinade while cooking. For best results, cook over a barbecue heated with pimento wood.OR
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, turn the meat then bake for a further 30 minutes.
- Chop each quarter chicken portion in to 5 or 6 smaller pieces using a heavy cleaver.
- Use a pair of tongs or other kitchen utensil to hold the chicken in place while chopping and NOT YOUR HAND (you will be chopping with enough pressure to cut through bone!!!)
- Serve with festivals, rice and peas, hardo bread or simple white rice, along with the jerk sauce left over for dipping. (Please check the site for recipes)
- Do not touch your eyes, face, mouth or sensitive areas with your hands after touching the peppers. They are EXTREMELY hot. One pepper in your mixture will offer an enjoyable, mild flavor. Go up to six if you’re really adventurous but NOT if you are offering the sauce to children.
Adapted from Jamaican Travel and Culture