There are a few recipes in my arsenal that are constantly evolving. Jamaican jerk happens to be one of them. My husband and I visited Jamaica on our honeymoon and three years later we still talk about this amazing jerk chicken we bought at a road sign stand. Cooked on an open spit in a thatch roofed tiki hut, it was served on a paper plate with no utensils. You didn’t need them. The chicken literally fell off the bone and was meant to be eaten with the fingers.
I have spent the last three years perfecting my recipe. Honestly, I don’t know that I will ever have it perfected. Last week I caught Tyler Florence’s episode on making the “Ultimate Jerk Chicken” ( I record his shows. Partly for the food. That and I may have a tiny little crush on Mr. Florence). He claimed to have an authentic jerk marinade. I’m proud to say many of the ingredients were similar to mine. However, there were a few items that I’m willing to give a try next time. That’s usually how my recipes evolve. I want to learn how to make something. I find three or four (or eight or nine) different variations, pull the stuff from them I like, and see what happens. It’s like the science experiments I used to have to come up with for my grade school science fairs – only a whole lot more fun than building an exploding volcano.
Here is the recipe as it stands now. I don’t just limit this recipe to chicken. I tried it last week on grilled pork tenderloins and it was tasty. If you are like me and can’t handle overly spicy foods, you may want to cut back on the Scotch Bonnet pepper. Oh, and be sure to wash your hands afterwards!
- ¾ tsp. allspice
- 1 tbsp. and ¾ tsp. salt
- 2-1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1-3/4 tsp. white sugar
- ½ tsp. chili powder
- ¼ tsp. ground cloves
- ⅛ tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1-3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¾ cup white vinegar
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 1 Scotch Bonnet pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 pork tenderloins
- In a medium bowl, combine first ten ingredients.
- In a separate bowl, combine oil, soy sauce, vinegar, juice, green onions and the pepper.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk until dry ingredients are well incorporated. Reserve ¾ cup of marinade.
- Pour remaining marinade into a large resealable plastic bag. Add pork to bag. Marinate pork for a minimum of one hour.
- Remove pork from bag and discard marinade. Grill over medium hot coals for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning halfway through cooking time, until juices run clear.
- Baste pork with reserved marinade.