Jerk Chicken

Ingredients:

6 – 8 Chicken Thighs

6 Green Onions (roughly chopped)

6 cloves of Garlic (peeled and smashed)

2 Jalapeno Peppers (seeds and stem removed)

2 Habaneros (seeds and stem removed)

1 1/2 – inch piece of Ginger (peeled and chopped)

1/3 cup fresh Lime Juice

1/4 cup Soy Sauce (reduced sodium)

2 tbsp Brown Sugar

1 tbsp fresh Thyme Leaves

1 tbsp fresh Parsley Leaves

1 tsp freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 tsp ground Allspice

1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground Nutmeg

Jerk Cooking

Jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica, in which meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice.

The art of jerking (or cooking with jerk spice) originated with Amerindians in Jamaica from the Arawak and Taíno tribes who intermingled with the Maroons.

The smoky taste of jerked meat is achieved using various cooking methods, including modern wood-burning ovens. The meat is normally chicken or pork, and the main ingredients of the spicy jerk marinade sauce are allspice[a] and Scotch bonnet peppers.  Jerk cooking is popular in Caribbean and West Indian diaspora communities throughout North America and Western Europe.

The word jerk is said to come from charqui, a Spanish term of Quechua origin for jerked or dried meat, which eventually became the word jerky in English.

The term jerk spice (also commonly known as Jamaican jerk spice) refers to a spice rub. The word jerk refers to the spice rub, wet marinade, and to the particular cooking technique. Jerk cooking has developed a global following, most notably in American, Canadian and Western European cosmopolitan urban centres.

History

Historians have evidence that jerked meat was first cooked by the indigenous Taíno.  During the invasion of Jamaica in 1655, the Spanish colonists freed their enslaved Africans who fled into the Jamaican countryside, intermingling with the remaining Taínos and becoming some of the first Jamaican Maroons.  It appears that these runaway slaves learned this practice from the Taíno.  It is speculated that the Taíno developed the style of cooking and seasoning. While all racial groups hunted the wild hog in the Jamaican interior and used the practice of jerk to cook it in the seventeenth century, by the end of the eighteenth century most groups had switched to imported pork products. Only the Maroons continued the practice of hunting wild hogs and jerking the pork.

Jamaican jerk sauce primarily developed from these Maroons, seasoning and slow cooking wild hogs over pimento wood, which was native to Jamaica at the time and is the most important ingredient in the taste; over the centuries it has been modified as various cultures added their influence.

From the start, the Maroons found themselves in new surroundings in the interior of Jamaica and were forced to use what was available to them.  As a result, they adapted to their surroundings and used herbs and spices available to them on the island such as Scotch bonnet pepper, which is largely responsible for the heat found in Caribbean jerks.

Jerk cooking and seasoning have followed the Caribbean diaspora all over the world, and forms of jerk can now be found at restaurants almost anywhere a significant population of Caribbean descent exists, such as the United Kingdom, Canada, or the United States.  Poulet boucané (or ‘smoked chicken’), a dish found in French Caribbean countries such as Martinique and Guadeloupe, is quite similar to traditional Jamaican jerk chicken.

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