So here’s the really juicy details about my Jamaican trip – the food! I confess that I’m a bit of a jerk chicken junkie. I happen to live in a neighbourhood with 2 places to get delish jerk chicken which is both wonderful and horrible. Wonderful because, well it’s jerk chicken. Horrible because every single time I go shopping to get healthy fruits and vegetables in the market I’m suckered in by the smell of the BBQ jerk. There’s literally a big BBQ on the street cooking chicken. What meat-eating human can resist that?!
So – when I went to Jamaica with my blogger gal pal Renee from Re:Creative I told her that I was making it my mission to have jerk chicken every day. I mean, what else would I do? I’m horrible at setting goals but that’s one goal that I set and achieved.
We stayed at the Hyatt Ziva resort (stunning!) and they had lots of great food options, most of which we tried, but there’s no question that our favourite hang out was the Jerk Shack on the beach. Every day I patiently waited until it was an acceptable time to start thinking about lunch and then headed over for my fix. Nothing fancy, just some BBQ jerk chicken with a serving of rice and peas, a Jamaican classic.
Needless to say we got to know the chefs well.
The one and only time that we strayed from the Jerk Shack was when we went day trippin’ on an off-resort adventure. But don’t worry! We still got our fix. We had our driver take us to his favourite local jerk spot, Scotchies. If you’re not familiar – that’s named after the mouth-on-fire scotch bonnet pepper which happens to be a popular ingredient in Jamaican dishes. You’ve been warned.
No frills here, just lotsa chicken being grilled over the open fire. My mouth was watering just watching this happen.That chicken was good! Be sure to stop by Scotchies if you book a trip to Montego Bay anytime soon. You will thank me.
Fast forward a week and it was nearly impossible to kick my jerk habit when I got back. I thought, what the heck, let me try to cook up some Jamaican memories in my own kitchen. I admit that I was a bit skeptical of myself – a) I don’t have a BBQ and even if I did it’s freeeeezing out, b) I don’t have patience, and c) I’m not Jamaican, not even close. I just told myself to shut up and went for it. Truthfully I kinda impressed myself with this one.
Did I mention that my neighbourhood also has a small Caribbean grocery mart? Yeah, that came in handy. So I did a little research (aka went on Pinterest) and combined a few recipes I found to come up with these.
No BBQ? No problem mon!
I recommend using bone-in whole chicken legs. This recipe yields about 3 cups so adjust accordingly based on how much chicken you want to make. Give yourself at least two hours for the meat to marinade or preferably overnight for even better results.
- 6 chicken legs
- 5 green onions
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 scotch bonnet peppers (or to taste)
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1 onion
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- * the meat should marinade for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight
- Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until it forms a sauce texture.
- Pour marinade over chicken in a ziplock bag and refrigerate for a min. 2 hours or preferably overnight.
- Remove chicken from marinade and place on foil lined baking pan. Reserve extra marinade and set aside.
- Cook chicken skin side up for 40 min (or until 90% cooked) at 375°. Broil for last 5-8 minutes to brown top.
- Heat extra marinade on stove top. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes (add water if necessary) then turn on low and simmer for 5-8 minutes. Serve on top or side of chicken.
Now you can’t have jerk chicken without some rice and peas and coleslaw to ease some of that burn. If you can handle the chicken part, these will be a piece of cake.
For the rice & peas, I followed this recipe from African Bites.
- ¼ cup canola oil (or canola)
- 2 garlic clove, minced
- ½ medium onion, diced
- 2 teaspoons creole spice
- 2 cups uncooked long grain rice
- 1 sprig fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 13.5 oz can (1¾ cups) coconut milk
- 15.5 oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 small bay leaves
- salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 3¼ cups chicken broth or water
- 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon (optional)
- 1 whole scotch bonnet pepper.
- 1 teaspoons paprika(optional)
- Wash rice until water runs clear. Drain water.
- Heat a saucepan with oil. Then add onions, garlic, thyme, and hot pepper, sauté for about a minute.
- Stir in rice to the pan, followed by beans for about 2 minutes, then add coconut milk, bay leaf, bouillon powder, creole spice, with 3 cups of water, bring to a boil reduce heat, and simmer until rice is cooked, about 20 minutes or more. Stir frequently from the sides to prevent burns , add more water if needed.
- Adjust for salt and pepper. Discard bay leaves You have to stir occasionally to be preventing any burns.
- Serve warm
- 1 bag of ready cut coleslaw
- 2 tablespoon sugar (white)
- 2 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon celery salt
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- fresh cracked black pepper
- Whisk together all ingredients other than coleslaw in a bowl until well combined.
- Add to coleslaw and mix well
Do I have your mouth watering yet? Or even better, do I have you itching to book a vacation to Jamaica?!?
If you’re looking for a bit of a healthier spin on a jerk recipe, check out Renee’s recipe for Jerk Shrimp with Quinoa & Peas. Same jerk heat with a little less guilt.
One of my favourite parts of traveling is trying the local food. Even if you’re staying a resort there’s always an opportunity to try something new and if you’re like me, it gets you itching to be creative in the kitchen at home. It’s a great way to relive some of your vacation memories. I know that I’ll be thinking about our awesome trip to Jamaica every time I whip up some of this jerk chicken. Ya mon.
You can visit my friends at Expedia.ca to help you with the vacation part and don’t forget to think about food when you’re picking a destination. I mean, priorities right?