An Island Opus | Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Matt Hayden
An Island Opus from Scratch Catering, Dayton Ohio

An Island Opus from Scratch Catering, Dayton Ohio

I imagine that when one mentions Jamaica, the minds of the masses gravitate towards the customary archetypes: Reggae Music and Rastafarians. A modicum of that gaggle may even be aware of the existence of Jamaica’s beloved  cuisine – JERK. With a casual amount of wiki-research, you can expose a great reservoir of world influences on Jamaican fare: It is an exotic quilt of flavors from numerous cultures ranging from indigenous Arawak and Spanish ala Christopher Columbus to British and Chinese. This opus of island flavors is primarily African with numerous other influences gathered over the years.  Undoubtedly Jerk began as an African dish, centered around the preservative process of salting meat – The term jerk is said to come from the word charqui, a Spanish term of Quechua origin for jerked or dried meat, which eventually became jerky in English. Needless to say, the modern version of this dish, Jerk Chicken is comforting in a way that BBQ Chicken is but with an exotic slant of Thyme, Allspice, Green Onions, Ginger and of course, Scotch Bonnet Peppers.  So with that said, here is some prepared for a friend’s holiday Christmas party – Marinated in a wet Jerk Rub, Grilled and then Roasted until falling off the bone.  Oh my.

Here is a basic Jerk Wet Rub recipe – you can put this on steaks, pork, chicken, fish, grilled veggies – practically anything.

1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
1 scotch bonnet, cut in half
2 tbsp chopped thyme / fresh is best bust dry will do
2 tsp ground allspice
11/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 cup  dark rum
1/4 cup soy sauce                                                                                                                                                                            1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree into a smooth, thick paste.