JA JERK CHICKEN
Following up on yesterdays post about the Kiln and Kitchen workshop in Jamaica– here are the chicken pics. You can see the Yabba pot for the rice and peas behind the kettle grill–both being prepared for cooking. I like to marinate the jerk chicken (or pork) in the jerk paste for at least 24 hours–sometimes even 48 (especially if I have a large shoulder of pork). My recipe is an extremely basic one which only includes the essential flavors of scallion, scotch bonnet pepper, pimento berry (allspice), garlic, thyme, black pepper and salt–all ground up together. But, this is a very personal choice. Formulas and styles of Jerk sauce abound in Jamaica and are coveted with great secrecy. Many years ago in the jerk pits of Boston Beach in Port Antonio–a guy shared a bottle that’d been in his family for 10 years (unrefrigerated) and added to yearly as if feeding a sourdough starter. The pepper and salt act to preserve the sauce which also contained cinnamon bark, ginger and even ground up fever bush.
The key is very slow smoking which I often do over indirect heat. And, after the meat has cooked and rested the whole lot gets hacked into pieces for serving, bones and all.
Extra sauces are served on the side with varying degrees of heat. Even the hard core Jamaican cooks who assisted me on this work shop agreed that this recipe is righteous and thankfully it earned me the ultimate cred with them too. Cold Red Stripe beer or the heavenly local grapefruit soda Ting washes down the whole spicy smokey meat like nothing else.
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