To be honest, this was pretty much the only reason I ever went to Notting Hill Carnival. I don’t do well in crowds, and massive police presences always make me nervous. Still though, jerk chicken. Yum yum yum. Well worth a bit of time on overcrowded public transport.
All quantities are approximate. This is not a recipe where exact measures are either necessary or desirable. While as a general rule it’s preferable to use freshly ground spices or freshly picked herbs, using whole nutmeg or cinnamon here strikes me as unnecessarily lavish. Like using Mouton Rothschild to make coq au vin; the extra quality just wouldn’t be noticeable enough in the finished dish to be worth the expense. But freshly ground black pepper is surely a given, no? If you have any of the powdered stuff in the house then perhaps it’s better if you just stop reading here and now. Anyway –
1/2 tbsp ground allspice (N.B This is not mixed spice. It is a separate thing all on its own)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
Big old bunch of thyme leaves (guess you could use dried, maybe 1/2 tbsp? But we’re obviously good in that respect)
1 tbsp brown sugar (the darker the better)
6 or so spring onions
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime (1/2 a lemon will do)
*We grew our own last year. Very good but quite hard to judge the heat; how strong each individual chili was seemed to be largely a matter of chance. You can use dried ones as in the photo above, which as with mass-produced stuff everywhere are at least more predictably consistent. Four is enough so that you can tell that they’re there, but my wife’s friend who ‘doesn’t like spicy food’ can still manage to eat. If you’re less encumbered by the constraints of marital diplomacy you’ll probably want to use more. Eight or so is generally good for me, seeds and all.
Whack it all in a blender. It seems to work better if I chop up the chilies and onions a bit before putting them in, and if I do all the ‘dry’ ingredients first, then add the soy sauce and lime juice.
This works really well with chicken with bones – legs and wings – and makes enough marinade for about a kilo of meat, give or take. Marinate the chicken in the jerk sauce for as long as you can. Lots of places recommend making sure to push it under the skin, but this always seems like a bit of a faff so I just score each piece a couple of times through the thickest part of the meat and let time do the rest.
Obviously the BBQ is the most fun way to cook these, but a grill will work as well, or even an oven (an hour or so at about 180. Wrap them in a loose foil envelope first) followed by finishing in a griddle/frying pan to blacken and crisp things up a bit.
Serve with Rice and Peas and beer cold enough to make your teeth ache. Unless like us you ran out of coconut milk and beer, in which case serve with whatever the hell you like. What am I, your mother?