In Jamaica, a jerk stand, piled high with smoldering, spicy meat, is always around the corner. The word jerk refers to a method of cooking as well as a combination of flavors: chicken, pork, or fish is smoked for hours, and it becomes deeply infused with seasonings and fall-off-the-bone tender. Since it's not realistic to replicate a jerk pit which generally includes smoking branches of pimento wood in one's backyard, we've come up with a home-cook-friendly recipe for chicken that's steeped in authentic flavor.
Jerking was originally a way for the Maroons (descendants of Jamaican slaves) to preserve wild pork, but it evolved into one of the island's most-loved recipes. In our marinade, we include classic jerk ingredients, such as scallions, thyme, garlic, chiles, and a big hit of allspice, the berries of the pimento tree. The flavor of the dish is complex, but the technique is not: The chicken can be cooked indoors or out grilling, though, is just the thing for a laid-back island feeling.
Cool off with icy glasses of rum punch or limeade (spiked or not), or cold beer from the Caribbean.