Jerk Chicken

Martha Stewart Living, August 2005

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.

Try these recipes for Jerk Chicken, Jamaican Rice and Peas, Rum Punch, and Limeade.

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