I used almost the entire bottle of Chef Cunny’s Real Jamaican Jerk before I sat down and wrote the first word of this post. 3 cookings and 2 sets of pictures later here goes.
When a popular Jamaican Chef decides to distribute his own jerk marinade, there is bound to be a little pressure. When he is one of 2016’s top Jamaican Chefs the jerk better be good. From the first moment I read the description for Chef Cunny’s Real Jamaican Jerk marinade I was intrigued. According to the good chef I had a sample of his own “special blend smoky jerk marinade” awaiting me so you can understand my excitement.
Being a Chef who specializes in cooking and writing about Caribbean cuisine I have seen and tried a whole lotta jerk seasonings in my time. And let me tell you, some of them miss the mark by miles. I have also made no secret of the fact that I think (and much of the jerk chicken eating world agrees that) a certain other Jamaican brand is #1. But. There’s always #2 or 3
Before we get too deep allow me to explain:
Jerk describes the Jamaican process of spicing and grilling meat. Jerk seasoning/ marinade is a blend of scallions, thyme,allspice, peppers and other herbs and spices.
The first time I tried the marinade; someone else seasoned and cooked the chicken for me. I wanted to taste it from someone else’s perspective. I needed to experience this as a diner not as a chef. The result was a batch of well seasoned, flavor filled batch of jerk chicken. There was a nice hint of a smoky flavor. The flavors of thyme, scallion and allspice was apparent. All the things you’d expect to taste in good authentic Jamaican Jerk. Still there was something missing. I figured I didn’t season it so I gave the marinade an “excellent try” and moved on.
The 2nd time around I was more concerned with filling my belly so taking pictures or writing a post took a backseat. By the time I remembered about writing anything I was doing the dishes. The saying goes 3rd time’s a charm, or a strike out. Since this would be the last of Chef Cunny’s special blend I really wanted to give the jerk my full attention.
Chicken leg quarters were a must. Because quarters and halves are how chicken is traditionally served from streetside jerk pans in Jamaica and I wanted to maintain the artistic integrity. After letting the meat marinade for a few hours I popped it into the oven. Toward the end I placed the meat closer to the broiler and changed to oven setting to get a nice just grilled finish you’d expect from streetside Jamaican jerk. Hey! It’s winter and I’m in the northeastern US.
You’ve probably figured out by now that I really like this jerk. I don’t know what I was looking for besides smoke but I did find most of the things I expect from a good Jamaican jerk. Finally as I sat writing this article it came to me. The marinade was weak on spice. The allspice was present but it was weak and the scotch bonnet pepper lacked presence. Being that Scotch bonnet pepper is one of the signature ingredients in authentic Jamaican Jerk, I expected even a little tingle. All things considered this was a darn good jerk that has the potential to be great. Hopefully this is just the beginning of great things from Chef Noel’s kitchen.
Authentic Jamaican jerk is so much more than a seasoning made with hot pepper blended with herbs and spices. Derived from the Spanish word charqui; Jamaicans use the word jerk to describe the process of spicing, smoking and grilling meats over a pimento wood or coal fire.
10 minPrep Time
1 hrCook Time
1 hr, 10 Total Time
- 3lb chicken
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1tsp salt
- 1tsp black pepper
- 3 TB jerk seasoning
- ½ sm. onion, chopped
- Scotch Bonnet pepper, optional
Wash the chicken in vinegar cold water. Drain the waterfrom the chicken. Combine all ingredients in a deep bowl. Mix well to coat the chicken. Marinade chicken for 4 to 12 hours before cooking.
Grill as you normally would and enjoy! To make sauce for basting and serving; cook remaining seasoning with 1 C. water in a small saucepan, over medium heat for 10 minutes. Use sauce to baste the chicken
Arrange chicken in single layer in an oven safe container. Bake covered, in a 350° oven for 1 hour. Remove cover, baste chicken and place on top rack of oven for 15 minutes until chicken browns and begins to crisp.