I can’t begin to imagine the amount of fried chicken I have prepared over the course of my career. So much so that even as I racked my brain for recipes to include in my first cookbook Nyammings: 88 Authentic Caribbean Recipes, fried chicken never even crossed my mind. Frying chicken had became automatic. Besides, fried chicken is such a common food it never occurred to me that some folks might identify a particular preparation with one culture or another.
Then. About a month after I published the book, I asked for feedback on social media and was called out my a loyal customer for not putting a Jamaican fried chicken recipe in the book. So I set about remedying that. And that is how the recipe below and most of the pictures here came to be.
What exactly makes Jamaican style fried chicken Jamaican anyway? I mean there’s no American or Chinese style fried fowl is there?
But I digress… Jamaican style fried chicken gets it’s unique flavor from the use of allspice (pimento) berries in the seasoning. Pimento gives a strong, flavorful, aromatic taste to meats. Whether your seasoning comes from the pantry or the pack allspice is a must for authentic Jamaican Fried Chicken and most other meats we cook. The pimento tree is native to Jamaica so it all makes sense when you think about it.
Wash chicken in vinegar and cold water. Drain water from chicken. Transfer chicken to a clean dry bowl. Mix chicken with all ingredients except flour, hot pepper and oil. Marinate for 2 – 24 hours in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to cook; Remove chicken from refrigerator. Stir chicken well. Roll each piece of chicken in flour until well coated and place on a flat plate. Heat oil in pan over med – high heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Add whole pepper to the oil. pierce with a fork if you want it to be spicy.
Place chicken side-by- side in pan and reduce heat to medium. Fry chicken for 8 to 10 minutes before turning. Fry until chicken is completely golden and crispy on all sides. Remove chicken from oil and drain on paper towel.
To make gravy
Combine 1 small onion (thinly sliced with 1TB leftover flour mixture and ½ C. water in a small saucepan. Stir well to form a paste stir in reserved chicken seasoning. Rinse bowl with a bit of water and add to saucepan. Place sauce pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Stir often to prevent lumps. Boil for about 7 minutes until gravy thickens. Add any combination of thyme, tomatoes, or garlic to the gravy for added flavor.)
substitute 2 TB Jamaican chicken seasoning for the salt, black, pepper, all spice and ginger
If using a deep fryer where chicken is completely covered by oil, fry each piece for 10 - 12 minutes
Note If you don’t own a fryer a 10” or larger cast iron skillet or a Dutch oven will do perfectly