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.
- 3 – 4 lb whole chicken cut in 6 to 8 pieces
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp ground allspice 5 sm berries crushed
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
- 2 C. flour, optional see note below
- 1 whole Scotch bonnet pepper, for frying
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
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