Just like most cooks, I have had a fried chicken recipe for ages. And I think we can all agree that fried chicken is pretty universal. I can’t think of a culture whose cuisine I have sampled or researched that did not have some version of a fried chicken recipe. Like so many other recipes I may try different recipes every now and then but my go to recipe is a Jamaican inspired version that you will find below. Still I never bothered to write a fried chicken recipe until August 2014. After I published my cookbook Nyammings: 88 authentic Caribbean recipes and a reader expressed disappointment that there was no Jamaican/ Caribbean fried chicken recipe included in the book.
And just what makes Jamaican style fried chicken different from the hundreds of other fried chicken recipes? I mean what exactly sets Jamaican fried chicken apart from American or Chinese style fried fowl? Wellll! as far as I could tell, Jamaican style fried chicken gets it’s unique flavor from the use of allspice (pimento) berrries in the seasoning. Whether your seasoning comes from the pantry or the pack allspice is a must for authentic Jamaican Fried Chicken. 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 C. flour, optional – see special note below
- 2 cloves garlic, for frying
- 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 salt, pepper, allspice and ginger. 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 cloves of garlic to hot oil.
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.
If using a deep fryer where chicken is completely covered by oil, fry each piece for 12 minutes. If you don’t own a fryer a 10” or larger cast iron skillet or a Dutch oven will do perfectly for this task.
To make gravy mix:
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.
Special notes: *The chicken can be fried with or without flour. Of the pictures in this recipe all only the chicken in the last one (with Rice& Peas) has been floured.
*You can substitute 2 TB Jamaican chicken seasoning for the (salt, black, pepper, all spice and ginger) if you wish. *You may also cut up and add the garlic and hot pepper to the marinade. You will get a stronger more authentic flavor by doing so. I add them to the oil when frying as a personal preference. If you suffer from heart burn, acid reflux or any other maladies triggered by hot peppers you may want to try this method for authentic flavor without the sufferation.