j.....is for

Following on again with Toni's A-Z, a...is for meme, today's letter is J

J....is for Jamaican Jerk Seasoning.

I found these recipes in a book I bought purely for the colourful illustrations and they have proved quite popular with the barbecuing men in the family.

This book had my heart from the moment I first saw it. I wandered through the rest of the bookstore, but I knew I wasn't leaving without it. Back in 1999.

Best title page ever!

Here are a few lines from the book, just to get your mouth watering before I post a couple of the recipes.

"Island Barbecue looks at barbecue in the Caribbean from the time Columbus arrived there to find the Amerindians cooking meat and fish on green wood racks over an open fire - boucan - and renamed it barbacoa, or barbecue."

"Jamaican jerk cooking......The word jerk has legitimate roots. "Jirk", the Old English translation for the Spanish charqui, described the Amerindian method of preserving beef (today's beef jerky), which in pre-Columbian times was sun dried."
"In current usage, jerk, which also underwent a spelling change, refers to the seasoning and cooking of meats, seafood, and vegetables, employing a marinade or rub with a chile pepper base - Scotch Bonnets to be really authentic. Scotch Bonnets are also known as Habaneros."

"Although jerk has a rabid following, there is confusion as to the word's etymology. Because jerk is a transitive verb, 'I jerked a leg of pork' is correct. Jerk can also be used as a noun, as in 'may I have another small piece of jerk, please?' And it is definitely used as an adjective in the phrase 'jerk seasoning' or in 'I could kill for a piece of jerk chicken', which describes the meat the subject craves."

Enough of that, let's have some recipes.

I just love the illustrations. If I had enough space I'd have them made into posters and decorate my kitchen.

Dry Jerk Seasonings are relatively new on the market and are hardly ever used in traditional jerk cooking in Jamaica.
It can be used in salads, soups and on any meats, fish or poultry, before or after cooking.

Dry Jerk Seasoning
1 teaspoon ground Jamaican pimento (allspice)
1 teaspoon chili powder or 1/2 teaspoon ground Scotch Bonnet pepper*
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch garlic powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients together, place in a jar and shake well. Close tightly and store. Will keep indefinitely in a tightly closed jar.
Yields about three tablespoons.

* substitute any hot pepper such as habaneros or jalapenos

Jerk Marinade
1 teaspoon ground Jamaican pimento (allspice)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions (green and white parts)
4 Scotch Bonnet peppers or 6 Jalapenos, (stems removed) cut in halves, retaining seeds
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon salt
pinch garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process on the blend or lequefy setting for 2 minutes.
Pour into a jar and refrigerate until ready for use. Jerk marinade will remain good indefinitely as long as it is kept covered and refrigerated.
Marinate poultry, fish and meat for 3 hours or overnight in the fridge, brushing on the marinade.
Recommended is 1 tablespoon of marinade per pound of meat.
(Adjust to personal taste.)

Now for an actual recipe:
(This recipe can take two days, you'll need to prepare)

Oven Jerked Chicken
2 chicken breasts, bone in, skin on, cut in halves
6 chicken thighs
6 chicken drumsticks
1/3 lime or lemon juice
2 tablespoons liquid hickory smoke or liquid pimento seasoning**
1/2 cup Jerk Marinade recipe

Preheat oven to 350F. (180C)
Wash chicken in lime or lemon juice in a large container.
Discard the juice and transfer chicken, without drying, to baking pans.
Place uncovered in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and pour off liquids.
(This is called degreasing)
Allow the chicken to cool at room temperature for about 10 minutes, then sprinkle liquid hickory smoke or liquid pimento seasoning over it.
Pour the jerk marinade over the chicken and completely brush each piece.
Cover with foil and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.
When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 425F (about 220C?)
After 5 minutes, place the covered pan(s) in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.
Lower the oven setting to 275F (about 150C?) and cook for another hour, occasionally basting the chicken with the pan juices.
Remove the foil and bake for another 3 minutes.
Take the pans from the oven and cool for 5 minutes.
Remove the chicken to a cutting board, reserving the pan juices.
With a sharp cleaver, chop the breasts into bite sized pieces, the thighs and drumsticks can also be chopped if they are large.
Place chopped chicken in a serving dish and pour pan juices over. Wait for about ten minutes for meat to reabsorb the juices before serving.

**Liquid pimento seasoning is available in gourmet stores and Caribbean markets throughout the US.
In Australia....maybe search gourmet stores such as David Jones Food Hall or search online for a source. Or just use liquid hickory smoke which is probably available at most specialty barbecue stores.

If you like hot and spicy barbecue, I'd recommend this book.
If you just like reading about hot and spicy barbecue and looking at fantastic colourful illustrations, I'd recommend this book.

If you'd like more recipes in the future, let me know.


  1. Oh yes I love the bright colour.

    Spice is a favourite, but that's a lot of trouble to cook a chicken.

  2. I'm a sucker for packaging ... I would have bought the book just for the cover & title page - but the recipes sound wonderful too!!

  3. You would make a real fine cooking teacher. A little zing. The recipes are inviting.

  4. Yum, jerk chicken is really good. Thanks for the recipes. (Maybe you could pick out one or two of your favorite pictures from that book to hang on your kitchen wall.)

  5. What a delightful recipe book. These days I only cook uncomplicated recipes so not for me but I am sure many would love to cook all of them.
    Another use for the work jerk: He is a real JERK!!"
    Thanks for sharing.

  6. R.H. it is a lot of trouble to go to, especially if you are just one person. Probably the type of thing done for large barbecue gatherings and other parties.

    Blossom; mine too, every time I leaf through the book.

    Red Nomad OZ; I actually DID buy the book just for the colourful cover and illustrations. I rarely cook with chili, but I could probably modify the recipes. I have a son who likes chili so hot steam comes out of his ears!

    Susan; I haven't tried chicken, when my son in law cooked from this we did baby back ribs that were finger licking good. Although my face burned hot for days after the chili. I have a kitchen wall area that might fit a couple of posters, or 4 if I make them small.

    Mimsie; it warms you up in the winter just by looking at the pages. I mostly cook uncomplicated recipes too now.

  7. What a great cover and illustrations. It would be worth having the book for those reasons alone.

  8. It does sound like a lot of trouble. Just the same I am pretty certain that the skinny person would like these recipes. Lots.
    I may have to consider making it for him. Thank you - I think.

  9. Andrew; that's exactly why I bought the book.

    Elephant's Child; Trouble is usually worth it if there is someone else to appreciate the effort. Perhaps you could adjust the recipe to suit two people, or freeze leftovers.

  10. Cool! I always wondered what 'jerk chicken' was as it features quite often on the UK show 'Come dine with me.' I'll have to try making it myself now.


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