While researching recipes for jerk chicken I found many people tend to add their own “other” ingredients, so I really wanted to get to the bottom of it all to experience this Jamaican comfort food for what it really is from the perspective of numerous Jamaican-based sources.
I have yet to successfully make jerk chicken from scratch so I constantly rely on two store-bought seasonings to achieve the next best option in the meantime. Both brands Jamaican Choice and Grace contain ingredients which stay true to the most authentic of recipes. Mild and hot versions are available. Walkerswood brand offers is a third best option but provides a bit of a grainy texture and seems more salty.
I learned that Jerk chicken has an amazing history tied to slavery and colonization. It utilizes a mix of native Jamaican and European ingredients, and the meat was originally cooked at such a low temperature so the low smoke level would conceal the Jamaicans’ whereabouts from European slave catchers. Furthermore, it was originally cooked in a pit in the ground using the smoked flavor from Pimento wood, native to Jamaica.
However, Pimento wood is not allowed out of the country and I can’t dig a fire pit any time soon, so a 14-inch charcoal grill on my balcony using hickory chips with will suffice.