Magazine article Sunset

Jamaican Jerk Puts the Bite in Chicken, Pork

Magazine article Sunset

Jamaican Jerk Puts the Bite in Chicken, Pork

Article excerpt

It's a blend of tastes you won't forget

JAMAICANS FAVOR AN aromatic seasoning mix on grilled meat and fish that has such a kick you might think that's why it's called jerk. In reality, jerk seasonings were originally used to help preserve smoked meats. Although this role for jerk has declined, it's still popular for everyday use.

Jerk is interpreted many ways, but at its heart are black pepper, hot chilies, and fragrant spices and herbs ground to a paste. Foods are spread with the paste and grilled.

To balance the flavor impact, temper the jerk foods with pasta, fruit, and sweet-tart mixtures.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken with Spiced Fettuccine

Jerk seasoning paste (recipe follows)

4 boned and skinned chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 lb. total), rinsed and patted dry

2 cups regular-strength chicken broth

1/4 cup whipping cream

12 ounces dried fettuccine

Fresh cilantro sprigs

Lime wedges


Cover and chill 1 tablespoon jerk seasoning. Coat chicken breasts with remaining mixture. Cover and chill at least 20 minutes or up to 1 day.

In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan, mix reserved jerk seasoning, broth, and cream. Boil on high heat until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 10 minutes. If making ahead, reheat to use.

Place chicken on an oiled grill 4 to 6 inches above a solid bed of medium-hot coals (you can hold your hand at grill level only 3 to 4 seconds). Turn meat often until it is no longer pink in center of thickest part (cut to test), about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring about 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5- to 6-quart covered pan over high heat.

When chicken is done, transfer to a platter and keep warm. At once, add fettuccine to boiling water and cook, uncovered, until tender to bite, about 8 minutes. Drain well; return to pan and add jerk-seasoned broth. Mix pasta with 2 forks over medium heat until most of the broth is absorbed; also add juices drained from chicken. Spoon pasta onto plates and top with chicken. Garnish with cilantro; offer lime and salt to add to taste. Serves 4.

Per serving: 602 cal. (16 percent from fat); 53 g protein; 11 g fat (4.5 g sat.); 70 g carbo.; 165 mg sodium; 196 mg chol.

Jerk seasoning paste. In a blender or food processor, combine 1/4 cup firmly packed fresh cilantro, 3 tablespoons water, 3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger, 2 tablespoons black peppercorns, 1 tablespoon ground allspice, 1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar, 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried hot red chilies, 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander, and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg. …

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