“Let the jerk sit on the meat at least 24 hours,” instructs Moodie. The acid from the lemon helps tenderize the meat, and a long marination time makes for super flavorful meat. “You can’t overdo it,” says Moodie.
Best way to eat jerk?
The spiciness of jerk can wake up palates fatigued from winter vegetables, roasts and braises. Liven things up with jerk-rubbed meats. For Moodie, however, the ultimate way to indulge in jerk is during the warmer months, outdoors with friends. After moving away from the beaches of Jamaica, Moodie spent summers at the coast with her family, where a lunchtime meal of jerk chicken was a daily affair. Her mother would bury the jerk chicken in the ground under hot coals in the morning, cook it for several hours, and it would be ready for lunch. “You unbury it, have all the sides ready, and sit around and eat—it’s all a part of street food culture in Jamaica.”
Not up for burying the bird?
You can make jerk chicken at home, no problem. At Marjorie, the staff mimics the traditional way of burying and roasting jerk-marinated meat by roasting it in the oven. “We cover it tightly and roast it on low heat, slowly, which doesn’t dry out the meat like a grill would.”
Image by Maria Billorou
Jerk chicken flatbread: black beans, Cotija cheese and Jamaican jerk chicken, topped with pineapple, habañero, cilantro and lime slaw
Donna’s Basic Jerk Spice Mix Recipe
¼ cup honey
¼ cup canola oil
2 Tablespoons brown sugar or raw sugar
1 Scotch bonnet pepper or habañero, split, deseeded
Juice of 1 lime
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground clove
½ teaspoon pimento
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
¼ medium-size onion
2 cloves garlic
1-2 scallions, roots removed, chopped
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
» In a food processor, add all ingredients and purée until smooth and paste-like. Store in sealed container in the refrigerator for as long as 1 month.
» To make jerk chicken, cut chicken into pieces and coat well with jerk. Refrigerate overnight, or for up to 48 hours. Grill or roast, as desired.