I’m always amazed and impressed when I travel south in the winter, and I’ve done this many times, that besides the beautiful flowering bushes and endless blue sky, you can always count on great chicken. This winter I had the unusual pleasure of visiting Jamaica twice. The first time, for my brother’s wedding, where I and 46 other close family and friends, joyously celebrated for a week and enjoyed countless meals of jerk chicken. My children, who were also on this trip, enjoyed our daily trek to the grill restaurant where the big outdoor bbq’s bellowed with smoke and the scent of jerk spices wafted through the air. The scent and promise of tender grilled chicken was so enticing, that it was one of the few things other than the sun starting it’s nightly decent, that would remove us from the comforting, warm sun, beach and ocean. We would stand in line at the BBQ and wait our turn for this wonderful chicken. The cook would greet us and ask us if we wanted the chicken or the pork. We would always ask for the chicken and his response was always the same...no problem mon. We would then sit and savour our meal and repeat what had become routine the next day and so on.
My second trip wasn’t much different. More warm sun, beautiful beach, endless ocean, breathtaking sunsets, more jerk chicken and delicious, warm, perfectly spiced Jamaican chicken patties. We had a fabulous time on both trips. It was a great time to reacquaint ourselves with a sun we hadn’t really felt since September, close friends, family and loved ones. We brought home lots of great memories, a much more laid back, relaxed attitude and the scent of jerk spices still lingering in our noses.
You can bring a little Jamaica to your home by making this wonderful Jerk Chicken recipe from the Jamaican Tourist Board (visitjamaica.com). To really get your family in the mood, sprinkle a little sand on the kitchen floor and whip up some Jamaican rice and peas and papaya daiquiri’s (sans alcohol for the kids of course) to create a festive summer like feeling and have your own taste of Jamaica tonight. And remember...no problem mon!
Oven Jerk Chicken (courtesy of the Jamaican Tourist Board)
6 lbs (about 3 kg) chicken pieces
6 Tbsp (about 100 mL) green onion, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
12 allspice (pimento) seeds, crushed and finely chopped
1 small Scotch Bonnet (or Jalapeno) pepper
2 tsp (10 mL) brown sugar
½ tsp (2.5 mL) fresh ginger, finely chopped
3 Tbsp (about 50 mL) fresh thyme
½ tsp (2.5 mL) black pepper
1 Tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
1. Pat chicken dry with paper towels.
2. Mix all spices, green onion, onion, brown sugar, ginger and lemon juice together.
3. Coat chicken pieces with spice mix.
4. Cover and marinate for at least an hour in refrigerator.
5. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
6. Place chicken in shallow baking pan.
7. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).