Two Ways to Jerk a Jamaican Chicken


Jamaican Chicken Jerk


I like to cook and have collected recipes for over thirty years. Before we left to go cruising, I spent two months furiously typing them into my computer cooking program, because on a boat I knew I wasn’t going to have the luxury of files and files of recipes. I couldn’t type them all in, that would have taken years, but I copied over all the ones that looked appropriate, all the ones I could do up on the boat without too much trouble, especially the ones I could do on the barbecue that hangs off the back.

My husband, having grown up on a diet of Tex-Mex, likes his food hot. The hotter the better, so when he tasted his first Jamaican Jerk, when we are on one of those two week all inclusive holidays in beautiful Montego Bay many years ago, he called the waitress over and said that there was only one thing wrong with the chicken.

“What?”

“It’s not hot enough,” Dub said.

“Some people have noticed that,” the waitress said thoughtfully, “but we cater to tourists mostly, so we do the best we can.”

I thought the chicken tasted just fine though and I asked for the recipe. The waitress scurried to the kitchen and came back with the largest, darkest man I had ever met. He was glad I liked the chicken and gladly gave me the recipe.

“But if your husband there wants something hot, I can give you a jerk recipe that will make his blue eyes water.”

“Please do,” I said and he did.

I’ve done Jamaican Jerk tons of times over the last fifteen years and have modified both recipes to make them my own, but that big man’s touch is still in there. I like my Tasty version, Dub likes the Hot and Spicy. 


Captain Katie’s Tasty Jamaican Jerk Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoon dijon mustar  seeded and chopped jalapeño to taste
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
2 cubes chicken bullion
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/5 teaspoon dried thyme leaves


In a large baggie, combine all the ingredients except the chicken.  Add the chicken, coating well with marinade. Seal the baggie; marinate in refrigerator for at least four ours, overnight is better. Prepare the outdoor grill or preheat broiler.  Remove the chicken from marinade; pour the marinade into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Grill or broil chicken for 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally and basting frequently with marinade. Serve hot.


Captain Katie’s Spicy Hot Jamaican Jerk Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 clove minced garlic
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced green pepper


In a large baggie, combine all the ingredients except the chicken. Add the chicken, coating well with marinade. Seal the baggie; marinate in refrigerator for at least four ours, overnight is better. Prepare the outdoor grill or preheat broiler.  Remove the chicken from marinade. Grill or broil chicken for 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Serve hot.

The first recipe is more heart smart than the second as it calls for water and lime juice instead of vegetable oil and it’s a lot easier to whip up the marinade as there are not so many ingredient. Also you may notice that in the second recipe I don’t call for heating up the marinade and basting the chicken while you grill it. I’ve tried it, but the vegetable oil tends to spatter and it didn’t really make any difference to the taste, maybe because the second recipe is so dog gone hot.

You can experiment with the recipes and come up with a combination that suits your taste. If you want to try the Spicy Hot recipe, but you don’t want to burn your lips off, you can halve the chili powder, the red and black pepper and you can cut out the cayenne altogether. It’ll still be nice and spicy.

I like to balance of the spicy taste with a tangy, fruity balance so I generally serve it with a salsa made of tomatoes, pineapple and papaya.


Captain Katie’s Caribbean Salsa

2 medium tomatoes
1 cup diced pineapple
1 cup diced papaya
1 small minced jalape–o chili
1/3 cup chopped green onion
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro (or shadow benny)
juice of 1 lemon (or lime)
1/4 teaspoon salt


Blanch the tomatoes in a saucepan of boiling water for 2O seconds. Then transfer them to a bowl of cold water using a slotted spoon. Drain. Peel off the skin using a small sharp knife. Seed and dice the tomatoes. Then transfer them to a large bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients and toss gently. Let the salsa stand for 3 hours before serving. Makes about 3 cups.

I used to serve the salsa on the side with some kind of vegetable, usually green beans cooked with bacon because Dub likes them so much, but one day he spooned the salsa on top of the chicken and I was impressed with the presentation, which I only got to see for a few seconds before he wolfed it down. I tried it and the tastes just exploded in my mouth, so now I serve it that way all the time, it looks good and it really gets your taste buds hopping.

Next Month, “Three Ways to Dance the Gazpacho.” Till then, Happy sails and healthy eating to you. 



And here is still another photograph of Vesta driving Great White Wonder at sea.


Vesta on Great White Wonder 703


Here is Vesta aboard Great White Wonder in Trinidad. In this photograph, we’ve come into the Trinidad and Tobago Yacht Club to have some work down on the boat.


Ken and Vesta Wedding and Portrait Photography, 1250 Ralston Street, Reno, NV 89503
Phone: 775 393-9529