I visited Jamaica for the first time with my now husband 4 years ago. I did nothing but lounge by the pool and work on my tan, while steadily getting fatter by the day off of jerk chicken and peas and rice. While I was doing this, my husband was doing something athletic, like swimming or volleyball or some nonsense like that. After that trip I decided that jerk chicken had to be something I had easy access to, because going to Jamaica frequently for chicken wasn’t realistic.

My parents, who are ridiculous in the kitchen, worked together and played around to come up with a recipe.  Of course, my parents have a smoker, so I knew from the start that their chicken always tastes better than mine. But I digress…

I attempted to cook Jerk Chicken using their recipe for a bar-b-q Christina and I had in New York. Somehow I forgot I was in New York.  Christina and I purchased a small Weber grill and an air conditioner (no central air in NYC), excited about our cook out/cook in. We were imagining flipping chicken while drinking a cocktail and laughing innocently, delivering freshly grilled chicken to our smiling guests. Yeah right. Our landlord wouldn’t let us cook on the rooftop. Something about a fire hazard, burning down the building, blah, blah… so fine, I decided, I’d cook on the sidewalk. Small catch with this: no one in Astoria does this. I set up shop on the sidewalk outside of our building. I had a little seat, the grill, charcoal and matches, and figured I’d bring my fresh flowers to arrange them while I was waiting for the chicken to cook. This was a mess.

I had a little boy, a man and his wife, and two grown men asking me if I was selling the chicken and for how much. The chicken took forever to cook because the grill was so small. Two older ladies thought I was arranging flowers for sale. And did I mention it was blazing hot? At the end, I smelled like charcoal, jerk chicken and sweat. Nasty.

This is all before hosting 35 people in an apartment where the A/C was barely big enough to keep it cold. Long story short, after I cooked all the chicken, took a shower and had a cold glass of white wine, I re-warmed it in the oven. It was amazing with a side of potato salad to cool down the heat of the chicken. Try this recipe, and let me know what you think!

Dana’s Parent’s Jerk Chicken

Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 hot pepper finely chopped (green)

Wet Ingredients:

  • ½ cup scallions, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tbsp cider or white vinegar
  1. Powder all of the dry ingredients in a spice mill. Be careful when opening the mill that you do not inhale the dust – it hurts!!
  2. Use a food processor to combine all of the wet ingredients
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients
  4. Add chicken parts (thighs and legs do well) and marinate overnight
  5. Grill (or bake in the oven)