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Jerk chicken

Jerk chicken

Native to Jamaica, the tradition of jerk chicken (or pork) began with the indigenous Taíno people who would cook their meat over fires made from the aromatic wood of the island’s allspice trees – still the only way, devotees claim, to get that really authentic flavour. Jerk’s distinctive seasoning – hot peppers, sweet allspice berries, thyme and ginger – however, is credited to the African slaves brought to the island by its Spanish and British colonisers, who also introduced the cooking pits which were traditionally used for jerk until the advent of the modern oil drum. The name, apparently, is the Spanish version of an Andean dialect word for dried meat, ch’arki – presumably because the original jerk would have been smoked to preserve it. To get more authentic jerk experience, add some wood chips to your barbecue and cook your chicken thight or legs over slow indirect heat for the best flavour. Alternatively enjoy a beautiful jerk chicken breast cooked over a high heat – it should be ready in 10 minutes or less.