Spicy chicken for the people!
I’ve found that there is a lot of confusion around exactly what the term “jerk” means, so I’ll share with you what it means to me. Originally “jerk” or jerking was a method of preserving meat and fish prior to refrigeration in the western Caribbean. The basic foundation of jerk flavors stems from Scotch bonnet pepper, allspice, onion, lime, vinegar, and salt.
It never ceases to amaze me the effect of my Hot Chicken on people. I made a new friend with many decades of restaurant experience recently. We enjoy having a cup of his delicious coffee and talking about things of interest. He has his own recipe for Hot Chicken but is not serving it in his restaurant. He recognizes that Hot Chicken done right would require his hands on expertise at a time when he wants to ease toward retirement. But the flavor of Nashville Jerk caused him a momentary lapse of reason as he experienced the flood of endorphins rushing through his veins.
Why Nashville Jerk needs to be cooked outdoors or in a well-ventilated area! First of all jerk without sufficient habanero pepper is no good. “It tastes like dirt if it is not done right” the Jamaican lady whom I just finished discussing this with said. I knew the moment she said this that she really knew what she was talking about because I’ve been trying to reduce the habanero in an all-purpose version I’m developing for the stovetop. You must understand that in an enclosed area the capsaicin, which binds with fats, becomes a powerful respiratory irritant under high heat conditions.
Daddy taught me to cook when Mama threatened to quit work so that she could handle the kids and household too. Dad was having none of that and since Mama was also on strike over the trouble involved in cooking fried chicken, he tried to teach me. Now I agree with Mom that it’s messy and that hot splattering grease is painful but I have to side with Dad that sinking my teeth into some crispy fried chicken is well worth the pain and effort.
But it’s not a prohibition just a new way of reducing things to their least common denominator. So now instead of blending my spices in a liquid environment I’m making them drier using desiccated flavorings that are readily bindable to the fats being cooked. No matter how little fat that you use in a dish if there is a molecule present my dry jerk seasoning will flavor it with a kindly touch.
The only real question is do you want it hot or not?
First of all a friend married to an islander and living in South Florida while I was traveling to and from Venezuela gave me a jar of Jerk Sauce. I used it sparingly and I eventually taught myself how to cook with this foreign concoction. I’ll not share what my father said it looked like when I was first preparing some jerked pork chops for him but if you look at some Jerk sauce I think you’ll get the missing quote. Eventually and many teasing commentaries later I ran out.
Nashville Jerk has created a cookbook that features the award-winning spices. These recipes will cover a wide range of styles. Take a look at the first recipe .
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