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The Food Dude — Getting Grilled: Alijah’s Jerk Chicken

Alijah’s Jerk Chicken
Alijah’s Jerk Chicken - Terry Bursey

Hello again, dear readers, and welcome to this month’s edition of Getting Grilled!

Full disclosure, we’re coming at you all the way from Toronto, Ontario. I moved here recently to start a family after my girlfriend and I learned that we were expecting a little Bursey – and the ultrasound clinic here is where I met my new Jamaican friend, Alijah Parish. Alijah has a recipe for us that comes from our sister island way down way south.

Food Dude: Welcome to the show, Alijah.

Alijah Parish: It’s an honour to be here, I guess. Hello, Newfoundland!

FD: Enough pleasantries. Just what is jerk chicken? Because Alijah, I got to tell you, back home the name alone would give a very bad impression.

AP: Well, I know what you guy’s in Newfoundland would probably picture (laughs), but the “jerk” part actually comes from how it’s made, Bro – jerk is what Jamaicans call barbecue. It’s really just spiced and seasoned poultry cooked on a grill.

FD: What’s this jerk served with?

AP: I know where you’re head’s at. It’s served most of the time back home with beans or rice but here in Toronto, lots of us serve it with Canadian barbecue sides like potato salads and cold pasta.

FD: After trying it, I gotta say it’s amazing. It’s spicy and salty enough to create an awesome first impression, but the chicken flavours still remain and aren’t overpowered by the marinade. It’s also a safer marinade than we have back home that’s essentially just water and sugar, an unfortunate breeding ground for bacteria.

AP: I heard that too, that some fried chicken places still use bucket marinades for chicken out in Newfoundland — you guys must have strong stomachs! (Laughs). This jerk marinade though is both acidic and salty, which means bacteria are going to have a hard time multiplying in it and it’ll last longer. You can store chicken in jerk marinade for days on end in the fridge and it’ll only start to turn after about a week.

FD: That’s incredible! I’ve seen jerk chicken marinades online that have less spices and little to no salt, why do you suppose that is?

AP: Every family back home has their own recipe for jerk like a different a spice blend or different methods. My family always made ours hot and salty. I’d encourage anyone to try as many jerk recipes as they can to find the one that they like best. I personally like mine with no salt and a lot of cloves, but don’t tell me momma I said that or she’d lose her (sic) mind. (Laughs)

FD: How old is this family recipe?

AP: Man, I don’t know. It’s got to be at least six generations old because the book it’s written in back home is yellow and crumbling. The back pages are like another language, Bro, like old English, I swear.

Alijah took some time to show me a picture of his family cookbook and it really is ancient looking.

Without further ado, we present to you:

Alijah’s Jerk Chicken

6 green onions, diced

1 jalapeno pepper, minced

1 onion, diced

¾ cup soy sauce

½ cup vinegar

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 tbsp thyme, chopped

2 tbsp brown sugar

½ tsp cloves

½ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp allspice

1 ½ tbsp salt 

1 ½ lbs skinless chicken breast

Directions

Simply combine all ingredients aside from chicken in a food processor and mix on high for about 20 seconds. Cover each chicken breast in marinade and refrigerate in a medium bowl for 4 – 6 hours. Preheat grill on high, grease the grill lightly and cook chicken until juices run clear (about 9 minutes)

This has been Alijah Parish Getting Grilled, and your Food Dude serving him.


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