My Big Jerk (Chicken) Story
By Jeff Helfand
What do I know about cooking, recipes and organic ingredients? Not a lot but I’m learning fast! You see, up until last year I was much better known as an e-commerce industry specialist within the consumer electronics, automotive and sporting goods world.
Most recently I was working for Tesla and it was during this time that I met Jerry Tenenberg, cofounder of High Quality Organics. Jerry has been developing the world of organic spices and herbs since the 1970s. Through Raju Boligala (HQO cofounder & CEO) I learned HQO was readying to launch HQO Express. The vision to empower boutique food makers and artisan chef/restaurateurs to use globally grown organic spices made into safe and certified ingredients in the United States resonated with me. Indeed, this has been a fascinating introductory journey and being surrounded by people who really care about our farmer families, know them personally and genuinely believe in HQO’s mission has nourished my soul. I hope HQO Express conveys this meaning to you and makes your life and business better, as well.
In my digital travels to become a “spice guy”, I was reminded of a trip my wife and I took to Jamaica in the early 90’s, specifically eating at a roadside smokehouse in Montego Bay called The Pork Pit. We loaded up on their Jerk chicken. Two decades plus and I still remember how good it was!
So….I asked Jerry, “do you have a Jerk blend?” He said, of course…but like all chefs…the recipe is secret. Sure enough, a few days later, a stealthy blend of Jerk spice arrived in the mail. My wife and I took a big sniff and instantly were knocked out by the pungent sweet and spicy aroma. Well with great weather in hand for the weekend, I prepared my smoker with a fresh load of mesquite charcoal and got it to a consistent 250 degrees F and smoked/cooked it for over four hours.
To which we made a marinade to cover about four pounds of chicken:
A 1inch piece of freshly peeled Ginger
3 Cloves of peeled Garlic
A cup of rough chopped Scallions
3 Tablespoons of extra virgin Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons of Water
1/3 of a cup of Soy Sauce
1/8 of a cup of pickled Jalapenos peppers
The juice of 1 whole Key Lime
3 Tablespoons of Jerk Spice. See below for a simple Jerk seasoning using HQOX spices:
- 2.5 Tbsp organic sugar
- 2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoon organic pepper ground
- 1 teaspoon organic all spice ground
- 1 teaspoon organic cinnamon ground
- 1 teaspoon organic cumin seed ground
- 1.5 teaspoon organic garlic granules
- 1.5 teaspoon organic ginger ground
- 1.5 organic onion minced
- 1 teaspoon organic oregano
- 1.5 teaspoon organic paprika ground
- 1 teaspoon organic thyme leaves
- 1.5 organic chili ground
- .5 organic cayenne ground (+/- cayenne to head desired)
This spice mix makes 1/2 cup or enough meat for 8 lbs
Recipe per Lb of meat:
1/8 teaspoon per lb - mustard
1/2 teaspoon per lb - orange juice
1/2 teaspoon per lb - lemon juice
1 Tbsp. per lb - Spice mix
1 Tbsp. per lb - Oil
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and use as a rub on meat, or as marinade.
Throw all of the above into a blender/food processer and let it go crazy for a minute….
You should have a resulting liquid that smells and tastes much better than it looks.
Grab two freezer bags, divided and place your raw chicken into the bags. Pour in the greenish marinade and let the chicken soak overnight or whatever time permits. (If you can’t at least afford a couple of hours, shouldn’t you really be ordering pizza?)
When you chicken is properly marinated, put it on your smoker or grill and cook to a safe temperature (165 degrees F).
Pair your jerk chicken with some Caribbean influenced rice, beans or potatoes. Put on some flip flops and Reggae music.
Then, enjoy. Ya man!