Cornish Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas

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Cornish Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas

Cornish Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas

You’ll notice that I call this ‘Cornish Jerk Chicken’, but of course I do so with a nod to my favourite country in the world, Jamaica. Over in JamRock I was taught by a chef how to make the perfect jerk and since then I have added my own twists to it too. I always previously thought Jerk was a wet rub but in fact, it’s best if you create a dry rub, as they do in the Caribbean.

I love heat, as you may have gathered looking through recipes on here, and I also like to grow my own chillies, so if you’re ever invited for a BBQ at mine, be prepared for a dish that sings of fiiiirrrrreeee!

And of course, no jerk recipe is complete without rice and peas. But in Jamaica, they don’t tend to crack out the minty garden peas from the freezer, instead preferring to use ‘beans’. Beans certainly add more flavour and bite and help break up a starchy rice, but it’s up to you how far you want to go with keeping to the original Jamaican origins of the dish…

P.S If you want to speed up the making of this dish, we sell our own brand of Jerk Rub here at Bumblebee Cottage!

Preparation time
Cooking time

Chicken Pieces; either breat, or bone sections; drumstick, breast, leg etc
Chilli (fresh or dried)
Pimiento Pepper
Basmati Rice
Kidney Beans (dried or tinned)

Jerk Chicken in Jamaica is a streetfood. As you leave the airports and travel around the perimeter of the island, you’ll see brightly coloured rickety building after wooden building of ‘Jerk Shacks’. In fact, I was so influenced by these brightly covered inviting shacks, that I built my own one in my garden at home which serves as a bar in the summer months for guests we may have around!

I’ve always been served the meat in tin foil in Jamaica and the big difference between the Caribbean street food way of preparing and the rather more refined, or possibly boring way that we serve in blighty, is how they butcher the meat. We go for clean cuts over here, everything jointed. In Jamaica, they just go at the chicken with a machete’, so you won’t necessarily end up with any particular one cut of meat and you get used to eating bits of bone and spitting them out or nibbling away off the bone instead. It makes no difference, it’s one of my favourite foods in the whole world, especially when eaten outdoors to the sound of Bob Marley and a slight whiff or organic material burning….Oh, and the Jamicans also like to add a sauce to go with their’s too, as if the jerk seasoning itself isn’t spicey enough. Personally, I like to go for a VERY strong chilli sauce to accompany my jerk, but each to their own.

Anyway, I digress (too many happy memories in Jamaica!) Start by making your jerk seasoning. There are again no quantities mentioned here as it’s purely down to taste. But, as a minimum, chop 2 or 3 garlic cloves, some ginger, crush some peppercorns, add some fresh herbs and as many chopped up fiery chillies as you are comfortable with (Scotch Bonnet are traditional).

Add these all together and chop really fine and pulverize in a pestal and mortar so the flavours of the chillies and peppercorns really become apparant. If you are sensitive, you may want to wear goggles for this as the smell can be quite strong, and trust me when I say you REALLY want to thoroughly wash your hands after making this sauce before touching ANY part of your body. Men – you won’t know what agony is until you realise you didn’t wash your hands enough after this recipe….

Once the dry mix is made, tip into a bowl and add the chicken. Again, I prefer skin off but in Jamaica they mostly cook with skins on. It will crisp up nice with skins on a BBQ and a naked flame method of cooking is definately my suggestion for this dish.

Rub the mix into all the nooks and crevices of the chicken and allow to chill in the fridge for ideally an hour or two. When ready to cook, remove from the fridge and cook under or over a naked flame ideally: gas grill, konro or outdoor BBQ. If you only have an electric grill, you can add some charring at the end with a blow torch. Depending on the joints used and method of cooking, the chicken could be ready in 15-35 minutes. As always, aire on the side of caution with Chicken.

For the rice and peas. I use dried beans. They are FAR cheaper and I buy huge packets of these from my favourite Asian supermarket in Crawley, once or twice a year. You will need to SOAK YOUR KIDNEY BEANS OVERNIGHT. If you don’t, you could poison yourself. So, if you want to create this dish quickly and forgot to soak, or don’t have access to dried beans, a tin of presoaked kidney beans will be absolutely fine to use instead!

Cook the rice as normal…I use brown basmati for health reasons but traditional basmati will probably yield better results. Drain your beans and add to the rice towards the end of cooking. Again, in Jamica, a favourite for them is to cook the rice down in coconut milk….it certainly gives an authentic caribbean flavour.

To serve, eat the jerk with your fingers and have a serviette at the ready as you’ll make a mess. And if you’re brave enough….pour on the hot chilli sauce!

The best way, bar none, to cook jerk is on a naked flame – BBQ is best. It’s how the dish was designed to be enjoyed.

Feel free to mix up the ingredients too. I’ve spoken to some Jamaicans who won’t use ginger, and others that swear by it. Don’t be tempted to go for a wet ‘sauce’ jerk, it’ll flavour chicken but you’ll never get the same results, and it’s akin to having traditional fish and chips in breadcrumbs instead of batter. It’s not on.

And for the rice…again, mix it up. I rarely use the coconut milk but do like saffron fried rice with beans, mushroom fried rice, and even egg fried rice if I’ve a couple of eggs hanging about…

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