Jerk Chicken Wings

Jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica, in which meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice, and then cooked over Pimento Wood.

The cuisine had its origins with the Taino, who developed the jerk method and later taught it to African slaves, who adapted it to create jerk chicken. The word jerk reportedly stems from the Spanish charqui, meaning dried strips of meat similar to the modern-day jerky.

I lived in the Cayman Islands for a long time. There was nothing better on a Friday or Saturday night after work than to go down Eastern Avenue for some Jerk chicken or pork and an ice-cold Heineken. There was no Social Media at the time, and we socialized face to face over good food and cold drinks. God Bless; the world was still ok then, in my opinion.

The local folks had converted old oil drums into grill/smokers and fired them up with pimento wood from Jamaica. The entire street would be lined with smoke spewing grills every weekend, street food at its finest. It was an experience to be had. The aroma was tantalizing and would draw everybody towards the magic fragrance of the West Indies.

Working in a kitchen with no view all day made it feel like it could be anywhere and less of living in the heart of the Caribbean. Still, once we hit the smoke-filled streets after work, it brought it all home, and we realized how special it all was. The shackles of work came off, and we embraced the light breeze of the trade winds and inhaled the occasional spice-saturated smoke cloud floating by.

And if jerk chicken or jerk pork was too spicy, or not your thing, there was always the "Champion House" at the end of Eastern Avenue. They stayed open until the wee hours of the morning and always had plenty of stewed oxtails, curried goat, Ackee and Saltfish to go around. Cowfoot and Salt Beef-and-Beans were my favorite.

I love Caribbean food. It's a great melting pot of so many cultures including the Native Americans. . ~ Bob Greeney


For Marinade:

6 ounces yellow onions, peeled and chunked

2 ounces Scotch Bonnet or habanero peppers, stems removed (or Habanero Peppers)

1 tablespoon minced ginger

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

1 cup distilled white vinegar

1 cup soy or light soy sauce

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1/2 cup sliced scallions

20 medium-sized chicken wings. Cleaned of any feathers.


Combine all ingredients for the marinade, except scallions in a blender, and blend until semi-smooth. Transfer marinade to a bowl and stir in scallions.

Clean wings of any remaining feather pieces, rinse, and pat dry. Place in a bowl or baking dish and completely cover with marinade. Mix to make sure wings are completely submerged in the marinade.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 375F˚

Remove wings from marinade and let drip off excess. Discard the remaining marinade. Do not reuse!

Line a half sheet pan or cookie with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on it. Spray cake rack with cooking spray or lightly brush with oil to prevent wings from sticking.

Place wings in a single layer on the rack and bake for about 30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165F˚.

Makes 4 to 5 servings


The Basics: "Keeping Green Vegetables Green"

We all have been there; we cook our beans, broccoli, asparagus, or any other green vegetables and they are bright green when they come out of the boiling water. Sometimes later, before you serve them, they look tired and have lost all the bright green color. The bright green has changed to greenish-brown. Not appealing at all. How do we change this? One word: Ice bath! Ok, two words.

Here is a tip to make your vegetables retain their color even after cooking; just cook your vegetables in boiling salted water for a few minutes. Don't overcook them, keep them al'dente or slightly undercooked in the center. Beans and asparagus should have a snap to them when broken in half.

Set up a large bowl or pot, large enough to hold a kitchen strainer, with plenty of ice water. Set strainer by itself on the other side of the sink. When vegetables are done cooking, pour them into the strainer and immediately place the strainer in ice water to stop the cooking process. Pull out the strainer and release water and repeat a few more times until vegetables are cool enough to stop the cooking process in the center. Now let drip off all water and you will have green vegetables for dinner.

If you don't have a bowl large enough to fit a strainer in, you can simply strain vegetables and transfer them straight into the ice water. Don't let them sit there for too long or they will get waterlogged.

Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.

~ Doug Larson

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