Introduction: Deep Spectrum Jamaican Jerk Chicken (60+ Ingredients)

Picture of Deep Spectrum Jamaican Jerk Chicken (60+ Ingredients)

Jamaicajun mon! It's Scorched Earth Campaign Part 2, and this time its Jerk Chicken designed using my "Full Spectrum Jamaican Jerk Sauce Recipe Builder" formula table (see below). "Full Spectrum" would be to use the majority of the 37 formula ingredients, but here we're going to take it to the next level, and on into the "Deep Spectrum". Towards the end I'll show some variation examples, and the results from this Jerk Chicken will be used as a base ingredient for at least one more Instructable BBQ Contest entry (No-Dough-Needed 5 Meat & 5 Cheese 'Jamaicajun' BBQ Pizza comes to mind).

Jerk Chicken is some of the best stuff I've had. The sad part is, I hadn't known it existed until 2008. There's a reality of rampant poverty problems in Jamaica, but once you've tasted Jerk, you might ask yourself if many 'poor' Jamaicans might just enjoy a 'richer' life than most else. All in the eye of the beholder of course, but if I had to pick a place to be poor, based on food, Jamaica is where I'd get marooned.

The following year, after all of the economic meltdown mess, I began growing vegetables and things, especially peppers. I got up to several dozen different types just that first year. Soon I began figuring out how to cook everything I could, and began realizing that quality food is all about the variations of flavor. For example, I'd love to see some millionaire go out and try to find some chili better than one of my everyday batches that typically have 10+ different dried peppers, with 20+ different kinds of fresh peppers (for starters).

Soon I set about dabbling in the realm of Jamaican foods (Jamaican Curry is awesome too, the best in the world of curry powders I've tried). I had pretty good results using some basic recipes I had found, but it wasn't long that my "full spectrum" food philosophy demanded to run amok in this domain. So at some point 3 or 4 years ago I hand wrote out my original Jerk formula table. My goals were twofold: hammer down the most important ingredients and their ratios, and then see and utilize the entire spectrum of ingredients used by Jerk practitioners. The list below is the basic sort of list you'll find at place like Wikipedia, but in this excercize we're going way beyond that scope as you'll see.

Traditional Key Ingredients:
-Dried & Ground Allspice Berries (Pimenta dioica)
-Fresh Scotch Bonnet Peppers (Capsicum chinense)
-Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Other Important Ingredients:
-Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum)
-Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.)
-Garlic (Allium sativum)
-Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)
-Salt (Sodium Chloride)
-Scallions (Allium spp.)

Step 1: The Jamaican Jerk Sauce Recipe Engineering Table

Picture of The Jamaican Jerk Sauce Recipe Engineering Table

I originally designed this for my own use a few years ago. I was after having a firm grip on 'what makes Jerk', what the full spectrum of ingredients was, and where to start for making large batches.

The hand drawn version included shows this, and that chart served me well ever since. You can see it wasn't finished like the new polished version I completed for here. I wasn't concerned with minimum values obviously.

For this step the images should speak for themselves, so now it's time to out do my handy formula table to push the extent of the spectrum to its fullest...

Step 2: Ingredients: the Basics

Picture of Ingredients: the Basics

Traditional Key Ingredients:
-Dried & Ground Allspice Berries (Pimenta dioica)
-Fresh Scotch Bonnet Peppers (Capsicum chinense)
-Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

The Other 9 Important Ingredients (see table):
-Brown Sugar
-Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.)
-Garlic (Allium sativum)
-Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
-Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)
-Olive Oil
-Onions (Allium cepa)
-Salt (Sodium Chloride)
-Scallions (Allium spp.)

Interchangeable Ingredients:
-Molasses & Tamarind & Brown Sugar.
-White Vinegar & Apple Cider Vinegar & Jalapeno Vinegar (from pickled jalapeno's).
-Onions & Scallions, although the tops of bulb onion plants a better fit (they grow back).
-Garlic Products (fresh cloves, minced and powders) all give similar tastes, yet each gives distinction.
-Scotch Bonnet Peppers and any Habanero Peppers. C. chinense species peppers all tend to give the same  unique & potent 'Habanero' aroma, although each also have their own distinctions as well.

Mild Jerk Sauce:
Aji Pomo & Aji Cachucha peppers provide the Habanero flavor without all the heat!

Step 3: Ingredients: Full Spectrum

Picture of Ingredients: Full Spectrum


The images here better illustrate the full potential of the formula table, but we're about to embark into uncharted territory where many X's within the X's mark the spot...

Step 4: Ingredients: Deep Spectrum

Picture of Ingredients: Deep Spectrum

The Deep Spectrum goes like this: different end products of spice plants (fresh, dry, etc) as well as different species or cultivars (the world of peppers a great example) tend to give slightly different flavor profiles, so combining them aims to unlock the 'deep flavor spectrum' of each ingredient within any recipe. This is my interpretation of the concept of 'Flavor Harmonics' that came to mind when trying to describe this, which should be the proper science terminology for it. Typically, "harmonics" would be used to quantify and describe a 'complex tone' versus a 'flat tone', is one oversimplified way to look at it. This is much different than a stack of audio channels all playing out together as a 'tune', where here the tune is the entire recipe and the goal of the Deep Spectrum method is to deliberate deep flavor harmonicism of each of the recipe 'flavor channels' (core ingredient types). 

For example the first three images show Allspice powder, dry berries ready to be powdered, and fresh leaves picked just prior to use.

Next we have garlic powder, garlic sea salt, minced garlic and then two different cultivars of live garlic bulbs.

From there we have fresh picked green onions (scallions), homemade scallion leaf powder (the big bottle that isn't labelled), bulb onions (A. cepa), onion powder and last but not least, 2 different species of chives. I could have took this even further with different cultivars/species/colors of onions, not merely limited to Leeks, but I think I demonstrated the concept sufficiently.

Other examples of the Deep Spectrum methodology are to follow...

Step 5: Prep Time: Combining the Powders

Picture of Prep Time: Combining the Powders

Here I just added them in the order as found in the lineup.

IMPORTANT: When going Full Spectrum like this, you want to increase the ratios (loosely at least) of the key ingredients as they'll be muted by this broader array of potentially competing ingredients. Try to be mindful of your variations caused by your Deep Spectrum applicants.

More on balancing & repairing the core ratios to come...

Step 6: Prep Time: the Whole Spices

Picture of Prep Time: the Whole Spices

Grinder List:
Allspice Berry
Bay Leaf
Coriander Seed  Round
Indian White Pepper Seed
Rosemary
Thai White Pepper Seed
Yellow Mustard Seed

Looking at the formula table, many recipes called for "Cayenne Powder".  Now while 'Crushed Red Pepper' & Cayenne Powder were added, that wasn't nearly Deep Spectrum enough for this endeavor, so behold 11 different types of dried peppers. I can't seem to find the photos of the dry pepper prep, but it was simple, I just chopped them up with scissors into that bowl all together.

Dried Peppers List:
Aji Mirasol
Aji Panca
Anaheim
Byadgi (India)
Facing Heaven
Guajillo
India Round
Kashmiri
Pasilla
Mexican Missile

Add all into blender and set it right for the task (Ice Chopper setting on mine). I decided to soak this raw powder blend into the oil base, where the other powder blend went into the main blender slurry.

Note: The peppers here are all ideal for drying, and then for use in spices. They're also good for reconstituting by soaking for several hours. When you soak dry peppers they usually swell up to about 80% of their original flesh wall thickness. Now for this project I only went as far as Chopping & powdering these dry chili's for use in the Oil Base, but you should be able to count on there being slightly different flavor profiles you can utilize between the fresh, dry/powder and reconstituted variants of each of these.

Step 7: Prep Time: the Oil Base

Picture of Prep Time: the Oil Base

Oil List:
Butter
Chinese Chili Oil
Dates (Phoenix dactylifera) 'Deglet Noor'
Garlic , Minced
Olive Oil
Soy Sauce
Tamarind
Teriyaki Sauce
*Powdered Whole Spices (see previous step)

Photos #2 & #3 show the Tamarind and its cleaned results. There seems to be missing the photo of the soy sauce, but it went in there.

A general rule I prefer to follow with a grand from-scratch recipe project like this, is not to use spice blends, only raw spices & ingredients. However I decided to go with a scoop of this choice Chinese Chili Oil (sourced locally from a Vietnamese/Chinese Fusion restaurant). I suspect its made with, but not limited to, ground Thai Hot peppers. Even though I'm all about having this massive 'total ingredients used' number, I'll only be counting this as one ingredient. The other exception of this sort is the Jamaican Pineapple Soda I used later on in the second blender phase.

Once these items are all prepped just combine into the pan and let sit until its blender action time. When I was about there I set this cooking on slow. Before that the pan sat for about 24 hours, more than enough time for the raw elements of the freshly powdered spices to soak out into the oils.

Step 8: Prep Time: Fresh Scents & Sweet Tastes

Picture of Prep Time: Fresh Scents & Sweet Tastes

Bowl One:

Allspice (Pimenta dioica) leaves, Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis) leaves, Chives (Allium spp.), Cuban Oregano (Plectranthus amboinicus), Curry Plant (Helichrysum italicum), Jamaican Oregano (Lippia micromeria).

While none of the tables 19 examples called for oregano, I decided to use fresh plant matter from Cuban Oregano & Jamaican Oregano. These are both native to the islands in around Jamaica, and you can bet they get used by many a jerk cook in Jamaica. Curry Plant isn't native to Jamaica, but I've seen evidence of its cultivation there. After a taste test I decided it should be a safe fit for this project.

On another note, I've had the Bay and Allspice trees growing here for about a year, but until I started this I hadn't gotten a chance to taste either. They both smell and taste great, and I suspect the fresh leaf the preferred version to use by many jerk cooks, but outside of where a live specimen can be grasped its the dried berries / powder for everyone else. For this Deep Spectrum project I used the fresh leaf, whole dry berry and berry powder forms of Allspice. Next time I intend to try drying some leaves and see if I can reach deeper with the addition of that form.

The Curry Plant & Jamaican Oregano I didn't think to use until later, but this is where they belonged so the images are here. The last live plant image I included is of my Tamarind tree, although I didn't use the live plant in this I did use Tamarind fruit pods (see Oil Base), but this is what live tree foliage looks like.

Bowl 2: Scallions

Here I used all the ones I had growing and ready. With this plant type, or any onions pants for that matter, you can take pruners and chop the above ground green portions and as long as you don't cut into the below ground portions they grow back fine. Another ay to look at it is to buy green onions from the grocery, but cut off the approx. 3/4" white portion, and plant them. Viola perennial perpetual harvest scallions. You see the stores have to sell them whole for them to survive to your table, but I'm afraid most people expect that we're 'supposed to' use that part for cooking. Not quite.

Bowl 3: Garlic & Onions

Pretty self explanatory. I used 2 different garlic cultivar, but only used Yellow Onions. Of course different onions often have slightly different tastes so you can go much further into developing the deep onion spectrum in your cooking.

Bowl 4: Fruit

Pineapple, Lemons, Limes. I was cropping out the full citrus innards, but after several of these settled for squeezing out the juices.

Step 9: Prep Time: the Peppers

Picture of Prep Time: the Peppers

For this project I went with three main hot peppers, but used Aji Cachucha for the base 'paste' (Blender Stage 1) used for all four variants. 

The Mild Pepper:
The Aji Cachucha (Capsicum Chinense) chili is a mild Habanero relative that provides a lot of the typical 'habanero flavor' found in all members of the species. 

The Hot Peppers:
Yellow 7 Pot (C.Chinense) [Over 1.5 Million Scoville Heat Units)
Yellow Scotch Bonnet (C.Chinense) [Over .5 Million Scoville Heat Units)
Yellow Trinidad Moruga (C.Chinense) [Over 1 Million Scoville Heat Units)

Step 10: Blender Stage 1

Picture of Blender Stage 1

Now when most all the different sets of ingredients were about prepped I set the oil base on medium heat and tidied up. 

Using the chart, vinegar (Apple Cider or White) is an important ingredient. It's not even about taste, its mostly about preservation as in 'canning'. Instead of using just white vinegar for mere acidity, or using apple cider vinegar to also get taste (which to me is awful), instead I'd try another approach: Pickled Jalapeño Vinegar Juice. Mt. Olive is my favorite brand being the only one that I've found that combines good taste, comes in glass and can be had in near gallon size. 

From there its all about loading your ingredients into the blender in an order that promotes smooth blender operation. Common sense and a little practice is that's needed here. 

Step 11: Is It Done Yet?

Picture of Is It Done Yet?

Taste test round 1. The results of Stage 1 left me with this thick paste. The blender being crammed to the brim complicated being able to make too many adjustments on the large scale, but without much concerns about that it was time for a taste test anyhow. 

The effect? Not bad, but it needed a little more work as I expected.

I left this base 'paste' out overnight to allow the flavors to enrichen...

Step 12: Blender Stages 2 & 3

Picture of Blender Stages 2 & 3

The first night while working on the base lot I was short on Thyme, which is one of the 2 most important spice ingredients. 

With the 'paste' complete, I now knew it'd need thinning. Water can be used for thinning, but I prefer to only use water splashed in as needed to lubricate the blending operation. The paste was surely way too thick. The goal for me is to get a product thats somewhat 'runny', but also sticky. Oils can work for this and work well, but the results of the Deep Spectrum this time after using plenty of oil had me think of another approach: Jamaican Pineapple Soda. 

Now I add in with it an entire pack of dried thyme, another fresh bay leaf, several more fresh allspice leaves and a mess of celery. 

I decided to go with celery in that amount, despite it only being called for in one instance in the table, as its part of the Cajun Holy Trinity. I also added another bulb onion to help that dynamic, so we ended up with a touch of Cajun fusion while cleaning up the Jerk zest in this step.


Now it was time to combine the results from the first 2 stages, divided into four, with three each getting one of the 3 super hot peppers.

Step 13: At Last

Picture of At Last

One scoop and some water splashed into that big bowl made for enough to about fill the big tray. 

Note how I peeled back the skin on each piece to work the jerk all into that added surface area. Then we Cajun powdered over about half of the meat.

After the chicken was done, I lifted the skin again to stuff some crumble Blue Cheese in there and served it right on top of the veggies the way I prefer to eat meats.

Because my grill needs some overhauling, if I don't fully wrap the chicken it will catch fire otherwise. Thing is on this batch I sealed them a little too well, and didn't allow it the juices to drain. This 'gravy boat' effect didn't ruin the meat, not at all, but it did extract most of the hot pepper oils making the results of the Scotch Bonnet based sauce into 'mild'. The gravy boat technique is one I like to employ with most meats, but didn't actually intend on this occasion. What's nice about it is when you have the meat submerged in the juice, and 'overcook it' just enough, you'll have the meat falling off the bones its so juicy and tender. 

I'm sure I'll have more photos and details to add in from this Deep Spectrum project, and have most of the 4 variants of Jerk leftover for all sorts of more fun.

I have more Jamaicajun Fusion recipes still to submit, already photo'd from all this work last week, so stayed tuned if you will as I intend to make it worth it. 

Comments

JodiMinneapolis (author)2013-07-13

http://youtu.be/YGt2-CCGjLY
Watch this video about Jerk from Culinary Institute

Very informative video.

But following the logic of that chef, essentially nobody outside of the Caribbean can enjoy 'real jerk', as the Allspice Tree's native range is quite limited. I suppose all the Jerk Hut restaurants ought to change their name. And all those Jamaicans in places like L.A. and NYC, they need to change their wording altogether except for when they get to go visit home for the holidays? I doubt that. If the only way to make 'Jerk' were to chop down the Allspice Trees to smoke with them, as a horticulturist I can hardly imagine how the island hasn't been clearcut into a desert by now by just the activities of the street food vendors alone. The way they present in that video, its as if their word for 'smoked' is 'jerk'. Nothing I've ever read has suggested such a case.

What they're really showing there is their Jerk Formula, which I now understand as a recipe is a list of ingredients while a formula is more about methodology using certain ingredients to achieve specific desired results.

I'll definitely be watching that video some more times, and have plenty more works left in both dry spice blends & wet sauce mixes from Cajun & Caribbean cuisines, amongst others, and do intend to learn about about the dry rub component. Now that I'm thinking of it, seems a given as the dry interface between the meat and the sauce will help it stick, at the very least.

JodiMinneapolis (author)2013-07-13

You need pimento wood to make authentic jerk

jessyratfink (author)2013-07-12

Whoa! This is nuts. :D
Never seen a recipe in table form!

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