Jerk chicken is a spicy dish that originated from Jamaica, and became popular throughout the world as immigrants brought their culture to new countries.
In this article, we will walk you through what jerk chicken is, and which side dishes will pair well with this flavorful meal.
What Is Jerk Chicken?
Jerk chicken is a popular Caribbean dish that uses a spicy dry rub to make the meat taste more flavorful.
Its name refers to a “charcoal-cooked savory dish from Jamaica”.
The word “jerk” comes from Jamaican patois that means “to burn.” This style of cooking was developed by slaves who wanted to preserve their food without salt, so they could sell it on the street after escaping slavery.
Jerk chicken has a spicy flavor and a very distinct aroma.
The seasoning recipe includes allspice berries, scotch bonnet peppers, thyme leaves, ginger root, garlic cloves and salt.
This combination gives the meat its signature sweet but hot taste that makes it so unique. It’s best to marinate the meat in this mixture for at least 24 hours before cooking it over an open flame with natural hardwood charcoal.
It’s usually served with rice and peas, plantains, or other sides like coleslaw and breadfruit.
One of the best parts about jerk chicken is that you can easily customize your meal with different side dishes to enjoy.
However, do you know what side dish is the perfect complement to your jerk chicken? Below are the list of important factors you might want to check out:
The texture of the food is important because if the food is too dry or too wet it can ruin an otherwise perfectly cooked piece of jerk chicken.
Opt for the basic options like rice and peas or fried plantains if you are not sure about what to choose because the dishes complement each other well so that they can create an amazing flavor profile on their own.
Considering what the spicy level you want your jerk chicken can also help you choose a good side dish accordingly.
If you are unsure about how spicy they want their side dish, then maybe try something like rice and beans, which provide a good balance between being slightly spicy but not overwhelming.
For those who prefer a hearty meal, they usually opt for side dishes to serve alongside their chicken so that they can give them a hearty meal such as rice and peas, dumplings or yams (sweet potatoes).
With people who love a light meal, veggies options like fried plantains, coleslaw or steam veggies will work the best.
When it comes to cooking the perfect side dish for your jerk chicken, you have some tough decisions to make.
You can either go with a traditional Jamaican side dish like rice and peas or plantains, or try something new.
For some more inspiration on what kind of side dishes would pair well with your jerk chicken, continue reading!
Fried Plantain Chips
One of the most popular flavor combinations is jerk chicken with fried plantain chips.
The two dishes complement each other well, as the spiciness of the jerky balances out the sweetness of the plantains.
Fried plantain chips are also an excellent alternative to french fries for those who want something healthier than deep-fried potatoes.
The trick to making good plantain chips is to fry them in oil that has been heated up enough for it to bubble but not smoke.
You should also make sure that the temperature stays constant while cooking the plantains since they will burn easily if left too long without flipping them over.
The result will be crispy and delicious!
Rice and peas
There are many dishes that can be served with the jerk chicken.
Another popular side dish is rice and peas, which is typically prepared with red kidney beans, pigeon peas or black-eyed peas, onions and garlic.
Curry roasted cauliflower
Cauliflower is a vegetable that can be used as an alternative to rice or potatoes.
The jerk chicken pairs well with curry roasted cauliflower because both have strong flavors that bring out each other’s best qualities.
Other options include yams (sweet potatoes), french fries, and steamed cabbage.
For those who don’t want to go for any of these choices there are always the staples such as breadfruit chips or potato salad which would both work well.
While there are many variations of this popular dish, one thing that remains constant is its ability to tantalize taste buds.
Whether you’re preparing it for yourself or looking to cook up something different for your family members, jerk chicken should be on the menu!
The best way to find a delicious side dish for your jerk chicken is by experimenting until you find something that suits both your taste buds and appetite! What is your favorite dish to accompany jerk chicken? Share in the comments below!