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Bloodroot’s Jamaican Jerk “Chicken”

The word “jerk” evolved from “charque,” Spanish for dried meat. It became “jerky” in English. Jamaica has been inhabited by Spanish, British, Dutch, French, East Indian, West African, Portuguese, Chinese, “Maroons,” as well as native Taínos, Arawaks and Siboney. Jamaican Rastafarians are, of course, vegetarians. We thank Carol Graham for her jerk making expertise.

Bloodroot’s Jamaican Jerk “Chicken”

Selma Miriam, Noel Furie, and Carol Graham
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Jamaican


For the marinade

  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 2 shallots, halved
  • 5 Jamaican (scotch bonnet type) chilies with stems removed
  • 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons ground allspice
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or 2 tablespoons tamari
  • 1 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • juice of 2 limes

For the rice and beans

  • 3/4 cup small red Salvadorian beans that have soaked for at least 4 hours or overnight
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 2 cups white rice
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 large spring of fresh thyme
  • 3-1/2 teaspoons salt (divided in two steps)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup water

For the "meats"

  • 2 pieces thinly sliced seitan (add 2 more to feed 4)
  • 2 pieces tofu, or soy "chicken" (add 2 more to feed 4)
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1 sprinkle allspice
  • 4 sweet potatoes (1/2 per person)


Make the marinade

  • Coarsely cut 1 bunch of scallions into a food processor; add shallots, halved; chilies with stems removed; ginger; garlic; fresh thyme leaves; allspice; dark brown sugar; soy sauce; salt and fresh ground pepper. Pulverize.
  • Add grapeseed oil, vinegar, and the juice of 2 limes. If mixture seems too thick, thin it with water or beer—preferably Jamaican Red Stripe. Refrigerate.

Make the rice and beans

  • Pick over and soak ¾ cup small red Salvadorian beans for at least 4 hours or overnight. Use a tablespoon olive oil to sauté garlic and scallions in a frying pan. Add white rice and stir well. When rice begins to be translucent, add contents of a can of coconut milk, a large spring of fresh thyme, salt, fresh ground black pepper and 1 cup of water. Cover, turn heat low and cook until rice is barely done.
  • Meanwhile, cook the beans separately in fresh water to cover and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt. When beans are done, add some of them (as many as you’d like) to the rice and complete cooking. Add salt and pepper as needed.
  • Marinate the jerk “meats”: (thinly sliced seitan, tofu, or soy “chicken”). Lay pieces out on a try and spoon the jerk marinate over them. (We plan on 2 pieces each of “chicken” per diner.) Reserve marinade to serve on the side. Refrigerate the “chicken” until it’s time to cook.
  • Bake 2 sweet potatoes —half per diner.
  • Briefly broil the “chicken.” Sprinkle them with salt and a little ground allspice. When crisp, serve with rice and beans garnished with a fresh spring of thyme, sweet potato and some extra marinade for those who like it hot!


Recipe published with permission from Selma Miriam and Noel Furie, owners of Bloodroot Vegetarian Restaurant and Feminist Bookstore in Bridgeport, CT.
Keyword Tofu, Vegetarian

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