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Jerk Chicken Thighs

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Jerk Chicken Thighs

Jerk Chicken Thighs

Hail up, it’s time for a Dan-tastic take on Jerk Chicken Thighs! Jerk Chicken is a classic Caribbean dish with a deep, and complex history. We used authentic Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning to respect the tradition of Jerk Chicken, and combine that with Dan-O’s Original to create this out of the world flavor. All while still honoring the culture and history of Jerk cooking.

The history of Jamaican Jerk, and what it means for something to be “Jerk”

Jerk is a hot topic in the culinary world with a lot of celebrity chefs and companies throwing their verison out there. Often to the dismay of Jamaicans. Jerk isn’t as simple as a seasoning, or specific food, Jerk is an enduring legacy of the fusion of African and  Taíno cultures and the enduring trauma of slavery. The Taíno, an Arawak people, were part of the Caribbean’s Indigenous population, and the first to call the island Xaymaca. Xaymaca translates roughly as “land of wood and water”. The Taíno people first came in contact with Europeans when Columbus arrived in 1494, followed by Spanish colonists who arrived 15 years later. 

The settlers’ settlement was small, and under-funded in comparison to other colonies. However the Spanish colony brought a few things to the island, things like slavery. Sometime in the mid 17th century, England and Spain were in the thick of war when the British invaded the island. The Spanish quickly abandoned the island for Cuba, and before England could dig their claws in, the enslaved population fled to the mountains. The now freed people were known as the Maroons, which stems from the Spanish word cimarrones that means mountaineers. 

Eventually the Maroons met the Taíno, who also sheltered in the mountains. By this time, 90% of the Taíno population had become extinct. Outside of the the mountains, the British were finally digging their claws in and started bringing in the transatlantic slave trade. The British’s slave labor, and trade, would lead to the booming sugar industry. But as enslaved people were brought to the island, that just meant more opportunities for them to escape. Over the years, the Maroons would blossom in population as the enslaved people would flee from plantations for the mountains. 

With the Maroons claiming freedom in the mountain, and their settling with the remaining Indigenous population, they began to share cultures and shared traditions. Among them was Jerk. Jerk refers to the way in which meat is seasoned, smoked, and grilled. Historically the seasoning calls for bird peppers, pimento, and pepper elder, but more modern takes include Scotch bonnet peppers, scallions, garlic, ginger, pimento, cinnamon, and thyme. 

Traditionally, the Maroons and Taíno would hunt wild boar. They would season the meat with pimento, salt, and bird peppers before wrapping it in pepper elder leaves, and cook it in an underground smokeless pit over green pimento wood positioned on dying embers. This smokeless pit was significant because the Maroons and Taíno had to cook without smoke because smoke would give away their location. Many believe it’s only Jerk Chicken, or any other meat, if it uses Jerk seasoning that is slow cooked or grilled over green pimento wood on burning coals. The Maroons developed these alliances with the Taíno, who in turn shared with them their culture, and methods to evade their enemies. An enduring legacy of the gift of strategy, and planning. To many, Jerk represents freedom.


  • 5 bone-in chicken thighs
  • ½ cup jerk seasoning
  • 2 tbsp ginger paste
  • Dan-O’s Original
  • ¼ cup Olive oil

Prep Time

1 hour

Cook Time

1 hour


  1. In a large bowl mix jerk seasoning, garlic paste, Olive oil, and Dan-O’s Original together and toss with chicken thighs. Refrigerate and let marinade for 1 hour.
  2. In a cast iron skillet and place chicken skin side up and cook 350 F for 1 hour
  3. Serve immediately and enjoy!
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4 Responses

  1. Your video states ‘ginger-paste’ (for our Jamaican jerk chicken), yet in your written recipe it states ‘garlic paste’. Which is the correct ingredient to use?

    1. Ginger paste. Dan gets his words minced sometimes. You could use ginger-garlic paste if you wanted, but we used ginger paste.

    1. Ginger, Dan gets words minced sometimes. However, you could use Ginger garlic paste if you want the best of both worlds. You can easily find it an ethnic grocery store, I get mine from a local Indian grocer.

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