Caribbean Jerk Chicken With Pineapple-Coconut Rice

The perfect dish has a flavor profile that is sweet, spicy, savory and smokey.

Caribbean food is spicy, full of flavor and often mixes sweet and salty. Caribbean jerk chicken has been marinated for hours in a spicy rub and can be overpowering on its own. However, if paired with a dish of soothing and sweet pineapple-coconut rice, anyone can tackle even the spiciest of jerk chickens.

What is Carribean Jerk Chicken and Pineapple-Coconut Rice?

Caribbean jerk chicken is a piece of chicken that has been grilled in the perfect jerk sauce. A jerk sauce typically consists of many spices, but the must-haves are allspice, thyme, scotch bonnet, brown sugar, cinnamon and a salty component such as chicken bouillon or soy sauce. This extensive list of spices in the sauce comes together to create a jerk marinade that is spicy, sweet and smokey at the same time.

As jerk chicken can be quite spicy, it’s often paired with a sweeter dish, like pineapple-coconut rice. Pineapple coconut rice is made by cooking rice in pineapple juice and coconut milk to achieve a creamy, sweet dish. Some variations call for the addition of cashews, fresh pineapple chunks, shredded coconut or fresh cilantro.

The Origins of Jerk Chicken

Jerk sauce is often associated with Jamaican cuisine, but it’s prevalent across the entire Carribean. The original jerk sauce has roots dating back to the mid-17th century. The word “jerk” is said to originate from “charqui” which is the Spanish word for dried meat.

In the 17th century, the British brought slaves to Jamaica for an increased output of coffee, sugar and cocoa exports. Some of the slaves escaped into the mountains and became known as the “Maroons.” The Maroons would gather the herbs and spices they had access to, to rub onto the wild boar they would hunt. This is believed to be the first interpretation of jerk seasoning.

How to Make Caribbean Jerk Chicken

An important aspect of Caribbean jerk chicken is the cooking process. Ideally, the chicken will be cooked on a grill to achieve a smokey flavor to the meat.

  1. Turn your sauce ingredients into a paste by combining all of them in a food processor.
  2. Rub salt and pepper into your chicken.
  3. Use a ziplock bag to mix the chicken and sauce together. Shake the bag around, so it covers all of the chicken. Allow the chicken to marinate in the fridge for a minimum of two hours but preferably overnight.
  4. Cook the chicken on a grill. Occasionally flip the meat, so the chicken gets blackened grill marks in some spots.
  5. Serve hot with a side dish. A recommended side dish is pineapple-coconut rice.

How to Make Pineapple-Coconut Rice

Pineapple-coconut rice is incredibly easy to make.

  1. Rinse your rice thoroughly.
  2. Add one can of light coconut milk and pineapple juice to your uncooked rice.
  3. Cook your rice with your typical preferred method (stovetop or in a rice cooker).
  4. Optional to add cashews, fresh pineapple chunks or shredded coconut to the rice. Mix ingredients together. Serve rice hot and topped with green onions or cilantro.

Recipe Interpretations

The flavors of Caribbean jerk chicken and pineapple-coconut rice complement each other very well. This recipe from Ambitious Kitchen simplifies the process by having the chicken and rice cook together.

This interpretation from Delicious Magazine pairs the pineapple with the chicken and adds kidney beans to the coconut rice.

And this recipe from Tastes Better From Scratch turns the dish into a rice bowl. The recipe has a base of coconut rice, served with Carribean jerk chicken, and a spicy and sweet pineapple sauce.

A dish like Caribbean jerk chicken with pineapple-coconut rice can sound overwhelming. However, this dish is quite simple to follow. It really only requires a food processor, grill and rice cooker. Although easy to cook, it’s an outstanding dish to serve that is guaranteed to impress any house guest.

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