Kwanzaa, a celebration of Black American heritage that connects traditions of Africa with customs among African Americans. It is observed from December 26th through January 1 and ends with “karamu,” a final feast that marks the coming of the new year. Karamu has traditionally included dishes from throughout the African diaspora, and Food and Wine magazine has gathered recipes from West Africa, the Caribbean, and the American South that offer tasty ways to celebrate the holiday. One of the most iconic dishes on the list is Jamaican Jerk Chicken.
The recipe for Jamaican Jerk Chicken recommended for a kwanzaa celebration was listed by the magazine as one of its 40 best recipes in 2018. While there are as many ways of preparing jerk chicken as there are cooks in Jamaica, most follow the basics in which the chicken receives a coating with a mix of seasonings that go heavy on spices and chiles and then cooked on a grill. The main feature of Jamaican Jerk Chicken is its spicy, smoky, and fragrant presentation. The recipe given in Food and Wine is from Paul Chung, an individual of Chinese-Jamaican descent who grew up in Jamaica and worked in the magazine’s mailroom. His recipe features onions, scallions, chiles, garlic, five-spice powder, allspice, thyme, nutmeg, salt, and pepper processed into a paste to which soy sauce and oil are added to make a marinade. The chicken is coated with the marinade, covered, and refrigerated overnight before cooking on the grill.
Other foods recommended by Food and Wine for a kwanzaa celebration include Chayote Squash and Gulf Shrimp Casserole; Southern Style Mac ‘n’ Cheese; Chicken Livers with Bacon, Watercress, and Dirty Rice; Mom’s Fried Catfish and Hot Sauce; Rosy Hibiscus-Gin Lowball; Coconut Chicken with Pickled Pepper Collards; Nigerian Clay Pot Chicken; Hoppin’ John with Turnips and Turnip Greens; Island Jollof Rice; Sage Fried Chicken; Sour Cream Poundcake; Okra Gumbo with Blue Crabs and Shrimp; Bourbon and Cider-Braised Jowl Bacon Steaks; Tropical Ambrosia; Black-Eyed Pea and Watercress Salad with Cornbread Croutons; Candied Sweet Potatoes; and Glazed Beef Shanks with Coffee and Peanuts.
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