Jamaican Jerk Chik’n Chili! The jerk spices take chili to a whole new level. It’s savory, spicy, earthy, and wonderfully flavorful.
Let me begin this post by sending out heartfelt prayers for all of the people who are experiencing the wrath of Hurricane Harvey. If I could deliver a pot of chili to the door of everyone who is affected by this storm I would. Stay safe, my friends.
And just like that (or so it seems) it’s chili season again. Football is back, kids have returned to school, and the musty (in the very best way) smell of fall is in the air. It’s a bittersweet time of the year for me. I love summer and all the things that go with it. I love the heat, freshly picked produce, going to outdoor concerts, backyard happy hours with friends, outdoor tennis, long walks with our pups, dining al fresco, and delicious balmy nights. I also love fall. The heartier food, the brilliant colors, pumpkin spice everything (have you tried these, or these?), comfortable running temperatures, crisp mornings and evenings, and college football, all of those things get my adrenalin flowing. But alas, autumn is followed by a loooong, cold winter in Chicago, and that is not something that I ever look forward to.
Thank goodness for chili! Without it, winter would be so much harder.
If you love chili as much as I do, you want to eat it weekly, or daily. Why not? However, like all things that you want to spend a lot of time with, you need to keep things interesting, so your favorite things don’t become mundane. That’s how I came up with the idea of Jamaican jerk flavored chili. I wanted to spice things up.
The weather in Chicago right now feels like a sandwich. Summer and fall are being pressed together into one lovely season. Fall (the bread) begins and ends the day with cool refreshing temperatures, and summer is the warm and sultry center. The combination of this wonderful weather sammie inspired me to marry two of my favorite things, chili and jerk spices. The result is one of the best chili recipes that I’ve ever made.
This Jamaican jerk bean chili with chicken (jackfruit) is fantastic! The first thing you’ll taste when you take a spoonful is the savory and earthy rich flavors of the cumin, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger, the delicate fresh thyme and cilantro, and the sweet and tangy tomatoes and the umami soy sauce, combined, they’re oh so cozy. Once your taste buds get used to those friendly flavors, you’ll get a kick of heat from the peppers and cayenne. The build up of spices and peppers is magical. Then there’s the amazing texture. If you know jackfruit, you know that it mimics the texture of meat like nothing else. If this chili doesn’t convert a carnivore, I don’t know what will.
You need to make this soon, like today! While you’re at it, make this cornbread to go with it.
HOW TO MAKE CHILI WITH JAMAICAN JERK SPICES AND JACKFRUIT
It’s easy, If you get everything ready and lined up, like an assembly line, you’ll have everything in the pot, ready to roll, in less than 15 minutes. Once the ingredients are in the pot, all you’ll need to do is bring them to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until the chili begins to thicken.
First – Dice the peppers and onion and mince the garlic. Drain and rinse the beans, or measure out your homemade beans. Put the spices in a small dish. Drain and rinse, then chop the jackfruit. Open the container of tomatoes so it’s ready to go. Measure the water so it’s also ready to go.
Second – Sauté the onion and peppers until translucent and soft. Push the onion and peppers to the side of the pot and add the garlic and spices. Stir and cook until the spices release their oil and become fragrant. Quickly add the tomatoes, soy sauce, and water and stir well.
Third – Add the beans and jackfruit and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and cook for approximately 2 hours so the spices have time to come to life and the chili thickens. Stir frequently.
Fourth – Once the chili begins to thicken, add the fresh thyme and cilantro and stir well. You can also add the cayenne pepper and brown sugar if you so desire. I added the cayenne because we love hot food. I didn’t add the sugar because I thought that the tomatoes added just enough sweetness. Now add the cornmeal and stir until completely combined. Cook for 15 minutes.
Four easy steps to the most delicious jerk chili that you’ve ever tasted.
This is a base recipe, meaning that you can make it your own. If you like a stronger cinnamon, allspice, or cumin taste, go ahead and slowly add more. If you don’t like one of the ingredients, leave it out (although, I’d suggest sticking to the base recipe [aside from the cayenne and sugar]). Make this your own.
Kick off autumn with this easy and delicious Jamaican jerk chik’n chili and let me know what you think. I always love to hear from you.
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- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or 3 tbsp (45 ml) water
- 1 large yellow onion finely diced
- 2 scotch bonnet or jalapeno chili pepper (see note) seeds removed and finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves smashed and minced
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp allspice
- ¾ tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 1 26 oz container chopped tomatoes
- 6 cups l water
- 15 oz light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 30 oz dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 40 OZ young jackfruit, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- Dash or more if you like it hot of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 tbsp brown sugar (optional) See Note
- 1 tsp more if you like ground sea salt
- Ground black pepper to taste
- ¼ cup 43 g cornmeal plus ½ cup (120 ml) water
Drain and rinse the beans and open the container of tomatoes. Measure out the spices (if you’re using dried thyme add to the spices) and place in a small dish. Coarsely chop the jackfruit.
In a large pot, heat the oil or water on medium-high heat. Add the onions and peppers and cook until the onions are translucent and soft, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Push the onions and peppers to the side of the pot and add the garlic and spices to the pot and stir until the spices release their oils and become fragrant (don’t overcook), approximately 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, water, soy sauce, beans, jackfruit, and cayenne (optional). Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for approximately 2 hours, or until the chili begins to thicken. Whisk the cornmeal and water together in a cup and add to the chili with the fresh thyme and cilantro. Add the salt and pepper. Stir well to combine and cook for 15 minutes. If you want the jackfruit to be more of a shredded texture, use two forks and shred the pieces.
NOTE: Jerk spices can be potent or subtle. This recipe is a base for you to go with. If you want a stronger flavor of cinnamon, or ginger, or any of the spices, individual or combined, feel free to add more to suit your tastes. Just make sure that you add slowly and taste often until you achieve your desired flavor. Brown sugar is another ingredient that you’ll find in Jerk spice. I didn’t think this chili needed it because the tomatoes added a nice touch of sweetness. If you want that rich sugar flavor, add 1 tbsp (15 g) of brown sugar.
Scotch bonnet peppers are the traditional pepper to make Jerk, if you can't find them, you can substitute with jalapeno, although it won't be authentic.
The Nutrition Facts are an estimate only.