One of our “pool friends” gifted us a container of Wah Gwan over the holidays. We had never heard of the spice blend, so I did a little online research to find out what it’s about.
Growing up in Long Island New York while maintaining deep roots in Jamaica, chef and nutrition coach Marc Anthony has made a career out of his passion for good food. “For years I have been testing and trying blends of spices thinking there must be an all purpose seasoning that bridges cultural and situational cooking. I want a blend I could season my tacos and pasta with and sprinkle over eggs in the morning.”
“My Wah Gwan™ seasoning to this day only sources the most quality imported ingredients. The Paprika in fact still comes from Spain and the Scotch Bonnet is grown by hand by the only person I found who can grow and dry the pepper to be just right. This is what set’s us apart and I stand by this product tearing through tins of it in our own home. Enjoy!” –Marc Anthony
He makes a mean Jerk Chicken, a dish that is adopted by cultures worldwide mostly in African and Caribbean communities. Jerk is native to Jamaica as its signature flavors come from plants only found on that island. Pimento wood, scotch bonnet pepper and allspice berries complete the flavor profile of traditional Jamaican Jerk.
Unfortunately his recipe takes 8 hours to cook over a wood fire and uses many, many ingredients. I found another recipe from cooking classy.com, that although still needs a long marinating session, gets dinner on the table much quicker. But instead of using five different spices and dried herbs, I substituted 2 tablespoons of the Wah Gwan mix. (There is also a “hot” version if you are so inclined.)
Below is the much less-involved recipe, but still incredibly flavorful thanks to hours of marinating in a vibrant and deliciously seasoned marinade. And who can resist that light char and crave-able spicy kick? Our dish included some quartered breast pieces along with the thighs to please those that prefer white meat over dark. We paired it with coconut rice and Swiss chard.
The end result is spicy, but not overly-so, at least to us. If you want to kick it up a notch, use habanero or scotch bonnet peppers in place of the jalapeños.
Grilling is also an option (see instructions below). The problem with that is, as you keep turning the chicken pieces, the jerk marinade chunks will fall off into the flames below, and those charred bits are part-and-parcel of what constitutes the appeal of this recipe.
Easy Jerk Chicken
- 8-10 bone-in skin on chicken pieces, thighs and legs (about 3 1⁄2 lbs.), trim excess fat and skin
- 6 green onions, cut into 2-inch pieces; or a small red onion
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 2 jalapeño peppers, stemmed and seeded
- 1 1/2 -inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. Wah Gwan spice, OR the 5 ingredients listed below
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- Place chicken pieces in a gallon size resealable bag.
- Add remaining ingredients to a food processor and plus several times to chop (it should be somewhat coarse). Pour mixture over chicken in bag, seal bag while pressing out excess air then rub marinade over chicken. Let rest in refrigerator 3 – 24 hours.
- Oven instructions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 18 by 13-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
- Remove chicken from marinade, leaving some chunks on the meat. Place the remaining marinade in a small sauce pan, heating on low while the chicken bakes. Serve alongside the cooked chicken for garnish.
- Arrange pieces on baking sheet leaving space between them. Bake in preheated oven until cooked through, about 45 – 50 minutes, while broiling during the last few minutes for better browning.
- Or grill instructions: preheat a gas grill to medium-high heat (about 400 degrees). Clean grill grates and rub lightly with oil using tongs and an oiled paper towel.
- Grill until chicken is cooked through, turning occasionally (and reducing burning temperature slightly if it’s browning too quickly) about 30 minutes.
WAH GWAN® CITRUS JERK GLAZE
Now, if you feel like going the extra mile, you can go online to Marc Anthony’s website and get the directions to make this jerk glaze which includes all of the ingredients below.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup jerk marinade
- 2 Tbsp. Wah Gwan®
- ½ bulb of garlic
- ½ cup Jamaican dark rum
- ½ cup beer
- ½ cup espresso
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1 peel from a lime
- ½ cup citrus juice tangerine orange
- ¼ cup cubed mango
In a pot on medium heat, add olive oil. Bring to temp and add marinade. Cook for 2 minutes two cook the rawness out of the marinade. Add Wah Gwan® and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes, then add garlic clove cut side down. Cook for another minute or so then add all of the next ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium high and let the glaze thicken. Remove from heat and set aside.