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Soul food is one of the most flavourful and delicious cuisines on the planet with a wide variety of hearty and delicious dishes being associated with it. A classic soul food dish though is of course the mouth-wateringly scrumptious jerk chicken. This dish originated in Jamaica but is loved around the world. That said though, if you’ve never cooked jerk chicken before, you may wonder what to serve with jerk chicken?
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What Is Jerk Chicken?
As mentioned above, jerk chicken is a deliciously flavourful soul food dish that originated in Jamaica. This is a dish made traditionally by coating chicken (along with potentially other ingredients such as meat and veggies) in spices and cooking it “jerk style”, i.e. slow cooking over a fire or grill.
Often spices used in the marinade for jerk chicken include allspice along with scotch bonnet peppers in addition to other ingredients. Naturally, these will vary but typically they will include soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and thyme.
The result of this combination of seasonings, ingredients and cooking techniques is a dish that is very much bursting with a variety of flavours. Most prominently these include spicy, smoky, sweet, nutty and earthy tastes, alongside the savoury taste of chicken. Meanwhile, the resulting texture of the meat is wonderfully tender and deliciously juicy.
What Goes With Jerk Chicken?
Jerk chicken is very much a dish that is incredibly flavourful and can stand by itself as the main star of a meal. That said though pretty every dish in existence can be supplemented with sides or accompaniments that will enhance the overall experience.
When it comes to soul food dishes like this the themes hearty and homey delicious flavours are truly a wonderful culinary aspect to lean into. As such dishes that are flavourful and texture-rich in ways that contrast with and/or mirror those found in your jerk in complementary ways are a great choice. That said though another avenue that you can take is to serve your jerk chicken alongside more mildly flavoured dishes in order for it to truly stand out on its own.
What To Serve With Jerk Chicken?
With the above in mind, you may be somewhat unsure of what to serve with your jerk chicken or you may have side ideas in already. Either way, like with other soul food classics such as chicken and waffles, sides are an important factor that can make a meal from good to great. As such, for some of the best side dish options to serve with Jamaican jerk chicken, check out the options below:
- Potato Salad
- Roasted Potatoes
- Mashed Potatoes
- French Fries
- Fried Plantains
- Grilled Pineapple
- Coconut Rice
- Mango Salsa
- Collard Greens
- Something To Drink
A delicious dish that originates from Germany that originates from Germany may not be the first choice of most people to serve with jerk chicken. However, when said dish is some deliciously creamy potato salad, it makes perfect sense.
Potato salad is often eaten as a side dish and is incredibly versatile along with being widely popular. As such it is perfect alongside a variety of meals alongside a variety of other dishes. When served alongside jerk chicken the creamy nature of potato salad adds some additional moisture to the meal. Additionally, the creamy and earthy flavours along with the soft and crunchy textures make for a wonderful contrast with our main dish.
The beauty of potato salad though is that it is incredibly easy to make and can be made ahead of time to make the overall cooking experience a breeze. In addition though, if you want to make your potato salad slightly more elaborate it can be adapted to also contain a variety of other ingredients such as boiled eggs or celery. All of which will pair excellently with your jerk chicken.
On the other end of the spectrum though another delicious potato side option is of course roasted potatoes. By themselves, you will find that roasted potatoes provide a wonderful contrast of taste and thanks to them being crispy on the outside and wonderfully fluffy in the middle, both of which pair wonderfully with your jerk chicken.
Like with potato salad though you can incorporate certain modifications to add some extra wow factor to this delicious side option. Of course, adding fresh herbs as seasoning is an excellent way of adding extra flavour, but why stop there? You can take things a step further by sprinkling them with freshly grated parmesan and garlic in order to make some delicious roasted garlic potatoes that are accentuated by a wonderful cheesy sharpness.
Another fantastic option though is to make some roasted sweet potatoes which will add some syrupy sweetness. Alternatively though, for a more subtle sweetness, regular potatoes with a honey, balsamic or even a maple syrup glaze works perfectly.
Sticking again with the potato theme, another side dish that truly pairs wonderfully with most dishes but particularly so with jerk chicken is of course mashed potatoes Truly, you can’t go wrong with some mashed potatoes on the side of this main since they will add a creamy and fluffy texture, along with a subtle earthiness to your meal, Meanwhile. it also has a wonderful starchy quality that allows it to soak up juices from the jerk chicken.
As established above, mashed potatoes are of course great. However, there is a multitude of ways in which they can be made even more delicious. Some great ways to do so are to use sour cream and butter alongside your milk, along with incorporating herbs such as fresh rosemary, garlic or parsley into the mash.
Alternatively though, like with roasted potatoes, you put a sweeter twist on things by using sweet potatoes instead of regular ones. Making mashed sweet potatoes in this way adds some syrupy sweetness to the meal which pairs excellently with the various flavours of your jerk chicken.
The final potato-based suggestion is an iconic side for serving alongside any dish, but pairs wonderfully with jerk chicken. Naturally, this is of course a portion of delicious French fries. The reason is that they provide some wonderfully crispy and fluffy textures in addition to some wonderfully scrumptious salty and earthy flavours. Each of which will pair perfectly with the texture and tastes of your jerk chicken main.
French fries will pair excellently with jerk chicken. However, they can be enhanced or modified in a number of ways. One wonderful option is to sprinkle garlic powder and grated parmesan cheese atop them to add extra flavour. Alternatively, though, some jerk seasoning can add double down on the theme of your dish and add some extra kick, or you can add some contrast by making some Greek-style lemon fries. How thickly you cut your French fries will also change things up since thicker fries will be more fluffy whilst thinner fries will be crispier.
Another fun twist when making French fries is to use sweet potatoes like with the prior options to make baked sweet potato fries. Naturally, these fries will inevitably be sweeter than the regular ones in addition to a more crunchy texture. However, they will excellently complement your spicy jerk chicken whilst providing crispy fries guilt-free.
For another starchy side option then some fried plantains make for a wonderful choice for pairing alongside nearly any soul food dish. However, these starchy and slightly sweet, fried fruits make for an especially wonderful pairing when served alongside your jerk chicken.
By deep-frying your plantains the result is a deliciously crispy and starchy side that contrasts wonderfully with your main meal. Additionally, the subtle sweet tastes and layers of flavour achieved through good seasoning provide a wonderful mesh of flavours that bounce pair perfectly with your jerk chicken.
If you don’t want to deep fry your plantains though, another excellent option is to sauté them for a slightly more buttery taste. Meanwhile, another iconic way to prepare them for serving with jerk chicken is to bake some plantain tortillas.
For a side that has a soft crunch with sweet, tropical and smoky flavours, few pair better with jerk chicken than some delicious grilled pineapple. The wonderful thing with this side dish option though is that it perfectly mirrors and contrasts with your main in a variety of scrumptious ways.
Taste-wise, the tangy, sweet and tropical flavours stand out as a distinct contrast to the more spicy and smoky aspects of jerk chicken, whilst somewhat mirroring the subtle flavour of the allspice. Meanwhile, the smoky char that pineapple acquires from the grill synergises perfectly with similar char found with jerk chicken. In terms of texture though, the soft crunch and sweet juiciness of the pineapple also combine with those of your main to create a wonderfully layered and diverse mouth feel.
In order to make this side particularly sweet and perfect for your jerk chicken, some simple prep will really enhance the final result. Simply slathering your pineapple slices in a glaze of brown sugar and butter before grilling helps pack in some extra sweetness along with adding some extra subtle buttery goodness.
A natural choice of side dish for near enough any soul food dish is of course a pile of fluffy, steaming white rice. Of course then, the same is true for jerk chicken as it will be delicious served atop a bed of rice. That said thou, you can easily take this up a step by making coconut rice.
Making coconut rice is an easy way to do to give this classic side a wonderful tropical feel whilst adding some extra flavour. This can be simply accomplished by cooking your jasmine or basmati rice in a mixture of coconut milk and chicken broth, the combination of which will infuse extra layers of flavour into the rice. Following this though, some wonderful finishing touches is to add in some mangos and pistachios add further layers of extra flavour and texture to the dish.
For a delicious and refreshing dip to have alongside your jerk chicken, some sweet summery taste of the mango salsa makes for a wonderful contrast from the flavours of your main in some exciting ways. In particular, the salsa adds a fruity zest to the meal which can either be layered with spiciness or accentuated with a mild and cool temperature. Additionally, the soft fruit will add an extra layer of texture to the tender and juicy jerk chicken.
The beautiful thing about this side is that it can be served in a couple of excellent ways. One option is a separate pot of salsa, whilst another method is to dollop it on top. Either way, the contrasting selection of tastes and textures will be wonderful. Additionally, it can also be served alongside another side without over facing your meal and will pair excellently with a myriad of other side options.
Jerk chicken truly is an iconic soul food dish. Naturally then, it makes sense when preparing this dish to serve it alongside some vegetables that are also associated with soul cuisine, right?
Exactly, as such when pairing vegetables with Jerk chicken collard greens make for a wonderful choice especially. This is especially true when you want to enjoy some jerk chicken in cooler months since the collard greens help to make a more deliciously hearty meal all around.
If you’re unaware, collared greens are loose leafed plants. They have a somewhat visual similarity to cabbage or broccoli but are completely distinct vegetables. They can be quite bitter when eaten raw, however, cooking collard greens mellows out this bitterness allowing a more earthy flavour comes through.
These versatile veggies can also be cooked and prepared in a myriad of ways to complement your jerk chicken. When serving them alongside you they are particularly wonderful when sauteed in garlic and butter or prepared as spicy collard greens in an instant pot.
Something To Drink
Naturally, when you’re having a delicious homecooked dinner, you’ll want to have a delicious drink alongside it. However, whilst there are many drinks that you can sip on, for a truly special dining experience, you should strive to pick something that perfectly pairs with jerk chicken.
One classic option that beautifully mirrors the sweet and spicy aspects of your meal perfectly is of course some delicious ginger beer. This option will be wonderfully refreshing and with a tot of rum mixed in will also have slightly more of a kick.
Speaking of rum though, some spiced and fruity rums make for a great accompaniment, whether on their own or with a mixer. In particular, rums infused with flavours such as mango, pineapple and/or lime juice make for wonderful choices.
For a more elegant yet still fruity drink option though then wine will perfectly hit that spot. In particular, serving a pitcher of white wine with some fruit slices makes for a wonderfully refreshing counterpart to your spicy jerk chicken. Additionally, adding in some fresh thyme will provide an extra subtle herby flavour. If wishing to keep the wine simple though then a good bottle of sweet white such as pinot gris is an excellent choice.
Answered: What To Serve With Jerk Chicken?
Jamaican jerk chicken is a wonderfully delicious soul food dish that pairs well with a variety of different sides. Naturally, though, you should pick side options that complement this main to truly make it a treat for your taste buds.
Of course, the options above, whether it be coconut rice, roasted potatoes or a nice rum are all excellent ways to do this. However, whichever of the aforementioned choices your pick should always appeal to your own preferences. As such, if our suggestions have given you any other ideas, then give them a go, either alongside some of ours or even on their own.
FAQ – What To Serve With Jerk Chicken?
What do you serve with jerk pork?
A wide variety of different sides will pair excellently with jerk pork. Some excellent options include but of course aren’t limited to fruity rum, potato salad, fried plantains and coconut rice.
Is jerk chicken good for a diet?
When consumed as part of a healthy and balanced diet, jerk chicken is an excellently healthy and delicious choice of protein. This is especially true when you opt for chicken breasts as they are particularly lean.
What wood do they use in Jamaica for jerk chicken?
Spices used in the marinade for jerk chicken include allspice along with scotch bonnet peppers in addition to soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and thyme. These will then be slow-cooked jerk style over a fire/grill burning with pimento wood.
Is Jamaican jerk chicken fattening?
Jerk chicken is not considered to be inherently fattening. In fact, if consumed as part of a healthy and balanced diet, jerk chicken is an excellently healthy and delicious choice of protein. This is especially true when you opt for chicken breasts as they are particularly lean.