The Peppers You Need For Jerk Chicken With The Right Amount Of Spice

plated jerk chicken and rice
plated jerk chicken and rice - Tynia Peay/Mashed

Traditional jerk chicken is cooked via the jerk method, a complicated process that may involve both grilling and smoking the meat (which doesn't have to be chicken) as well as seasoning it with a distinctive spice blend that includes garlic, ginger, allspice (aka pimento), scallions, thyme, cinnamon, and Scotch bonnets. However, Mashed recipe developer Ty Peay has come up with a simplified jerk chicken recipe that skips the cinnamon and cooks the dish in the oven. Peay does say, though, that she uses liquid smoke to "mimic the smokiness of the grill."

Peay also omits the Scotch bonnet peppers that are a typical ingredient of Jamaican-style jerk, As she tells us, "Since they aren't easily found in my area, I use a Scotch bonnet pepper sauce as a substitute." The brand she uses is Grace Foods, which is a company based in Jamaica, although its Scotch bonnet sauce can be found in U.S. supermarkets including Kroger, Safeway, and Walmart.

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What Are Some Alternatives To Scotch Bonnet Pepper?

ingredients for jerk chicken
ingredients for jerk chicken - Tynia Peay/Mashed

If you can't find the same type of Scotch bonnet sauce that Peay uses, you have plenty of alternatives. For the most similar results, you can opt for a different brand of Scotch bonnet sauce such as Scotch Boyz, which is sold at Target, or Jamaican Country Style (JCS), which may be available at Walmart. You can also use a fresh Scotch bonnet pepper as Peay suggests, although a habanero will work just as well since these closely related peppers taste quite similar. They also have the same spice level, which comes in at a moderate 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville units.

You can also amp up the heat by using a ghost pepper, which may triple or quadruple the Scovilles as they range from 855,000 to 1,463,000 units. It's also possible to go in the other direction by opting for a milder pepper if that suits you better. While Peay says "Serrano peppers are also close replacements" for the pepper sauce in her recipe, this type of pepper doesn't really replicate the Scotch bonnet's fruity flavor and also has just 5,000 to 15,000 Scovilles. If all you want is a very mild hint of heat, though, you could always opt for a jalapeño with its mere 2,500 to 5,000 Scovilles. There's nothing wrong with that since you're more likely to appreciate all of the other flavors in the chicken's jerk-style seasoning if your mouth isn't on fire from the pepper.

Read the original article on Mashed.