Jerk chicken with salsa and callaloo

4th March 2021 | Eativity editors

Jerk chicken is not a foul-tempered fowl, a cantankerous cockerel or even a rude rooster. Jerk refers to a style of cooking, commonly associated with Jamaica, that involves grilling spice-coated meat, poultry or even vegetables. Obviously, it’s utterly delicious – a fact that’s led to a recent surge in jerk offerings here in Australia, most notably in street food like Melbourne’s The Real Jerk. But it’s also easy to make at home, which is why we’ve shared this recipe for jerk chicken from Hayden Quinn and Lilydale Free Range chicken.

The recipe comes with some tempting sides, including callaloo. This popular Caribbean dish heroes green leafy vegetables, with many local versions using different ingredients, depending on which island you come from. Quinn has used kale, red capsicum and bird’s eye chilli in his version, along with coconut milk. This is often used in callaloo recipes from the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, where it’s also the national dish.

So why not spice up your life a little and make jerk chicken for dinner tonight? It’s a great way to transport yourself to a Caribbean island while international travel is off the cards.

Jerk chicken with salsa and callaloo

Hayden Quinn’s butterflied jerk chicken with pineapple jalapeño salsa and kale callaloo

Serves 4
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes

To butterfly a chicken, place the chicken breast-side down on a stable board and, using poultry scissors, cut along either side of the backbone and remove. Turn the chicken over again so that it’s breast-side up. Rotate the legs sideways and, using the palm of your hand, press down on the breast and flatten against the board.

For the salsa, if you can’t get your hands on any fresh pineapple, you can use canned pineapple. For the hot sauce, this recipe will make more than you need, so any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to one month in the fridge. Feel free to add extra chilli to give your sauce an even bigger kick, or try adding a habanero for some real punch.

You’ll need:

For the jerk chicken:

2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp white sugar
2 tsp allspice
1 tbsp dried oregano leaves
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
Lilydale Free Range whole chicken, butterflied
2 tbsp Australian extra virgin olive oil

Jerk chicken is traditionally cooked over a fire of green pimento wood and burning coals
Jerk chicken is traditionally cooked over a fire of green pimento wood and burning coals.

For the pineapple jalapeño salsa:

1 whole fresh Australian pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces
2 jalapeño chillis, seeds and membrane removed, diced
1 tbsp Australian extra virgin olive oil
½ cup coriander leaves, finely chopped
Sea salt, to taste

For the kale callaloo:

1 tbsp Australian extra virgin olive oil
1 medium brown onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 bird’s eye chillis, finely chopped
1 small red capsicum, diced
½ bunch kale, washed, stems removed and roughly chopped
¼ cup coconut milk
Sea salt, to taste

For the yellow rice:

1½ cups jasmine rice
½ tsp turmeric powder
¼ cup sultanas

For the hot sauce:

½ tbsp grapeseed oil
10 jalapeño chillis, sliced
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
½ tbsp coriander seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
2 ripe peaches, skin removed, chopped
½ tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

For the garnish:

Coriander sprigs, to serve
Lime wedges, to serve

Just close your eyes and imagine that you’re there…


1. To make the jerk seasoning, toss all the spices together in a small bowl, mixing well to incorporate. Cover the chicken well on both sides with spices and allow to marinate while you start preparing the other elements of the dish.

2. While the chicken is marinating, make your hot sauce by adding all ingredients to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cover and cook for 30 minutes until all ingredients have softened. Allow to cool slightly and use a stick blender to blitz together until smooth. Set aside to cool completely. Once cooled, decant sauce into a jar or sauce bottle.

3. Cook rice as per your preferred method, adding turmeric and sultanas at the start of the cooking process. Keep warm until ready to serve.

4. While the hot sauce and rice are cooking, preheat a hooded BBQ (or oven) to 200°C. Cook chicken skin-side up for 15 minutes, flip and cook skin-side down for 5 minutes or until slightly charred. Turn again skin-side up and cook for a further 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear. Allow to rest before serving.

5. While the chicken is cooking, make the kale callaloo and pineapple salsa. For the salsa, toss together all ingredients in a serving bowl and set aside in the refrigerator until ready to serve. For the callaloo, sauté off the onion, garlic, chilli and capsicum for 3 to 5 minutes, add kale and stir through, pour over coconut milk and cook covered for 5 minutes, stirring frequently until kale has wilted and softened.

6. Serve all elements family-style, so people can pick and choose how to plate their own dish. Enjoy with a good dollop of hot sauce, plus some extra coriander and lime for garnish.