When you hear the word jerk—once you've determined nobody's calling you one—you probably think of spicy Jamaican food. The hot-sweet flavor that's associated with the Caribbean island is a bit of a catchall term: It refers to a dry rub, a paste, a marinade, a style of cooking and the ultimate Jamaican street food. In classic jerk cooking, meat (usually pork or chicken) is marinated in more than a dozen ingredients, including allspice, fiery Scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, black pepper and sugar. If you don't have time to marinate, add a quick kick with a dry jerk seasoning blend. You can buy it at the market, but it's easy to make at home. Rub it on meat, sprinkle it on grilled corn or add a pinch to chili. So don't be bummed if you can't make it to the Caribbean this Labor Day Weekend. Add some island flare to any nearly any protein with this DIY jerk seasoning recipe—even if you're miles and miles away from the nearest island breeze.

Caribbean Jerk Chicken

DIY Jamaican Jerk Spice recipe:

In a small bowl, mix 2 tbsp. ground allspice, 5 tsp. cayenne, 2 tsp. (packed) brown sugar, 2 tsp. dried thyme, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. onion powder. Makes about 1/3 cup.

Try these recipes, too:

Jerk Fish Dinner
Jamaican Jerk Drumsticks & Thighs
Jerk Pork Cheeseburgers with Green Apple Slaw

-- By Charles Grayauskie