Q • The Jamaica Jerked Chicken at De Palm Tree is delicious. Can you get the recipe? — Arlene Moore, St. Louis
A • When Jamaica-native Easton Romer opened De Palm Tree in 2004, friends and advisers told him, “Caribbean food won’t work in St. Louis. I give you a year.” Nine years later, De Palm Tree regulars flock to its strip center location on Olive Boulevard.
The restaurant holds only a few tables, so reservations are recommended. Carry-out is available but, says Romer of the restaurant’s signature Jamaica Jerked Chicken that’s smoked behind the restaurant, “When we run out of chicken, we run out of chicken.”
Luckily De Palm Tree’s menu isn’t limited to chicken. It’s famous for vegetable dishes such as Romer’s own favorite Okra Creole and also for Oxtail Stew. “My grandma taught me how to keep the oxtail meat tender without falling apart,” he says. The restaurant goes through 40 pounds of oxtails a week. Romer says he remembers his grandmother while he cooks, how she always told him that a young man should be independent. She’d say, “You can’t have a woman cooking for you all the time.”
Romer’s Jerked Chicken uses cinnamon, not brown sugar, for browning. “Meat shouldn’t be sweet,” he says. “And cinnamon is much better for you than sugar.”
To re-create De Palm Tree’s Jerked Chicken at home, Romer advises that cooks add the marinade ingredients in order. “If you add the cinnamon and nutmeg too early, it will dry out the marinade.” Really rub it in, he says, this incorporates the seasoning evenly.
See the recipe here.
De Palm Tree
8631 Olive Boulevard, University City