The English-speaking Caribbean offers us some wonderfully complex flavors. Jerk Chicken is one of the dishes that’s synonymous with the islands. It’s has a nice kick of heat, is highly spiced and delicious. Thus, making it the perfect summer grilling dinner. You and your guests will love it.Jamaica is the home of jerk, a style of cooking that came with from Africa, with the slaves. The meat is either dry-rubbed or wet marinated (or both, as I do here) with a hot spicy blend of ingredients. The forward spice I use is allspice. Other than their lovely accent, you can always tell when someone is from the islands, because they will usually refer to allspice, as pimento. On the mainland, we tend to use allspice as a dessert spice, not a savory spice. But, it’s wonderful with pork, chicken, salmon and added to rice. The heat usually comes from Scotch Bonnet chiles (or habanero chiles), but I use red chile flakes. Habanero chiles are hot, hot, hot! Use gloves when you work with them. They have a complex flavor with fruit and floral nuances. But, I always have red pepper flakes on hand, and they work well and give you some nice heat. But, by all means use the fresh chiles for a more authentic flavor.
Back to “jerk”—It’s thought that the word jerk comes from the word charqui, a Spanish term for dried meat, like jerky. Traditionally meat is poked with a two-tined fork or knife tip, to allow the marinade to permeate the meat. (I don’t do that, as I find it isn’t necessary…this has heaps and mounds of flavor!). Enough history, now onto the prep…
yesterday we made the Jerk Seasoning Blend, which we sprinkled liberally over the chicken thighs, rubbed the spices into the thighs and placed them in a resealable plastic bag, for a couple of hours or overnight—you did that already, right? Now we’re ready for the wet rub. So, get out your blender, food processor or immersion blend and here we go!
Toss everything into the container and purée.
The marinade will be thick. Pour about 3/4 cup over the chicken, rub it in, seal the bag and chill overnight. The jerk wet rub will keep for at least a month, tightly covered, in the fridge, so feel free to double the batch.
In an oven-proof pan (I use a large skillet), toss the sweet potatoes, onions, pineapple chunks, with the olive oil; pour in the rum. Place the marinated chicken thighs on top of the vegetables, place the pan in the oven and roast until the thighs reach 170°F, about 30-40 minutes and the potatoes are tender. Remove from the oven; let stand for 10 minutes. Serve with Calypso Red Beans and Rice and some of the roasted veggies. Life is delicious!
What a Jerk Chicken!
- Jerk Seasoning Blend
- For the Jerk Marinade:
- 2-3 teaspoons red pepper flakes (or more to taste—see NOTE)
- 3 scallions, coarsely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger (about 1-inch piece)
- 4 pounds bone-in chicken thighs
- 3 tablespoons jerk dry rub
- 3/4 cup jerk marinade
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Onions, Pineapple and Rum
For the dry rub—Combine all the rub ingredients in a plastic bag. Store, covered, until ready to use. You will have extra (for next time!)
For the marinade—Toss all the marinade ingredients into a blender, food processor (or use an immersion blender); purée until smooth.
Prepare the chicken—In a large resealable plastic freezer bag (they’re stronger, but you might want to put the bag in a bowl), place the chicken with the dry rub. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours (I prefer 4-6 hours). Add the marinade, seal and chill overnight.
When ready to cook—Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove the chicken from the bag; place the chicken on a foil-lined roasting pan and cook until the internal temperature reaches 170°, about 30 to 35 minutes. Allow it to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
NOTE: Instead of the red pepper flakes use a jalapeño or Scotch Bonnet pepper, destemmed and deseeded…be sure to use gloves when handling the chiles!
What a Jerk Chicken! Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2018. All rights reserved.
By the way, I just used the Jerk Seasoning Blend on ribs, with the Guava-Onion-Rum Sauce. Yeah, that works!