jamaican jerk chicken

30 May

Have I talked about how much I like summer food? It’s hard to tell if I get equally excited about all seasonal foods at the start of each season (I’m fairly positive I do), but I feel extra excited about grilling vegetables and charring delightfully marinated meats right now. And who better to tell me what to eat in the summer than Jamaicans? If this dish is any indication, they certainly know their stuff.
The seasoning has lots of depth and could almost be considered winter-y, but is lightened by spicy habanero peppers and lime. Coupled with the fact that it’s essential to grill the chicken, and no other method will do, it’s almost by definition a summer food. Oh, and you should certainly serve it with a tropical fruit salsa – one with mango, papaya, pineapple, or all of the above. I also made kale with lots of lime juice on it. So perfect. And really good for lunch the next day. And breakfast. Next time I’m going to make double the amount of chicken… and hopefully not eat double at each meal.
This marinade would also go excellent with pork, so if you have some pork in the fridge that you’re looking to grill, might I strongly suggest (forcefully insist) you make this recipe? I found some variations on jerk seasoning that included ginger root. I think I could go either way on it. If you’re a big fan of ginger, then definitely include some – about an inch square little nubby. I also saw shallots instead of the onion. It’s certainly not a science, and you can taste and adjust any of the ingredients before you put it on the chicken. If you’re nervous about the habaneros, start small and increase if you want. I used three, and it wasn’t overwhelmingly spicy by any means.

jerk chicken
adapted from Gourmet, serves 4-5

3 scallions, chopped
4 large garlic cloves
1 small onion, chopped
3 fresh habanero chiles, stemmed and seeded
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons tamari
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

2 1/2 to 3 pounds chicken thighs and drumsticks (or whichever chicken parts you’d like)

1. In a large Ziplock bag, add chicken and marinade. Squeeze out the air and seal. Squish around to distribute the marinade. Refrigerate for 1 day, turning the bag over once or twice.

2. When you’re about ready to cook, take the chicken out and let it sit for about 1 hour.

3. Preheat grill on high, then turn heat down to moderate. Cook chicken for about, 15 to 20 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Occasionally brush any leftover marinade on chicken as you cook.

4. Turn heat down to low and cook, covered, for about 25 minutes more.

Serve the chicken with a tropical fruit salsa, citrus kale, fried plantains, or whatever else you think might sound nice!


8 Responses to “jamaican jerk chicken”

  1. 10slate June 6, 2011 at 16:27 #

    I used 1 habanero and the marinade is really spicy. I think the spice level changes from pepper to pepper. It’s going to be really good.

    • Julie June 7, 2011 at 16:04 #

      Yeah, peppers can vary quite a bit in their spiciness. Glad you tested after one! Hope you like the end result : )

  2. Dee June 6, 2011 at 18:32 #

    Like to try this, but am unsure of Tamari…. Is it a soy sauce type? I am allergic to soy… is there a substitute? Thanks!

    • Julie June 6, 2011 at 20:38 #

      Yes, tamari is fermented soy. You could substitute Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or Coconut Aminos. Or, really, you could try leaving it out. Perhaps sprinkling a little sea salt in the marinade to make up for the saltiness of the tamari.

      Let me know how it goes!


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