Jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica in which meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice. Living in South Florida for many years I enjoyed many Caribbean dishes. This is a great one. Jerk seasoning, if you are unfamiliar with it, is based on two main ingredients – Scotch Bonnet chili peppers (or Habaneros) and allspice.
My recipe, based on Ayesha Curry’s Jerk Chicken , can be grilled or baked in the oven. If you like it fiery hot, increase the number of peppers from 2 to 4 or more. I’ve seen recipes based on traditional Jamaican cooking that used 10 to 15 peppers. That’s a little much for me, but you should make it your own by finding the level of heat that pleases you and your family.
I’m serving my chicken with fresh mango salsa – a little sweet fruit to balance the heat. You’ll find all the ingredients and directions for my salsa at Mango Salsa. Complete the salsa and put it in the refrigerator for an hour for flavors to meld.
Use organic when available. Serves 4 to 6
- 4 lb chicken cut into 8 pieces
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- juice of 3 limes + lime wedges for garnish
- 4 shallots
- 1 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 to 2 Habanero peppers stemmed and seeded
- 1 inch piece peeled ginger
- 1 bunch scallions chopped
- 3/4 tsp ground allspice
- Salt & black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Pierce the chicken all over with a small knife
- Place the garlic, olive oil and the next 9 ingredients in food processor and pulse until smooth
- Coat chicken well with the rub
- Marinate in a glass bowl with a lid in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours up to overnight
- Place chicken on grill, skin side up (Or in rimmed baking sheet in oven preheated to 425 F)
- Cook covered, turning often, until skin is crisp & lightly charred. 30–45 minutes on grill. (45 to 50 minutes oven)
- Transfer to a platter & tent with foil; let stand for 10 minutes
- Serve with fresh cilantro, lime wedges and mango salsa
- In many Caribbean and South American meals, a bean and rice dish would accompany the chicken
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