Most of the folks in the household here haven’t been to the Caribbean, and have never tasted jerk chicken. So I made it the other night and it was a huge hit. Youngest son was working late and missed dinner, so he attacked the leftovers and went back for more. The next morning, the first question was “What was that chicken?” and “Why haven’t we had it before?”
I helps here if you have a food processor to make the jerk paste for marinating the chicken, but if you don’t, just cut up and mix the ingredients the best you can. It’s more work, but the flavor will be the same.
This chicken is intended to be cooked outside on the grill, and I’m sure it’s better that way. But I wanted to test it in the oven, and it worked fine. So if you can, grill it outside and ignore the instructions below for the oven. As is always the case for chicken, don’t have the grill too hot because you don’t want the sauce to burn. Cook it gently for about 45 minutes, turning it every 10 minutes or so.
Cut up the chicken, and brine it. While it’s brining, you can make the jerk paste:
1 3-4 pound chicken, cut up
1/2 yellow or brown onion, or 1 bunch of green onions (about eight)
1 tablespoon powdered ginger
4 cloves garlic
3 jalapeño chiles
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, or 1 tablespoon dried
1/4 cup lime juice (approximately one lime if you have a juicer)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
If you’ve got a food processor, cut the onion into one inch chunks, crumble up the bay leaves, cut off the stem from the chiles and quarter them, and place all the ingredients in the food processor. Pulse it until you have a paste.
If you don’t, chop the ingredients much finer (mince them) and mix the ingredients to form the paste.
Assuming you’ve brined the chicken pieces, rinse them off and pat them dry. Put them in another bag with the jerk paste and let them marinate for a half hour or so.
If you’re cooking them in the oven, preheat it to 375 F. Spread aluminum foil over a rimmed cookie sheet and spray with Pam. Place the chicken pieces with the larger pieces on the outside, and roast for 45 minutes.
Serve with white rice and a salad. And if you really want the Caribbean experience, you should have broken out the rum a while ago!