Years ago we had a Jamaican friend who lived with us for awhile and every now and again he would make Jamaican Jerk Chicken. He used a secret jerk sauce he got from his mom whenever he visited Jamaica and he would marinate the chicken–usually wings–in his secret sauce with beer and hot peppers for at least 24 hours. Those wings were incredible and are still legendary in our house.
We just got off a cruise where we spent one day in beautiful Ocho Rios, Jamaica and had some pretty amazing Jerk Chicken at a Jamaican restaurant called Scotchie’s where they do Jerk Chicken the authentic way, marinated and smoked over pimento wood. I knew I had to figure out how to make it as soon as I got home! Since the Super Bowl is just around the corner, you know I’ll be making jerk wings!!
In our house, Jamaican Jerk Chicken, like my Curry Chicken Belize Style, is pure comfort food!
Suffice it to say, I think I’ve figured out a truly authentic jerk recipe although my version packs a little less heat when I make it (guess I’m sort of a wimp when it comes to hot peppers!) Be careful with Scotch Bonnets, they are unbelievably hot (about 40 times hotter than jalapeños!)
I think you’ll love all the flavors and spices in this recipe as much as I do! It is totally worth the little bit of time to make the marinade, if you can’t find allspice berries (the fruit of the pimento tree), just sub in a couple teaspoons of ground allspice, it’s the key to Jamaican Jerk Chicken! There’s nothing better than smoky and spicy, sweet and hot, crispy and falling off the bone Jamaican Jerk Chicken!
Jamaican Jerk Chicken
- 1 organic chicken cut into pieces, about 3 ½ pounds or 8 chicken thighs or 3 pounds chicken wings
- 1 small onion cut in pieces
- 8 cloves garlic
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons whole allspice berries, coarsely ground
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- ¼ cup coconut sugar or organic brown sugar
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper (or habanero or Jalapeño)
- Juice of 3 limes
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Put all the ingredients except the chicken in the bowl of a food processor. Blend to a thick paste.
- Put chicken pieces in a large glass dish like a pyrex. Pour jerk sauce all over chicken, making sure the pieces are thoroughly covered.
- Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours and up to 2 days. The longer the better!
- Grill chicken over medium heat (my preferred method–even in winter!) about 15-20 minutes per side. Or bake in a 350 over for 45-60 minutes. If roasting the chicken in the oven, arrange chicken skin side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear when thickest part of thigh is pierced with fork.
- Serve with Jamaican rice and peas and fresh lime pieces for squeezing.
- I’m a wimp when it comes to heat and I couldn’t find any Scotch Bonnet peppers so I just went with jalapeños, lame I know but you can make it with whatever peppers you like!
- For a smokier flavor, cover the grill while cooking.
- Serve with either Jamaican rice and peas or plain buttered rice and whatever veggies you like.
- I use these whole allspice berries: Spicely Organic Allspice Berries.
- It’s fine to use ground allspice but I think the berries give it a better flavor and they’re more authentic.
- Scotch Bonnet and habanero peppers are really hot. Be careful with them!
- I prefer using coconut sugar since it is lower glycemic than brown sugar. I like this one: Organic Coconut Sugar.