Today we’re hitting the grill with a delicious and authentic Jamaican Jerk Chicken recipe!
In Jamaica, you don’t have to venture far to get your first taste of the Caribbean. Terrific street food abounds, and a stop along any of the main avenues in town will provide a great meal at very reasonable prices. Some of the most popular Jamaican dishes can be found right along Kent Avenue, where you can sample authentic Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Pepper Shrimp or Fish Tea (a rich seafood broth).
The scotch bonnet is also the key ingredient in jerk, a cooking style which dates back to the Arawak Indians. The natives taught this method of cooking to the Maroons, Jamaica’s runaway slaves who lived in the jungle interior.
Traditionally, jerked pork or chicken is loaded with a thick paste of peppers and spices, wrapped in plantain leaves and then buried in a hole filled with hot stones where it is baked.
The word jerk’s origins are unknown; some believe it to be linked to the Dutch word gherkin, meaning “to pickle or marinate,” while others believe it refers to the jerking motion of turning the meat over the coals.
I tweaked this Jamaican jerk chicken recipe from a cookbook my wife brought home from Montego Bay and it’s truly amazing. If you don’t like a strong allspice flavor, you can cut the amount of allspice in half and still have great results.
Jamaican Jerk Chicken
- 3 pounds chicken thighs bone and skin on
Jerk Chicken Marinade
- 6-8 green onions
- 1 tablespoon garlic-shallot puree or fresh chopped garlic
- 4 scotch bonnet or habanero peppers stemmed and seeded
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
- 1/8-1/4 cup allspice berries use smaller amount if you don’t like allspice
- 1/4 cup fresh sliced mango
- Toast allspice berries in pan until fragrant. Blend Marinade ingredients together.
- Coat chicken thighs with marinade mixture and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight, covered.
- Cook chicken pieces on grill, turning frequently, until crispy and done – about 40-45 minutes or until the thickest piece reaches a temperature of 165 F.