jamaican jerk chicken

my favorite quick chicken dish, jerk chicken, straight from jamaica

In Jamaica, Jerk Chicken is cooked on an open fire using Pimento wood, from the tree that produces allspice. This adds to the dishes singular, complex flavor. I am not a stickler for authenticity when it comes to food. And I can’t find Pimento wood in my Brooklyn backyard. My theory is: make what you want. Yes, keep it healthy and fresh. But don’t get hung up on having the “right” salt or firewood, or whatever ingredient has stumped you.

This recipe is a perfect weeknight dish because it takes about 30 minutes to cook. Serve it with rice and beans and a veg. Full of flavor from warm spices, hot pepper (dose to your liking) and lime, I love that you just throw everything in the blender, make a paste, and rub it all over the chicken. Marinate overnight. Bake and done.

Jerk Chicken
Serves 6-8

2 tablespoons allspice berries
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 stick cinnamon
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
6 garlic cloves
2-4 Scotch bonnet or habanero chiles, stems removed (less if you want less spice)
6 scallions, roughly chopped
1 2-inch piece ginger, thickly sliced
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup lime juice (about 2 large limes)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½ cup canola oil
6 large chicken legs, leg and thigh attached

Put all ingredients except for chicken in a blender, with liquid items put in first, and blend to a smooth paste. Coat chicken pieces all over and marinate in the fridge for at least 4 and ideally 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring chicken to room temperature before cooking (about 1 hour on the counter). Grill chicken over hot coals for about 4 minutes on each side, or until the skin begins to char. Place single layer of charred chicken pieces in a roasting pan and bake for 30 minutes to finish cooking.

To do entirely in oven, bake for 30 minutes, then broil a few minutes to darken.