Jerk is a mixture of allspice, garlic, scallions, soy sauce and chili peppers, which is native to Jamaica. This spice or sauce mixture, can marinate all sorts of meats, but especially chicken. Jerk marinade is poured over fresh poultry and held overnight for powerful flavor and then cooked over an open fire for an exquisite taste. My recipe for Jerk Chicken is prepared in the same way, but with a few different ingredients, so it is easy to grill up right in your own backyard.
Scotch Bonnet peppers are the chiles in Jerk, however if you live on the west coast, they are difficult to find unless you grow your own. I consulted with some foodie friends, who have close Jamaican friends that live here in Los Angeles, and they use Habanero Chiles because they are more readily available. So, that being said, I used Habaneros in my recipe, but added a tablespoon of brown sugar to make up for the sweetness that Scotch Bonnet’s provide.
I think you will love the simplicity of the marinade and the depth of flavor it adds to the chicken. I do prepare my marinade a day ahead, but if you are short on time, you could marinate the chicken for 4-6 hours and still have great Jerk Chicken.
1/2 red onion, diced
2 scallions, sliced
2 Habanero chiles, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons five-spice powder
2 teaspoons allspice powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 pieces of chicken – thighs, breasts and legs
1. In a food processor, add all the ingredients except the chicken. Puree the jerk mixture until smooth. Place the chicken in a large casserole dish and pour the marinade over the chicken refrigerate for 4 or more hours, but up to 24 hours.
2. When ready to cook, heat your barbecue to 375 degrees or if using a wood or charcoal grill, heat to grey coals or medium flames. I used my outdoor wood grill. Cook the chicken for 40 minutes in total, moving the meat around the grill, so it doesn’t burn.
3. Serve the Jerk Chicken with some Jamaican rice & peas. Enjoy!