Friday, May 20, 2011

Jerking Your Chicken

Back in December, a friend of mine reminisced about the 25 cent Jamaican Jerk wings deals every Wednesday when we were in college, and as we talked, I decided that I had not really known what Jamaican Jerk was all about.
As the New Year approached, I decided to find, and perhaps develop a Jerk recipe. On January 2 I left my wintery palace in the mountains of New Hampshire for the Jamaican jungle in search for the truth.
In the Jungle, my guide Henry, told me one of the major keys to Jerk is the Allspice, the other Scotch Bonnets. He showed me the tree and other plants in the jungle that were included. He gathered garlic, wild ginger, nutmeg, and we even stumbled on to a pepper plant. Here is a recipe that I put together when I go back to the Shire.
It’s a lot of ingredients, but typically they’re all sitting in your pantry already.
The flavors will surprise you! Try it!

Prep Time: 15 min + marinating time 
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • ½ cup malt vinegar

  • 10 green onions, chopped

  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled, chopped

  • 3 tablespoons dried thyme

  • 2 Scotch bonnet chiles or habanero chiles with seeds, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 5 teaspoons ground allspice

  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger

  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper

  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar

  • 1 cup ketchup

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce

  • about 6 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts

  • ½ cup fresh lime juice

1. Boil rum and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan for 3 minutes.

2. Transfer the rum mixture to a blender or processor; add the vinegar, green onions, garlic, thyme, chilies, oil, spices, salt, pepper, and sugar; blend until almost smooth. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the jerk seasoning to a small bowl; mix in the ketchup and soy sauce to make the sauce. (Jerk seasoning and sauce can be made 1 day ahead; cover separately and refrigerate.)

3. Place chicken in large zip bags and pour the lime juice over the chicken; turn to coat. Spoon the jerk over the chicken and massage passionately it into the chicken. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, turning and exciting the bag occasionally. Personally, I like to leave it in the fridge to think about it’s flavors overnight, but that’s just me!

So now comes the cooking part. Here, I like to do it one of two ways. We can either cook it more authentically by grilling it on some allspice limbs over some coals, or we can bake it in the oven for a couple of hours. Whatever your mood is, I find either way very flavorful and satisfying.

Oven Method
4a. Place chicken covered with jerk into a baking dish covered with foil. Bake on 300F for 2-3 hours. Remove foil and put under broiler to and some color. Done. Serve with the reserved jerk sauce.


Grill Method
4b. Prepare a grill (more coals on one side than the other). Place some allspice branches that you have soaked in water on the grill. Place the chicken, skin side down, on the hot side of the grill; grill to develop some color. Move to the cooler side of the grill and continue to cook, turning occasionally, for about 20-25 minutes, until the breasts measure 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer and the legs and thighs read 165 degrees. Done.
Serve with the reserved jerk sauce.

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