Jerk Chicken: The Ultimate BBQ Food

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chicken plateI just finished making Jerk Chicken for 25 people.  It’s currently cooling, getting ready to be packed away to be reheated on the BBQ and served to a crowd of hungry teachers and their families.

I’ve just nipped a piece for myself.  I couldn’t resist.

There are a few reasons why I choose to make Jerk Chicken a summer BBQ staple,  First of all, it’s fun finger food that can be enjoyed while mingling on a patio or porch.  Secondly, it’s stupidly easy.  Thirdly, well, 2 1/2 million Jamaicans can’t be wrong.

This recipe makes enough for around 8 people.  If you are bringing it for a BBQ potluck, serve it as is, with a good hot sauce.*  If you are making it as part of a meal, serve it up with some traditional Jamaican Rice and Peas, some cold veggies, and, of course, a good hot sauce.*

I’m not exactly sure where I originally got the recipe for this from.  I do know that it has undergone quite a few changes before it got to the recipe you see now.

And the recipe you see now is one of my absolute favourites.  It’s also impressed the heck out of a number of born and bred Jamaicans — including a couple of older ladies who were convinced I had a secret Jamaican chef to do all my prep-work for me.

Nope.  No Jamaicans.  Just some Farm to Table love.

Jerk Chicken

  • 3 lbs chicken drumsticks and thighs (you can split whole chicken legs rather than buying separately).
  • 3 green onions
  • 4-5 garlic cloves (depending on size)
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 habaneros, whole (if I’m cooking for those who are used to Jamaican food, I use a couple more)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Place all ingredients (except for the chicken) into a food processor.
  • Process it on “turbo” setting until it is a smooth liquid (or as smooth as it gets — there will probably be a bit of clumpiness).
  • Pour over chicken.
  • Marinate overnight.
  • Preheat BBQ on high.
  • Place chicken on BBQ and reduce heat to medium.
  • Cook — checking and turning frequently — until the chicken starts to brown.
  • Move browned pieces to upper shelf.
  • Once all pieces are browned, cook for another 15 minutes or so on the upper shelf with the lid closed.  If there are flare-ups, turn off one side of the BBQ and place chicken pieces on the upper shelf of that side.
  • Officially, chicken is done when it reaches 165F.  Here’s my deal, though.  I tend to only cook it to 155 and then let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.  It will reach a safe serving temperature.  Note: I do not do this if I am catering/cooking for a crowd.
    Serve with a good hot sauce.

*I have my own homemade hot sauce for jerk chicken.  Sorry, but I’m not sharing the recipe.  I sell the sauce — “The Habarnero Death” — and also use it for Farm to Table prizes.  One day, when I’m old and grey and retired, I’ll share it.  But until then, find your own.  A hint though.  It contains: orange juice, lime juice, habaneros, crushed mustard seed, brown sugar, and my own blend of fresh-ground herbs and spices.  It is very hot.  And very, very good.