This, my full-flavored friends, is a dangerous recipe — not because of any searingly hot spice that may have steered you away from Jamaican Jerk recipes in the past (after all, you are making it so you can add however much heat you like!). It is dangerous because the medley of spices that mingle in your mouth strike chords unlike any other meat recipe you’ve tried. The combination of allspice, cinnamon, thyme, and peppered heat (all hallmarks of jerk), play out in unexpected and beautiful ways. This is easily in my top 10 ten meat recipes of all time. Grill over charcoal and add a bit of smoke for incredibly full-flavor that escapes description. I dare say, it nears culinary perfection. Deliver me from temptation, lest I turn gluttonous. I cannot resist.
There isn’t just one way to do jerk. Make up the spice mix before your cookout then this flavorful dish will be a breeze to prepare.
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Marinate: 1 hour to overnight
Cook Time: about 1 hour indirect with smoke; less if grilled directly over heat.
Servings: about 8
Ingredients: 3 1/2 – 4 pounds chicken pieces of your choice, jerk spice (below), jerk marinade and mop sauce (below).
5 T brown sugar
2 T kosher salt
2 T cayenne pepper (for medium heat, use 3-4 T)
4 t cinnamon
4 t onion powder
4 t garlic powder
2 t black pepper
1 t dried crushed thyme leaves
1 t allspice
1 t ground ginger
1 t ground nutmeg
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in a closed container for up to 1 year… but you will use long before then!
Jerk Marinade, Mop, & Sauce
2 medium – large white or yellow onions
1/2 C cooking oil (I use canola)
6 T Jerk Spice from above
4T Apple Cider Vinegar
Habanero Sauce* to taste — choose your heat:
– 2 t El Yucateco Habanero sauce yields a mild warmth; double it for noticeable heat
*Scotch Bonnet peppers are traditional but I could not get them. I use El Yucateco Salsa Picante de Chile Habenero (habeneros are similarly hot — about 225,000 SHU on the Scoville Scale). The results are excellent and the sauce is very convenient. Two teaspoons in this mix are quite mild with some flavor, four is warm, and six is what I would call very warm but not hot — unless of course, you are a Midwesterner 😉
Combine all ingredients in a food processor & blend to a slightly lumpy paste of onion-y, spicy goodness; reserve 1/4 C for plating with cooked chicken, divide remainder in two: half for marinade, half for basting mop during the cook.
Marinate in a non-reactive bowl & refrigerate for 1-4 hours, or overnight for full flavor.
- Prepare charcoal grill for indirect cooking and establish temp of about 325º F.
- Place chicken on cooking grate opposite coals, place handful of apple wood chunks on coals, replace cover and smoke for apx. 30 minutes.
- Baste with jerk sauce, flip chicken, baste again, and cook with indirect heat for apx. 15 minutes more.
- Move to direct heat, baste, and tend to for final 10 minutes (or so). Remove chicken when an internal minimum temperature of 165º F is reached for 2 minutes; allow to rest 10 minutes.
- Plate and serve with reserved jerk sauce.
- Pair with Jamaican Red Stripe lager.