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Recipe by: Chef John V.
Description: A Jamaican way of
cooking chicken marinated in a spicy and fragrant herb and
spice mixture that's grilled over a charcoal and wood fire
Serving size: 2-3 thighs per
person, this recipe serves about 6-8 hungry people
Preparation time: about 2 days and
then the cooking time of about 50 minutes
make authentic Jerk Chicken: A story and the recipe---
The skin is nice and crisp, there’s barely a burn
mark or char and what an aroma of smoke and
spice---additional enjoyment can be had by
dipping each bite into Pickapeppa Sauce!
“Oh mon, this is like home”!
I assume you
have a grill of some sort. An outside charcoal grill would
be best, a gas grill isn't bad either and, if you have
neither you can do it in your oven with the aid of a
broiler. Oh no, you don't have any of these! Well if worse
comes to worst you can even fry it like you would with
fried chicken following a suggestion I've included.
Let's talk grilling, you'll need a medium-hot fire. I
like to start the charcoal, then wait until all the
charcoal turns white...a really hot fire, then cover the
grill slightly with a lid and wait another 30 minutes for
the fire to burn down to a medium-high heat. Now I'm ready
to grill, you see we don' t want to over char and burn the
skin. Place the chicken , skin side down around the outer
part of the grill grates and not directly in the center.
Just let it cook about 10 minutes like this then turn it
over and grill the other side for 10 minutes. Turn again,
this time moving the chicken closer to the center of the
grill. Add the wood chips or chunks to the charcoal and
cover the grill for 15 minutes...you'll see a lot of smoke
coming from the grill’s vent...that's good! After the 15
minutes, turn the chicken to cook the other side.
If at any time you feel the meat is getting too dark, then
make adjustments to the location of the chicken on the
grill. Move it around to cooler and or hotter locations as
needed. You may even want to adjust the cooking time and
the length of time the cover is on. Remember that every
grill is different and we all put different amounts of
charcoal on a fire. It's up to you how dark the chicken
gets on the grill, but I can tell you right now that burn
skin and edges don't taste good and they’re not good for
you either. I'm very careful when grilling, I want just
enough heat to cook the meat and have it come out golden
brown! Final internal temperature should be 170º F when
done; and when a fork, a skewer or tip of a knife pierces
the meat, the juices that come out should be clear and not
pink. I assume that most of you have grilled before and
know most of the proper techniques that should be used,
along with some common sense.
Learning to be a
good griller takes time and a lot of practice!
Lester is from Jamaica, a small town 3 miles away from
where the famous Pickapeppa Sauce is made. I met him about
18 years ago and we quickly became friends. I only saw him
occasionally though, only when I would park at the lot he
was tending to. We always talked food and how he missed
the cooking of home. Lester's 74, a big guy with one heck
of a smile and to me, the quintessential Jamaican
I told him I knew about Jamaican
cooking from another Jamaican acquaintance. Rice, pigeon
peas, mountain chicken, paw paw and jerk. He said that if
the jerk was good, you’ll have a little twitch of your
body after every bite! That was it, I had to make him some
Along with all of the fixings, I brought him
two shopping bags full---to his surprise, enough for him
and his wife. A few weeks passed before I would see him
again, but one day in the mail, I received a card from him
and his wife thanking me for the best jerk they've had
outside of Jamaica...what a compliment! They also loved
the callalou (braised greens, like collards) and the peas
and rice. When I finally saw him again, he thanked me over
and over, telling me how he lugged the food home on the
bus and that many people smelled the food and wanted to
know where to buy some. He shrugged and told me that's our
Enjoy this recipe, it's authentic! It's a
wet marinade, not a dry rub. You get more flavor
penetrating into the meat this way, it's sort of like
brining. Follow it as is, do a careful job grilling it and
you'll be rewarded with a taste of Jamaica!
Jerk Marinating Paste
1 tbsp. ground Jamaican allspice
2 tbsp. Scotch
bonnet peppers, finely chopped (very, very hot!)
1 cup onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp. cloves
garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum
1 lime, quartered and
12-16 Chicken Thighs, rinsed
under cold water and patted dry with paper
Combine all seasoning ingredients and mix well. Add the
chicken thighs and mix, then marinate for 2 days and two
nights, turning everything over once. Be sure to and cover
with plastic wrap!
When the marinating process is
finished, it’s time to grill!
You’ll need a BBQ
Grill setup with charcoal, if possible real charcoal and
some real hard wood chunks like oat or
wood chips for smokiness.
If pan frying like “fried
chicken”, dip each piece on both sides in flour, shake off
the excess and fry in vegetable oil that’s 325ºF. and
maintain that temperature throughout the entire cooking
time. You also want an internal temperature of 170º F,
which indicates it’s cook properly.
This this is the sauce
you need to make it the real thing!
The Pickapeppa Company Limited, Hooters Hill
P.O, Manchester, Jamaica West Indies
A Gastronomic Gourmet Cooking Resource Since