Thursday, July 14, 2011

Jamaican Jerk Chicken (Savage Boleks' BBQ 2011)

My beautiful Angel, Clare, and I are trying to establish a yearly barbecue.  The plan is to smoke pork shoulders and make pulled pork sandwiches, which serve as the centerpiece of the barbecue.  However, I also include a second protein.  Last year, for the first annual Savage Boleks' Annual BBQ, it was D.C. half smokes.  For 2011, the supporting role for the Second Annual Savage Boleks' Annual BBQ was the Jamaican Jerk Chicken.  I originally intended to use the Jerk Chicken recipe that I used for my Around the World in 80 Dishes challenge. That recipe is an amalgam of a couple of recipes for Jerk Chicken.  It worked well for one batch, but I was a little nervous about using to make a lot of chicken.  So, I decided to revert to the principal recipe that I used, which was really easy to double or triple or even septuple (or whatever is the word for doing something seven times).

In the end, I still departed from the original recipe. When it came time to making the rub, I increased the amounts of  ground cinnamon, ground pepper and thyme.  Instead of using a teaspoon or two of each, I used a tablespoon or two. This makes the recipe a little less Jamaican because allspice is usually the most prominent spice used in the rub.  Still, the additional cinnamon and black pepper helped to increase the sweetness and spiciness of the rub used to marinate the chicken.  A true Jamaican jerk recipe also calls for Scotch Bonnet peppers (or habanero peppers), which have a very high rating on the Scoville Scale, with anywhere from 100,000 Scoville Heat Units to 350,000 Scoville Heat Units.  (By contrast, a regular green pepper has 0 Scoville Heat Units and a jalapeno pepper has between 2,500 and 8,000 Scoville Heat Units).  Knowing that everyone does not like foods as spicy as I do, I decided that I would use the minimum number of peppers (2 per batch) allowed for in the recipe.  (Actually, I used slightly less than 2 per batch.) I also seeded the peppers and removed the veins along the side of the peppers to help reduce the piquancy of what are some of the hottest peppers out there. 

Adapted from
Serves 4-6

3 pounds of chicken (such as legs or thighs)
1 bunch of scallions
3-6 cloves of garlic minced
1-2 tablespoons of minced ginger
2-6 Scotch Bonnet chile peppers, minced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 tablespoon of ground allspice
2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of dry thyme
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1/4 cup of lime juice
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil

1.  Marinate the chicken.  Add all the ingredients to a large, non-reactive bowl, refrigerate and marinate for at least 2 to 3 hours, preferably overnight.

2.  Grill the chicken.  Wipe off excess marinade and grill the chicken pieces over a slow fire until cooked through.  The cooking times will vary depending upon the size of the chicken pieces and the number that you are grilling at the time. 

Grilling the chicken provides a great char to the chicken that contributes to the overall experience of eating this chicken.  If you cannot grill the chicken, you can roast the pieces in a 350°F oven until cooked through, which should take thirty to forty-five minutes.  I've roasted the chicken and it still turns out delicious.

After having prepared this chicken for a lot of guests, I have to say that the dish turned out well.  The unique twist of increasing the cinnamon and black pepper gave the chicken a rather unique, but very good, taste. While Jamaicans may take issue with the twists, I think that experimenting with recipes in this way is one of the greatest things about cooking.  Fortunately, it worked out well in this case.  


1 comment:

Paul said...

The trick I used at wine club to have a lot of Jerk chicken ready at once was to pre-cook it in a 200 degree oven in disposable aluminum roasting pans, then just crisped the chicken on the grill at the last minute. Still had to do two batches on a standard Weber Kettle grill due to space issues, but crisping takes just a few minutes vs hours to cook it through (even assuming I got by without my usual 2 level fire

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