Friday, May 30, 2014

Eating the Americas: Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Eating the Americas

Last week we finally got to try another dish in our Eating the Americas project - Jerk Chicken.

Jerk seasoning includes allspice (also called pimento) and habanero or scotch bonnet peppers. Thyme is usually used in the seasoning, and it may also contain garlic, brown sugar, lime juice, rum, ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper. Almost any meat may be marinated in jerk seasoning, but I think chicken and pork are most common. The meat is then slow smoked over pimento/allspice wood.

Instead of mixing up my own jerk seasoning or marinade, I bought a bottle of Jamaican-style jerk marinade. The flavor wasn't nearly as spicy as I had expected, so perhaps the chicken should have been left in the marinade longer, or we should have basted the chicken with the sauce as it cooked. We did cook it in the smoker, using whole allspice mixed in with the woodchips, but finished it on the grill to get the extra dark color, and to make sure the chicken was fully cooked. We served the chicken with white rice and grilled mini-peppers. I guess the traditional Jamaican side dish to be served with this might be a little different, but this worked well for us!

Jamaican Jerk Chicken
1-1/2 cups bottle jerk marinade
4 lbs chicken pieces (I used drumsticks)

Put the chicken pieces and jerk sauce in a covered container in the fridge, and allow to marinate overnight, or longer if you want more intense flavor. (One recipe suggested two days; the instructions on the bottle of jerk marinade said only 30 minutes!) You may want to mix it up a couple of times to make sure all the pieces are well covered.

You will need allspice wood chips, or hickory wood chips with about 1/2 cup of whole allspice for smoking the chicken. I have not seen allspice wood chips anywhere, so we used hickory with whole allspice. Soak the wood chips and allspice in water for about 30 minutes before putting into the smoke box of a grill or barrel smoker. If using a gas grill, turn it on high after putting in the smoke box until smoke plumes out for a good 5 minutes; then reduce the heat to low (225*). If using a barrel smoker, heat it first, then add the wood chips to the smoker and get it smoking well. Add the chicken and smoke or grill with indirect heat for about two hours, or until the internal temperature is 160*. You may want to baste with the jerk sauce several times as it is cooking. 

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Dianna said...

Looks and sounds amazing! You are making me hungry! :) Have a wonderful weekend!

Lisa Boyle said...

I have never tried Jamaican chicken. It looks really good. Thanks for linking up with "Try a New Recipe Tuesday." Hope you can join us again this week.

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