This Authentic Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe begins with a highly seasoned and flavorful spice marinade that infuses chicken thighs before they are grilled (or baked) to perfection. Pair with Rice and Peas or serve along side Brown Stew Chicken for a truly authentic Caribbean meal.
1small Scotch Bonnet, Serrano or Jalapeno Pepper (Optional, in order from hottest to mildest)
Begin by massaging chicken with the red palm oil, making sure every surface is coated.
Place the allspice into a mortar and pulverize it; then place the thyme into the mortar and do the same. (You may use an electric coffee grinder or a food processor for this step, however your grinder should be one only used for spices otherwise the quality of your coffee may suffer.)
Finely mince the garlic, onion, and pepper if you like it hot, then combine with the allspice and thyme. To minimize the heat remove the pith before mincing – it is the white rib of peppers not the seeds that are the hottest.
Combine all the remaining ingredients and slather 1½ Tablespoons of the mixture over the chicken, turning it over to coat the underside as well. Set aside any remaining sauce in a covered container and refrigerate.
Place the chicken in a glass baking dish, cover with plastic wrap (you may also use a sealable, gallon size plastic storage bag) and place into the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, remove the baking dish with the chicken from the refrigerator approximately 45 minutes before cooking to allow the meat to reach room temperature. You can either bake or grill the chicken.
To Bake Chicken
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once the oven reaches 350 degrees, place the chicken into the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove chicken and baste with the liquid that has drained from the jerk sauce and turn down the oven to 325 degrees.
Cook for approximately 1 hour basting every 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to slightly cool. Serve with the reserved jerk sauce as a condiment if desired.
To Grill Chicken
In Jamaica, the grate of the traditional BBQ grills keeps the meat at least 6 inches away from the coals allowing the meat to cook slowly at a lower temperature. Therefore, I recommend you set the grill to a low heat, place chicken skin-side up and cook covered for at least 30 minutes.
Turn chicken over and cook for at least 30 more minutes. Baste chicken with the reserve jerk sauce during the last 10 minutes of grilling and serve.
Tip: In Jamaica, the grate of the traditional BBQ grills keeps the meat at least 6 inches away from the coals allowing the meat to cook slowly at a lower temperature. Therefore, I recommend you set the grill to a low heat.Tip: I grew up eating hot sauce so I love the heat; but for novices I strongly suggest using a Jalapeno or no pepper at all when first attempting to make Jerk Chicken. You can always add more heat later with a dash of hot sauce or a pinch of cayenne, according to your taste buds.