September 01, 2008

Jerk Chicken

One of the reasons that I grow scotch bonnets in my garden is that I love to make Jamaican Jerk Chicken on my BBQ. I had found a recipe for this dish in Gourmet Magazine many years ago and found that it was delicious. The recipe calls for 2 to 4 scotch bonnets or habaneros in the marinade. I know that this seems like far too much of the fiery chiles, but trust me, it works out well. You get a good amount of heat, but the citrus overtones of the chiles also come through.

The first time I made Jerk Chicken, I use Manzano Chiles that I happened to find in the supermarket. Manzanos are a form of habanero that have a sweet start and the heat is slow to come on your tounge. I have never found them again, but using them hooked me on the recipe. The next year, I started to grow the scotch bonnets since I wanted an authentic jamacian flavor for this recipe.

This year, I have been converted to once a month cooking methods and I have developed my jerk chicken recipe so that I can make multiples of it and freeze it away for later use. Basically, I make the marinade in my blender featuring chiles from my garden, pour it over the chicken in a ziploc, but instead of putting it in the fridge for 24 hours to marinate, I freeze it. When I take it out on cooking day, it will thaw and marinade in the fridge and be perfect. I decided to use chicken breast this time instead of chicken pieces so that I can make these on the contact grill during the winter and not have to light up the BBQ. I put away several meals of jerk chicken in this manner. A few of the meals have been made with scotch bonnets and a few of them with my fatali chiles. Both will be different, but delicous.


2 cups scallion, finely chopped
2 whole habañero chilies, seeded and minced (or use scotch bonnets)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
5 teaspoons ground allspice
3 teaspoons dry mustard
2 whole bay leaf, crushed
2 whole garlic clove, chopped
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon cinnamon
5 pounds chicken pieces, wing tips removed
vegetable oil, for grilling

Make the Marinade. In a food processor or blender purée the scallion, the 2 chilies, the soy sauce, the lime juice, the allspice, the mustard, the bay leaves, the garlic, the salt, the sugar, the thyme, and the cinnamon.

Divide the chicken parts between 2 heavy-duty resealable plastic bags and spoon the marinade over them, coating them well. Seal the bags, pressing out the excess air, and let the chicken marinate chilled, turning the bags over several times, for at least 24 hours and up to 2 days. Or you may freeze the chicken at this point for later use. When you are ready to use the frozen jerk chicken, let it defrost in the refridgerator for 24 hours before cooking. It will defrost and marinate at the same time.

On an oiled rack set 4 to 6 inches over glowing coals grill the chicken, in batches if necessary, and cover if possible, for 10 to 15 minutes on each side, or until it is cooked through. Transfer the chicken as it is cooked with tongs to a heated platter; keep it warm, covered loosely with foil, and garnish the platter with the additional chilies.

An alternate method of cooking is to use chicken breasts instead of pieces when you make the dish and then cook the chicken in a contact grill for approximately 10 to 12 minutes.

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