Every time I make Jerk Chicken, I’m reminded of the first time a boy tried to pick up my daughter. We were at a resort in Jamaica, hanging out by the pool and soaking up the sun. A boy about her age, came swimming by and asked her name and age. She replied that she was 9 years old. Then he says to her, “Wait until you get to 10. It’s magical!”
The other memory of Jamaica was the Jerk Chicken we ate almost every day. It was grilled with the right amount of char, smokiness, and a touch of sweetness. This isn’t the exact recipe, but it provides good “Jamaican Jerk” flavor. Despite the scotch bonnet pepper, the chicken is not spicy. However, you can add more if you like eating flames. I tend to leave it out because it’s hard to find and other pepper substitutes overpowers the unique flavor. I serve this Jerk Chicken with rice and on occasion, grilled pineapple, but it’s just as good by itself.
2 teaspoons allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup chopped onion
8 cloves garlic
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, sliced
3 scallions, sliced
3 limes, juiced
Splash low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
1 Scotch bonnet pepper, halved, plus more to taste
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 whole chicken, cut into 10 pieces (chicken breasts cut in half, cross-wise)
Combine all the marinade ingredients in a blender and process until to a smooth puree.
Add chicken pieces into a large resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag and massage the marinade into the chicken. Put the bag into a baking dish and let marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Transfer the chicken pieces to a baking sheet and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Bake in the oven until chicken is tender, about 45 minutes.
Finish cooking the chicken on a grill by preheating grill to high. Oil the grates. Place chicken pieces on grill rack and grill for 15 or until chicken is completely cooked and outside is slightly charred. Serve with lime wedges for some brightness.