On Vacay With a Jerk

jerk chicken
As you are reading this, I’m in a land far, far away. Hopefully, the sun is shining, despite the gloomy 10 day forecast from the week before, and we’re out on the beautiful white sandy beaches of Antigua (which is pronounced Antee’ga, mind you) for the next few days. Who knows, we may even be scuba diving or viewing the island by helicopter by this point. At any rate, you are not here. I’m sorry to rub it in folks, but it is the truth. So instead, I’m leaving you with one more mouth-watering taste of the Caribbean – if the view on the hotel website isn’t enough for you – jerk chicken. Meanwhile, we’ll be eating all sorts of other tasty treats on our much-needed and well-deserved getaway.

Yeah I know – jerk seasoning is Jamaican in origin. I wasn’t born yesterday. But last time I checked, Jamaica was in the Caribbean and so is Antigua. So it fits, in a way. And regardless, it fits better than the fried green tomato recipe I was going to leave you with.

jerk in blender

Now the hubs, he is a pretty decent cook. He is the reigning Iron Chef, remember? I give him a hard time occasionally, but it is generally warranted. For instance, you may remember a time when I was in culinary school when the home cooking was limited? Yes, just recently. He practically starved … or so he says. But one night, he decided on a pizza from the Homemade Pizza Company. Now this joint makes great pizza, but you have to bake it yourself. No major feat, right? Well for the hubs, he somehow managed to burn a big ol’ hole in his wrist when taking the pizza out. Moral of the story – griller he is, baker he is not. At all.

And although he can’t bake, he does get fascinated with certain types of cooking. Primarily grilling, which also includes smoking and the use of wood chips. Thus his excitement when watching a Tyler’s Ultimate episode earlier this summer and seeing his “Ultimate Jerk Chicken” made by use of a rigged-up, in-house smoker. Ten minutes later he’d printed the recipe, shoved it in my face and said, “I want this, and I’m going to make it all by myself.” Well, well! And, ok!

wood chips

And so it was. This dish became a project for him and he set out to make it while I was in an early-out class (meaning 8 instead of 11). And he promised to take pictures. Although the marinade-making part was done the night before, so I did get to help, er, watch him make the sauce and snap a few pictures. Oh, and I got to butcher the chicken. Chris didn’t watch Caroline’s video tutorial, but maybe you should if you don’t know how. Buying whole chickens saves money – so go get your learn on and stop buying it already cut, will you?!

Since I was busy getting my learn on, I can’t tell you about the actual process and how easy or hard it was, but I can tell you the end result was outstanding. The chicken was smoked in a roaster over the grill and then baked in the oven for the last hour. It was a long process, but well worth the wait. And I think that’s because he started late and because hubs doesn’t always multi-task well, not because the process in and of itself was long.

smoking chicken

This would be an excellent meal for company, and is sure to impress guests. The sauce had a great kick to it but was also smooth and tangy. It is definitely better than store-bought jerk spices and marinades, and you can taste each component – the lime, the brown sugar, the ginger, cinnamon and definitely the pepper! If you have a food processor, you have no reason to ever buy the crap at the store again. You literally dump the ingredients in and push ‘on’.

And look at that shiny chicken – just makes you want to lick the mess outta this screen, doesn’t it?

The Ultimate Jerk Chicken
Adapted from Tyler Florence; serves 4

Printable version (cool, eh?)

Hubs can surely grill and now ‘smoke’. He isn’t big on sides though. You don’t have to be either – this goes great with some grilled corn on the cob and a little cilantro or basil butter (or plain butter, if you insist). Next time, I’d make
Tyler’s corn porridge that he made on the same show, but if you beat me to it, lemme know how it is!

2 t allspice
1/2 t g cinnamon
1/2 t g nutmeg
1/2 onion
8 cloves garlic or 1 head
1 (1″) piece fresh ginger, sliced
3 scallions, sliced
3 limed, juiced
splash low sodium soy sauce
1/4 c evoo, plus some for drizzling
kosher salt and finely ground black pepper
6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
1 Scotch bonnet or Habanero pepper
1/4 c packed light brown sugar
1 whole free-range chicken (~5lbs), cut into 8 pieces
limes for garnish
parsley for garnish
smoking chips, soaked in water for 15 minutes

Making jerk marinade. Combine all ingredients in processor (through brown sugar) and process until smooth puree. Season as needed.

Add chicken pieces into a large resealable plastic bag and pour in marinade. Put bag in baking dish and let marinate in fridge overnight.

Preheat grill to high.

Prepare a table-top smoker or take a roasting tray, line it with foil and add some soaked wood chips to the bottom. Place a wire rack over the top, upside down, and lay chicken pieces over the chips on the rack. Cover with foil and grill over high heat. Smoke for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300 F.

Transfer chicken pieces to a baking sheet and drizzle with evoo. Bake until chicken is tender, about 1 hour. Remove chicken and place on serving platter garnished with lime and parsley.

2 thoughts on “On Vacay With a Jerk

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