Hailing from Africa and further spiced-up in Jamaica, Jerk Chicken has become a street-side favorite in the Caribbean. Its original spicy and smoky taste give it a distinct flavor and aroma, evoking the street stalls and beach stands of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. I think the most fitting way to eat this chicken is on a white styrofoam plate with plenty of napkins (there are never enough!). Just don't touch your face or rub your eyes, because
the sauce is loaded with peppers!
You don't have to go to the Caribbean to try this island favorite, though. The inspiration for this recipe comes from Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday),and where better to celebrate than New Orleans, one of the soul food capitals of the U.S. Soul food has its origins in the flavors of African, French, and Native American cuisine, and it is never shy of flavor, as demonstrated in this Jerk Chicken recipe. Marinate it for a couple of hours in the spicy jalapeño rub, and you won't need to add a thing to the chicken, except maybe a side of cornbread. I hope you enjoy a full-flavored Mardi Gras celebration and discover a bit of the South in this recipe!
Ingredients (Serves 6-8)
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 medium-size jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons minced scallions
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 Tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces or 8 breasts, skin removed
1. Place ingredients in an immersion blender cup or regular blender, combine the wine, jalapeno peppers (remove all seeds and mince flesh), scallions, vegetable oil, crushed garlic clove, allspice, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg, and soy sauce. Blend until the sauce is the same texture throughout.
2. Place chicken pieces in a 13” X 9” pan and rub the spice mixture on the chicken pieces thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator at least 8 hours or overnight.
3. Heat oven to 375º F. Remove plastic wrap and bake chicken pieces for 45 minutes - 1 hour, or cooked through and fork tender. Carefully check the thighs and legs, as they will take the longest cooking time.
Suggestion for smoky flavor: Although chicken is nice and tender baked in the oven, if you would like more texture and a char-grilled flavor, place cooked chicken on a heated grill or under the broiler for a couple minutes and serve immediately. You can also choose to reheat chicken this way from the refrigerator.
Served with BBQ sandwich and Spoon Bread