The paste is the foundation of Grilled Jamaican Jerk Chicken and its key ingredient is the infamous Scotch Bonnet pepper (sometimes called the habañero pepper), the hottest chile pepper in the world. This pepper is rated at between 150,000 and 300,000 on the Scoville unit measure of heat. To give you a basis for comparison, the jalapeño chile pepper is rated at between 2,500 and 5,000 Scoville units.
Scotch Bonnet chile peppers are difficult to find fresh, although sometimes you can pick them up in Spanish markets where Caribbean and South American products are sold. It is easier to find the traditional hot Caribbean table sauce that uses the Scotch Bonnet as its main ingredient. The wildly aromatic taste is unique and unmistakable, the sauce is exceptionally hot, and while it is known by many names it is always made from a mixture of cheap yellow mustard (good mustard would ruin the authenticity of the preparation), sweeteners, and the chile pepper itself. I have personally developed a sauce for the East Coast Grill that we call Inner Beauty Hot Sauce. It is the star player in a line of different dishes to which we affix the words “from Hell,” as in Pasta from Hell.
Here are two versions of the recipe, one using fresh Scotch Bonnet chile peppers and the other using the bottled sauce which is very easy to find if you’ve got some pals heading south to the Caribbean, live near a Spanish market, or are in striking distance of my restaurant.
I like to use chicken thighs in this dish because they have center bones and so can withstand the long cooking time on the grill and still be juicy. If you prefer serving boneless chicken, it’s very easy to remove the one bone from the thigh before serving. So let’s discuss how we make Grilled Jamaican Jerk Chicken at home, shall we?
Recipe By Chriss Schlesinger
Ingredients for Grilled Jamaican Jerk Chicken
- Jamaican Jerk Rub
- ¼ Cup Inner Beauty (See Sources) Or Other Caribbean Hot Sauce or 10 Puréed Scotch Bonnet Chile Peppers (You May Substitute 15 of Your Favorite Fresh Chile Peppers).
- 2 Tablespoons Dried Rosemary
- 2 Tablespoons Parsley, Chopped
- 2 Tablespoons Dried Basil
- 2 Tablespoons Dried Thyme
- 2 Tablespoons Mustard Seeds
- 3 Scallions, Finely Chopped
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- Juice Of 2 Limes
- ¼ Cup Cheap Yellow Mustard
- 2 Tablespoons Orange Juice
- 2 Tablespoons White Vinegar
- 6 Chicken Thighs, With Legs Attached
How to make Grilled Jamaican Jerk Chicken
- Combine all the rub ingredients in a food processor or blender, and blend them into a paste, making sure that all the ingredients are fully integrated. The paste should be approximately the consistency of a thick tomato sauce. If it is too thick, thin it out with a little more white vinegar.
- Cover the paste and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours for the flavors to blend together. Overnight is the ideal amount of time to give them to get acquainted. (Note that if you want to avoid making a fresh batch every time you make this dish, you can multiply the amount of paste easily. Don’t worry about it going bad, since it keeps almost indefinitely.)
- Rub the chicken thighs with the paste and place them on the grill over very low heat. If you have a covered cooker, put the coals to one side, the chicken on the other, and cover.
- Cook about 1 hour without a cover or ½ hour if covered. The key here is to use a very low heat. You need to be patient and give yourself plenty of time. The chicken is technically done when the meat is opaque and the juices run clear. However, the ideal is about 10 to 15 minutes past that point, when the meat pulls away from the bone easily. It is very hard to overcook this. In fact you can only screw it up if you burn the paste by having the heat too high. The longer the chicken stays on the grill, the more superior the smoky flavor.
- After cooking, separate the leg from the thigh by cutting at the natural joint between them.
- Grilled Jamaican Jerk Chicken is ready to be served.
- Serve one leg or thigh per person accompanied by a few spoonfuls of Banana-Guava Ketchup (see recipe below). Serves 4 as an entrée or 6 as a light meal
Serving Suggestions: For a full-on Caribbean dinner, serve this with white rice, Your Basic Black Beans, and Grilled Bananas, or with Salad of Green Mango, Coconut, and Hot Chile Peppers and Plátanos Fritos. You might want to sip on a Last Resort before, during, and/or after dinner.
How to Make Banana-Guava Ketchup
Ingredients for 2 cups
- 1 Yellow Onion, Diced
- 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- 5 Ripe Bananas (Anywhere From Totally Yellow To Spotted Brown) (About 2 Pounds), Peeled and Broken Into Pieces.
- 4 Ounces (½ Cup) Guava Paste Combined With 1 Cup Orange Juice Or 12-ounce can Guava Nectar (You May Substitute 8 Ounces [1 Cup] Of Guava Jelly Combined With ½ Cup Of Orange Juice)
- 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
- 2½ Tablespoons Raisins
- 1 Tablespoon Curry Powder
- ½ Cup Fresh Orange Juice
- 2 Tablespoons White Vinegar
- 4 Tablespoons Lime Juice (About 2 Limes)
- Salt And Freshly Cracked Black Pepper To Taste
- In a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat, sauté the onion in vegetable oil until transparent, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the banana pieces to the pan and cook over moderate heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid sticking.
- Add the guava paste mixture, brown sugar, raisins, curry powder, orange juice, and 1 tablespoon of the vinegar. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for about 15 minutes. The mixture should have the consistency of applesauce when hot, but will firm up as it cools.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining tablespoon of vinegar, the lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. You may serve this hot or at room temperature. It will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 6 weeks.
Banana-guava ketchup is certainly not a traditional accompaniment to jerk chicken, but the ingredients reproduce the authentic spirit of the dish and the sweet richness of the ketchup helps people who need a cool taste against the chicken. Sweet versus hot is always a nice contrast, and both components are loud, strong flavors, so they can stand up to each other—an essential requirement in food as well as human relationships.
I use guava paste in the dish. You can probably find it in your local Spanish or Portuguese store. If you can’t, substitute guava jelly or canned guava nectar. If no guava products at all are to be found in your neck of the woods, just leave it out—the bananas can carry the ketchup by themselves.
I hope you enjoy this Grilled Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe.
You Can Try These Too:
- Grilled Chicken Kebabs Turkish Style Recipe
- Grilled Chicken Salad With Vegetables Recipe
- Grilled Chicken Breast With Basil & Thyme
(tags. jamaican grilled jerk chicken recipe , smoked jerk chicke n)