Jerk cooking was developed by African slaves that escaped when the British took over Jamaica in the mid-to-late-1600s. They used what was available to them in the deep jungles, cooking meat slowly over a smoking fire.

Michael Condran
Michael Condran

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken, split into two halves
  • 8 cups chicken brine*
  • .5 cup jerk marinade**
  • 2 cups jerk barbecue sauce***
  • Oil, for oiling grill grates
  • Latex or vinyl gloves

Method:

  • Place the chicken in a large bowl or baking dish and pour the brine over it, making sure the chicken is fully submerged. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  • Rinse the chicken well. Wearing latex or vinyl gloves (Scotch bonnet chiles can remain on the skin for 24 hours!), rub the jerk marinade all over the chicken.
  • Place in a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  • Preheat a grill for cooking over indirect medium heat. Lightly oil the grill grates, then place the chicken skin-side down over indirect heat.
  • Grill, uncovered, turning the chicken every 5 to 6 minutes until the juices run clear when the thighs are pricked with a fork, 40 to 50 minutes.
  • Remove from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes to allow the juices to distribute equally.
  • Cut the chicken into quarters, separating the leg portions from the breast portions, and serve with jerk barbecue sauce.

Chicken Brine

Ingredients:

  • .5 cup kosher salt
  • .25 cup light brown sugar

Method:

  • Stir the salt and light brown sugar into 8 cups water in a pot and bring to a simmer, stirring to ensure that the salt and sugar completely dissolve.
  • Let cool to 38 degrees Fahrenheit before using.

Jerk Marinade

Ingredients:

  • .5 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 20 whole allspice berries
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped from stems and stems discarded
  • 2 bunches green onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 Scotch bonnet chiles
  • 1 knob fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped

Method:

  • Put the soy sauce, oil, salt, allspice, thyme, green onions, garlic, chiles, ginger, and onion in a food processor and puree until a smooth paste is formed, adding more oil if necessary. Set aside.

Jerk Barbecue Sauce

Ingredients:

  • .5 cup tomato paste
  • .5 cup jerk marinade
  • .25 cup molasses
  • .25 cup white vinegar
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 2 tsp tamarind puree
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • .5 tsp ground black pepper
  • .5 tsp liquid smoke
  • .5 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • Juice of 1 lime

Method:

  • In a nonreactive heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir together the tomato paste and 2 cups water and heat slowly, stirring, until well incorporated.
  • Add in the Jerk Marinade, molasses, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard powder, tamarind, celery salt, cumin, pepper, liquid smoke, thyme, and lime juice.
  • Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer until the sauce has thickened and reached the desired consistency.
  • Remove from the heat and let cool.

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