- 4 Scotch bonnet or habanero chiles, stemmed and halved
- 5 small scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths
- 2 teaspoons chopped thyme
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark rum
- 2 tablespoons water
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 Cornish game hens (about 2 pounds each)
- In a blender, puree the Scotch bonnets with the scallions, thyme, garlic powder, brown sugar, soy sauce, dark rum and water. Season with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.
- Using kitchen scissors, cut out the backbone of each hen. Press down on the breasts to flatten the hens. Set them in a baking dish and coat them all over with the jerk paste. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 300°. Set the hens on 2 large rimmed baking sheets and bake for 45 minutes, until firm but not browned or cooked through.
- Meanwhile, light a grill. Grill the hens over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until cooked through and lightly charred in spots, about 20 minutes. Transfer the hens to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
The jerk paste can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.
Fiery jerk sauce obliterates the flavor of almost any wine. Instead, serve these hens with beer. Jamaicans would drink the local Red Stripe, a mild lager-style beer; for an American equivalent, look for the lightly malty Samuel Adams Boston Lager.