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Tangy Sort-Of Jerk Chicken

Chef Steven Brown flavors his jerk-style chicken with a highly spiced, tangy marinade, but there's something else that makes it so good: a serious dry-brining. "Season the daylights out of the chicken thighs with kosher salt," advises Brown. "Really season them. Think snow. Then let them sit for half an hour, but don't leave them for a whole episode of Breaking Bad--that's 47 minutes."

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6

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  • 12 chicken thighs (about 7 ounces each)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 1 small habanero, stemmed
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Coke
  • 1/4 tablespoon liquid smoke (optional)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil, plus more for brushing


  1. Arrange the chicken on a large baking sheet and season generously with salt. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Rinse the chicken and pat dry.
  2. Meanwhile, in a blender, puree the onion, scallions, habanero, garlic and ginger until chunky. Add the allspice, thyme, sugar, cayenne, black pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon and puree until very smooth. Transfer the puree to a large bowl and whisk in the vinegar, orange juice, lime juice, soy sauce, Coke and liquid smoke, then whisk in the 1/4 cup of oil. Add the chicken and turn to coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Light a grill and brush the grates with oil. Transfer the chicken to a large plate. Transfer the marinade to a medium saucepan and boil until reduced by half, about 15 minutes.
  4. Brush the chicken with oil and grill over moderate heat for 25 minutes, until lightly charred and cooked through. Brush the chicken with some of the marinade and grill for 1 minute. Serve the chicken with the remaining reduced marinade.

Suggested Pairing

Juicy, fruit-forward rosé.

Photo © Claire Thomas Published August 2012

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