This smoky, spice-infused chicken from St. Croix native chef Digby Stridiron’s Braata restaurant in Frederiksted, St. Croix, is almost as good as a trip to the West Indies. For a less-spicy marinade, remove the seeds from the habaneros. Be sure to buy tamarind paste, not concentrate, and let the chicken rest for the full 30 minutes for the most tender results.

May 2019


Credit: Victor Protasio

Recipe Summary test

1 hr 10 mins
14 hrs 50 mins




Make the jerk marinade:
  • Place allspice, peppercorns, and cardamom pods in a high-powered blender; process on high speed until spices are finely ground, about 30 seconds. Add scallions, ginger, chiles, garlic, 1/4 cup water, tamarind paste, thyme, soy sauce, and oil; process on high speed until mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. Reserve 3 tablespoons marinade for jerk brine; cover and chill remaining marinade until ready to use.

Make the jerk brine:
  • Stir together 3 tablespoons reserved jerk marinade, 2 cups water, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until salt is dissolved. Remove from heat, and add ice. Let brine stand until ice is melted, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the chicken:
  • Place chicken quarters in a large plastic container. Pour vinegar over chicken; rub vinegar into chicken using lime halves. Discard limes and any leftover vinegar. Pour cooled jerk brine over chicken in container; press chicken down to submerge. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 6 hours. Remove chicken from brine; discard brine. Return chicken to container. Add remaining jerk marinade, and rub to coat chicken. Cover and chill at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

  • Rub excess marinade off chicken quarters; place chicken on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle chicken with 1 tablespoon salt, and let stand at room temperature while smoker preheats.

  • Prepare smoker according to manufacturer’s instructions using 5 pounds pimento or pecan wood chunks. Bring internal temperature to 250°F to 275°F; maintain temperature for 15 to 20 minutes. Place chicken quarters on grate, skin side up, and smoke, covered, until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 160°F, 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours, adding wood as needed to maintain smoker temperature of 250°F to 275°F.

  • Remove chicken from smoker; place in a large roasting pan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, and let chicken steam 30 minutes. Unwrap chicken, sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and serve.

Suggested Pairing

Jamaican lager beer.