In 2018, Food & Wine named this recipe one of our 40 best: There are as many takes on jerk chicken in Jamaica as there are cooks on the island, but most share the same method: Chicken is coated in a seasoning mixture dominated by spices and chiles, then grilled. This version comes from Paul Chung, a self-taught cook of Chinese-Jamaican descent who worked in the mail room at Food & Wine. It’s wonderfully spicy, smoky, and fragrant—everything you want jerk chicken to be. But what puts this one above all others? The key is including Chinese five-spice in the marinade: “This spark of cinnamon enhances the rich clove flavor imparted by the allspice berries,” Marcia Kiesel wrote. For best results, let the chicken marinate overnight, so the seasoning has time to thoroughly penetrate the meat. The chicken can also be roasted in the oven if desired.
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 medium scallions, chopped
2 Scotch bonnet chiles, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon five-spice powder
1 tablespoon allspice berries, coarsely ground
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) chickens, quartered
How to Make It
Combine onion, scallions, chiles, garlic, five-spice powder, allspice, black pepper, thyme, nutmeg, and salt in a food processor; process until mixture forms a coarse paste. With processor running, add soy sauce and oil in a steady stream. Transfer mixture to a large, shallow dish. Add chicken, and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Bring chicken to room temperature. Preheat grill to medium-high (about 450°F). Place chicken on oiled grill grates, and grill, uncovered, turning occasionally, until well browned and cooked through, 35 to 40 minutes. (Cover grill for a smokier flavor.) Transfer chicken to a platter and serve.
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