In Jamaica, jerk chicken is on the level of a national dish. You can find it everywhere on the island, from 5 star restaurants to roadside barbecue stands!
What you need:
- 1 bottle Doc’s Jamaican Jerk Sauce
- Chicken thighs
- Wood chips for smoking
- A grill or an oven
- Patience and Red Stripe Beer (patience enhancer)
Warning: This is a four(4) Red Stripe recipe and should not be attempted without proper beer refrigeration (ice cooler works good).
In a large bowl, place the chicken one or two pieces at time and gently pull back the skin of each piece.
Add a small amount of Doc’s Jamaican Jerk Sauce directly on the meat.
Put the skin back to its original position then flip the chicken pieces over and add a small amount of the Jerk Sauce to the bottom.
- Cover and refrigerate the bowl of coated chicken and allow it to marinate with the Jerk Sauce for at least 3 hours (up to 24 hours).
- 20 minutes before building a fire in the grill soak about 8 cups worth of wood chips in water, Use any kind of wood chips exceptMesquite. Mesquite chips have such a strong flavor profile, they will ruin the authenticity and the flavor of the Jerk Chicken and make it bitter (trust me, I’ve already made this mistake). Hickory or oak are the best to use for an added mellow, yet neutral, smoke flavor.
- Using a charcoal grill, build a fire using only ½ of the grill. Let the coals burn hotuntil they are covered with an even layer of white ash.
- At this point, take a minute to open a cold Red Stripe beer and take a few slugs.
- When the coals are hot and relatively even, heatwise, close all the air intakes on your grill and close the lid to let the interior come up to heat. Wait a few minutes to see how hot the inside of the grill gets. If you have a thermometer on your grill you will want to bring the temp down to below 300 degrees before you put the chicken on (this may require sprinkling some water on the fire).
- When your grill is running steady at 300 or below, add the wet wood chips on top of the coals.
- Place the marinated chicken, skin up, anywhere except on the gratesdirectly above the coals (DO NOT BASTE with any more Jerk Sauce during the first ¾ of grilling time).
- After you have the chicken pieces situated, close the lid (I like to place some of the chicken on the warming rack of my grill to begin with to test out the heat levels for different parts of the grill).
- Putting the cold chicken on the grill will lower the temperature from around 300 to about 225, which is what you want. Try to keep the temperature of your grill at about 225 degrees for the rest of the cooking process. If you don’t have a thermometer, keep the heat level low-and-slow.
*DO NOT flip the chicken over to the skin-side-down on the grill-grates during the cooking time, not until the very end. Heat and gravity will allow the fat in the skin to slowly melt over the meat and, in essence, marinate the chicken with moisture throughout the cooking process.
- Check the chicken about every 15 to 20 minutes and look at the bottom-side of each piece for dark grill marks and move the pieces around according to how fast they are cooking so that all the pieces will be done at roughly the same time (you will find hot-spots on your grill where the pieces cook a little faster).
- In about a half hour or so you will notice the skin getting golden-colored and the bottoms of the pieces getting dark brown. This is exactly what you want! Open another Red Stripe, close the lid, smoke-em-if-you-got-em and relax.
You aren’t done yet.
- After an hour and a half to an hour and three-quarters (this is where it gets tricky) check your pieces of chicken for doneness. The way you can tell if chicken is cooked perfectly: 1) squeeze a few pieces with a pair of tongs. When chicken is thoroughly cooked it will lose that squishy feel and become firm. 2) The meat will pull back from the bone.
- When you are pretty sure the chicken is thoroughly cooked, cook it another 15 minutes! And it is during this last 15 minutes that you will baste the chicken pieces with more Doc’s Jamaican Jerk Sauce
- Add about a teaspoon of Jerk Sauce to the top of each chicken piece, close the lid and let it caramelize (about 5 to 7 minutes)
- Flip the chicken over and add more Jerk Sauce to the bottom-side of each piece, close the lid and let it caramelize (another 5 to 7 minutes).
- Presto, the chicken is done! Jah Mon, open another Red Stripe and dig in!
Oven Baking the Jerk Chicken:
- Follow the instructions above to marinate the chicken pieces.
- Bake the marinated chicken in a large oven dish on the middle rack in the oven for a total of 1 hour and 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
- After 1 hour take the baking dish out of the oven and drain most of the fat off.
- Baste each piece of chicken with a generous amount of Jerk Sauce and return to the oven for 15 minutes.