If you haven’t made jerk chicken before I suggest you get busy with it as soon as possible. It’s packed with the most amazing flavours imaginable and it’s a carnival in your mouth. The spices give warm depth and the chilli adds heat. This is the kind of dish that works well for a weeknight supper, but also one you could whip out when you entertain.
I’m sure every jerk chicken recipe tastes great, and I’m not saying this is the best ever jerk chicken recipe (although it might be), it’s a case of looking at the classic spice and aromatics that go into the dish and then modifying to your own taste.
I have used a lot of garlic and ginger because I love how they add a punch to the chicken, but I’ve left it quite mild from a chilli perspective because I don’t like abrasive heat. I ground all the spices freshly and it is probably the most predominant flavour in the mix, but the hint of cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar really add so much value. I used dark muscovado sugar and liked how the molasses flavours really worked here.
It’s important to marinate the chicken overnight. This makes a world of difference with the spices seeping through the flesh. I’ve kept my recipe quite mild and only used one jalapeño chilli (seeds in), but if you like things more fiery, add another or use a scotch bonnet or habanero instead.
Cook’s notes – I like to give the chicken a quick fry before they go in the roasting pan to render some of the fat and to crisp up the skin. This is not entirely necessary and if you would prefer to skip this step and go straight to the roasting stage. Your dish will be a little fattier though. Adjust the time up to ensure the chicken is cooked through. Use a separate pan to brown the meat in. The bits of onion and garlic that might cling to the chicken from the marinade will blacken the pan quickly.
I like to serve this with a mix of brown and wild rice. The brown rice has a nutty flavour and is healthier, and the wild rice gives it a nice texture. It’s the perfect side to soak up all those delicious juices.
Oh, and top tip, if your thyme is looking a little dry and old, dip it into boiling water for 3 seconds to totally rejuvenate it.
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Recipe – feeds 4
The tastiest jerk chickenPrint Recipe
- 8 free-range chicken thighs– bone in and skin on
- splash of olive oil
- 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp all spice
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 6 cm ginger minced
- 4-6 sprigs thyme
- 8 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 2 limes- juiced
- 1 Tbsp demarara / muscavado sugar
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1-2 jalapeno chilli finely chopped
- 1 shallot or half a brown onion finely chopped
- Make this the day before
- Place the chicken thighs into a large Ziploc bag and mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Pour this over the chicken in the bag and massage it all together until the chicken is well coated.
- Store in the fridge overnight, flipping the bag over when / if you remember to do this.
- Preheat the oven to 200C and get your rice on the go.
- Heat a splash of olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan, remove 4 thighs and shake off as much of the marinade as possible. Fry the skin side down until golden, flip and lightly brown the other side.
- Wipe the pan down if it has burned bits on the bottom and repeat this for the remaining 4 thighs.
- In a large casserole dish with a lid (or a roasting tray with foil) drizzle over the Worcestershire sauce. Place the chicken pieces on top. Pour over the marinade from the bag and spread it evenly over the chicken. Pace in the hot oven and roast with the lid/foil on for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and roast for a further 10-15 minutes.
- Chicken is cooked when the internal temperature is 75C / 165F.
- Serve with rice which you can cook while the chicken is roasting. I love a combination of wild and brown rice.