I had been curious about this popular chicken recipe for a while now, but managed to pass it by due to the key ingredient: habaneros. Jamaican jerk spice is a very hot spice mixture native to that country, used in the style of cooking known as jerk, and I wasn’t sure just how spicy this would fan out for my girls! But I gave it a try, and learned about this particular cooking style: jerk cooking; originally from Jamaica, it has developed in United States, Canadian and Western European urban centers with Caribbean communities. The smoked technique has evolved over time from using pit fires to old oil barrels, and alternate cooking methods now include wood burning ovens or charcoal/gas grills. The key is to smoke the meat in barbecue style, but I ventured into this with the broil function on my oven!
The tangy, spicy rub is amazing! In reality, it’s the key element: a vinegary, intensely hot paste of dried herbs and habaneros. And since this Sunday is big on the barbecue traditional: think SUPER BOWL SUNDAY, I decided to adventure on a family-friendly version of the oh-so-awesome Jamaican barbecue. Instead of the ultra spicy habaneros, I stuck to jalapeños, with the hopes that my girls would still be able to enjoy it. And to be honest, it was a very successful attempt. The jalapeños could definitely be recognized and the vinegar adds such a great acidity, unique to any rub I had previously tried.
For the Jerk Paste
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
- 5 habanero peppers / 5 jalapeño peppers / 1/4 cup of hot sauce
- 2 tablespoons of white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of orange juice
- 1 garlic clove
- 3 tablespoons of chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons of dried basil
- 2 tablespoons of dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon of mustard
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and purée into a mixture with the consistency of thick tomato sauce. You can cook the chicken immediately after brushing it with the jerk paste, or marinate it, covered and refrigerated, for up to 12 hours. brush the jerk mixture on the entire chicken, or separated chicken parts. Lightly oil the grill rack or tray, or set the oven to broil. Cook, brushing ever so often until chicken is done, it can take from 20 to 40 minutes. The chicken should be lightly charred, the crispy chicken skin takes on a divine taste with the vinegary, hot jerk paste!