If you’ve never heard of it before you really don’t know what you’re missing. If you’ve been lucky enough to travel to Jamaica and have this right on the sandy beaches as you roast in the carribean sun you know what this is all about.
Now here’s my big confession…I’ve never been to Jamaica! I can hear it now…”How could he possibly know how to make jerk chicken and have the nerve to call his close to authentic if he’s never had it in Jamaica?!”
Easy. I didn’t and I won’t. I will say this. I have made it for a few people who HAVE been to Jamaica; and recently for some people FROM Jamaica and other places in the Caribbean and have been told it’s as close as they’ve had since they’ve been there. I’ll take it.
The big secret? The wood. Jamaican jerk chicken is traditionally cooked over Pimento wood. So, I found some. I got it at Ontario Gas BBQ in Vaughn. It is not cheap but worth it in my opinion. You could make it without the wood but you will be missing something.
As for the marinade, here comes another shocking secret, I use a bottled marinade. Now here’s the catch. It’s from Jamaica. I have made the marinade from scratch before but found I spent 10 times longer and 10 times as much $$$ to produce a marinade that tastes exactly like the bottle that’s $4. I have tried as many brands as I can but I prefer the Graces brand. Now there is one benefit to making your own. You can control the heat.
Now for the prep. I try to marinade my chicken pieces at least 24 hours. I prefer using bone in, skin on, dark meat but use whatever floats your boat. Place in a zip lock bag and add as much or as little marinade as you like. It will seem like you need a lot as it is a thick paste but a little does a big job. I personally will get the pack of thighs from Costco and use almost the whole bottle if not the whole thing. It will be hot. Not “hot” like when you order wings and they aren’t. I mean tear producing hot. I love it.
The cooking process is easy. Cook on a smoker preferably or indirectly on a BBQ at about 275 degrees until the chicken is fully cooked. I will blast it at the end over full flame to give some char and crispify any skin. Make sure you either use the pimento wood in the smoker or make a smoke pouch for the BBQ. The wood is good.
Make sure you have lots of drinks available and go at it.