Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Grilled Jerk Chicken with Mango Salsa

Jerk is both a style of cooking and a spice mixture (dry rub or marinade) that originated in Jamaica. Over the years and after experimenting with a number of recipes, I've come up with my own rendition of jerk seasoning which works great as a marinade for grilled chicken or shellfish. It includes the traditional ingredients of allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, ground cloves, black pepper, fresh thyme, fresh ginger, garlic, red onion, scallions, and also lime juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, vegetable oil and habanero peppers (hard to find scotch bonnets in our local markets). Everything is blended until smooth in a food processor and poured over the meat to marinate overnight. I like to use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs because the meat stays super moist and tender, and the skin becomes delectably browned, crispy and oh-so-fragrant on the grill. Great served with fresh mango salsa and roasted garlic potato salad on the side.

5.5 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 10 pieces), trimmed of excess fat
4 scallions, cut into 1" sections
4 large cloves, garlic, peeled & coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp. allspice
2 tsp. black pepper
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
3-4 Scotch bonnets or habanero peppers, seeded & coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 1 large or 2 med. limes)
3 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil

Fresh Mango Salsa: http://thegrubfiles.blogspot.com/2011/07/jerk-shrimp-with-mango-red-onion.html

Roasted Garlic Potato Salad: http://thegrubfiles.blogspot.com/2012/07/roasted-garlic-potato-salad.html

My recipe for Grilled Jerk Shrimp (basically the same spices, with a little less salt & served with white rice & extra limes on the side): http://thegrubfiles.blogspot.com/2011/07/jerk-shrimp-with-mango-red-onion.html 

1. Place all ingredients except chicken (of course) into a blender or food processor. Blend/pulse until just smooth.

2. Place chicken thighs into a large 1 gallon Ziploc bag; pour in marinade, squeeze out as much air as possible, and seal the bag. Use your hands to pat the marinade around the chicken to distribute evenly. Place the bag flat down in the frig so all the pieces are in a single layer and covered with marinade. Let sit at least 24 hours before grilling, turning the bag once or twice.

3. One hour before grilling, remove the chicken from the frig and let stand at room temperature.

4. Prepare your grill (we concentrate the brickets near the center of the grill for direct grilling, leaving the sides cooler for indirect grilling). Once the temperature of the charcoal has reached about 400F, sear the chicken, skin side down for 5 minutes, turn over and sear another 5 minutes. Remove chicken to sides of grill over indirect heat, skin side up, cover, and cook 45 minutes to an hour or until meat thermometer registers 165F.

5. Serve with mango salsa and/or guacamole and roasted garlic potato salad.

Red onion, scallions, lime, habanero peppers, garlic & ginger.

All chopped up, including some fresh thyme.

Cinnamon, black pepper, nutmeg, brown sugar, allspice & soy sauce.

Chicken thighs.

Place jerk seasoning ingredients into a blender or food processor.

Blend until just smooth.

Place chicken thighs in a 1 gallon Ziploc bag and add marinade. Refrigerate 24 hours and turn bag over once or twice.

Sear the chicken over direct heat (400F), 5 minutes per side, then move to the sides over indirect heat, cover and grill for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until internal temp of the meat reaches 165F.


Serve with mango salsa and/or guacamole & potato salad on the side.

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