Try this recipe for a taste of the islands – it’s one of Chef Ronald Smith’s favorite recipes, and a Jamaican classic. Fragrant, fiery hot and smoky all at once, jerk chicken is as much about the cuisine of Jamaica as the culture. Through a slow-smoke method, the age-old Caribbean practice of jerking has long been used to cure meat either by marinating or rubbing it with a seasoning and then slow-grilling it over wood. Try this recipe with a charcoal grill – and some pimento wood – to enjoy the flavors of Jamaica at home!

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Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Makes 4 servings


4 whole chicken legs, bone-in and skin-on
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Kosher salt

Jerk Marinade

3 pieces scallions white and green parts, sliced
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 Scotch bonnet chili peppers, stems removed (more if it should be very spicy)
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
½ tablespoon salt, more for sprinkling
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
juice of 1 lime
juice of ½ orange

How to Prepare Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Combine all the ingredients listed for Jerk marinade in a food processor and puree until smooth. Pour marinade over the chicken and marinate for 12 to 24 hours. Bring the chicken to room temperature before cooking and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt. Barbecue the chicken in a charcoal grill slowly over low heat until fully cooked, turning regularly and baste with some of the remaining marinade while cooking. The chicken is cooked when chicken juices are completely clear, usually about 30 minutes depending on the heat of the grill and the size of the chicken legs. Pair with rice and a Red Stripe or your favorite rum cocktail!

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