Vibrant marinade makes this jerk chicken stand out

THE WASHINGTON POST – In his cookbook, Son of a Southern Chef: Cook with Soul, chef Lazarus Lynch writes that in his neighbourhood in Queens, New York, there’s a place called St Best Jerk Spot that jerks and smokes all day.

“You can smell the jerk blocks away; it’s wonderful. I tear up at the smell of jerk thinking about its spicy punch, and because the way I feel about jerk could actually make me cry. Jerk chicken can be as spicy or as mild as you’d like it to be.”

Serve this with Mango Chutney as a condiment, and with a side of rice and peas or coconut rice.

JERK CHICKEN

Six to eight servings

MAKE AHEAD: The chicken needs to marinate for eight to 24 hours in the refrigerator before grilling.

The wet jerk marinade can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week.

Jerk Chicken. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

Ingredients

For the wet jerk marinade

Two cups chopped yellow onions

Two cups chopped scallions

Two habanero chiles

One cup fresh cilantro

Quarter cup mango nectar

Two tablespoons soy sauce

One tablespoon apple cider vinegar

One tablespoon dark brown sugar

One tablespoon ground allspice

One teaspoon browning sauce

One teaspoon kosher salt

One teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

One teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, or a generous quarter teaspoon dry

For the chicken

Eight to 10 skin-on bone-in chicken pieces

Two cups Wet Jerk Marinade, divided

One cup your favourite store-bought barbeque sauce

Half cup low-sodium chicken stock

Canola oil, for grilling

Mango Chutney, for serving (see related recipe)

Steps

Make the wet jerk marinade: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the onions, scallions, chiles, cilantro, mango nectar, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, allspice, browning sauce, salt, pepper and thyme and pulse about 10 times, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until almost smooth but still slightly chunky. (Depending on the size of your food processor bowl, you may need to gradually add the ingredients as you process them.) Use right away or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until needed. (The recipe makes three cups of marinade; you’ll need two cups for the chicken.)

Make the chicken: In a large bowl, combine the chicken with one and half cups of the marinade, turning the pieces to coat evenly. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for eight to 24 hours.

Let the chicken rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before cooking.

While the chicken is resting, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the remaining half cup marinade, the barbecue sauce and stock and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring often, until thickened, about five minutes. If the sauce begins to scorch, lower the heat slightly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce for one more minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Prepare a gas grill for direct heat, on medium-high (450 degrees). Grease the grates with cooking oil.

Grill the chicken without moving it, skin side down, until golden brown and the chicken no longer sticks to the grill, 10 to 12 minutes. Flip the chicken and reduce the heat to medium. Cover the grill and cook the chicken, without flipping, until dark brown, 30 to 40 minutes more, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat, not touching the bone, registers 165 degrees.

After the first 20 minutes, brush the chicken with the jerk sauce on all sides. Continue to brush now and then, brushing more frequently as you get close to the chicken being cooked, until you run out of sauce.

Serve the chicken warm with Mango Chutney on the side.

NOTE: For extra smoke flavour, soak wood chips (apple, hickory or pecan) in cold water for about six hours, then place them in a smoke tray or wrapped in aluminium foil with holes poked in the top. Set the chips over the burner in your grill.

Cook the chicken over indirect heat.

Nutrition per serving | 464 calories, 37g protein, 20g carbohydrates, 26g fat, 7g saturated fat, 137mg cholesterol, 731mg sodium, 2g dietary fibre, 13g sugar