The first time I had jerked chicken I was in Key West on vacation. I have always loved spicy foods and wanted to try something different. I was hooked after the first bite. There are many kinds of Jerk seasonings in the spice aisle at the local market. I like to use 3 different types when making my chicken, paste, wet, and dry. I also add a little extra crushed red pepper for more heat. It takes 3 steps to make my jerked chicken. I start off with a quality jerk paste. I have made my own from scratch several times and enjoyed it but for this recipe I used a store bought because of my work schedule. I like to use thighs or breasts because both cuts absorb marinaded very well.
1 package chicken thighs (large tray)
1 teaspoon of Jerk paste per thigh (Busha Browne's brand)
I cup of Jamaican style jerk sauce (World Harbors brand)
2 tablespoons of dry jerk seasoning (Penezey's)
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
I start by trimming the chicken thighs similar to how I make BBQ Competition thighs. I trim any fat off the edges of the thigh and make them uniform in size and shape. I then take the skin and peel it back and scrape the fat off the underside of the skin. This is a time consuming process but will make your skin crispy and easy to bite through. Once all the thighs are trimmed I take a teaspoon of jerk paste per thigh and rub all over the thigh and under the skin. The more you rub the paste into the meat the better the results. During this process it is advisable to wear protective gloves. After I have rubbed each thigh with the paste i place them in a ziploc bag. I then take the jerk sauce and crushed red pepper flakes and pour over the thighs. I like to make sure that all of the thighs are covered and get any air out of the bag. I place the thighs in the refrigerator and let them marinade over night.
About an hour before grilling time I take the thighs out and allow them to come to room temperature so that they will cook evenly on the grill. This is when I sprinkle both sides of each thigh with the dry jerk seasoning. I prepare a 3 zone fire for indirect grilling and look for a temperature of 300 degrees. I soak a handful of pecan chips in water to add some smoke and another layer of flavor.
Place the thighs in the center of the grill for cooking with indirect heat. I split the handful of wood chips and add to each side of the fire. I let then cook skin side up for about 1 hour and then flip them. I use an instant read thermometer and when the internal temperature with out hitting the bone reaches 170 degrees, approximately 1 hour and 45 mins into the cooking, I like to flip them back so the skin side is up and baste with a some of the jerk sauce. This creates a nice glaze on the thighs. I put them back on for another 15 mins or when the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees. Remove the thighs from the grill and let rest for 10 mins. before serving. I like to have some curried rice or a store bought Caribbean rice and a cold Red Stripe beer. It is a very enjoyable meal and it always takes me back to that trip to the Keys. Enjoy!