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Author Notes: Ever since moving to London, Jerk Chicken, or indeed jerked ANYTHING has been my absolute favourite thing to eat and cook. Not least because it's dead easy to do — no tricky skills found here — yet makes you look like a total professional, but because every time you do it you can change it up and be inventive with it, again with almost no special skills required — just mix up the spices, flavours and what you serve with it. Super simple!
I've lived around Dalston in East London for all the years I've been in the city and as anybody living in London will know, there is no place better for Jerk except maybe Notting Hill Carnival, but that only comes once a year so not nearly enough to satisfy my Jerk cravings. So Dalston is where I go and it's where I've truly developed my love for great Jamaican Jerk by way of frequenting the plethora of jerk hangouts. Rudie's is a particular fave — If you're in London, go — nothing more needs to be said.
Just a note before we dive in to say that this may look like a long and scary ingredient list, but it really is as simple as mix it all together and let it do it's thing. In fact — leaving the chicken to marinade over night means to can prep the night before and when it comes to fixing dinner it's just as case of banging it all in the oven. What could be easier?? :)
Note: Hat tip to sdebrango — the marinade I've used here was in part inspired by their Jerk Chicken kebab recipe from 2011: https://food52.com/recipes/13467-jerk-chicken-kebabs
Glad I had the chance to put my own spin on it and turn it into something new :) —Tom Dabner
Jerk Marinade & Chicken
- 1 tablespoon Thyme Leaves, picked
- 6 Garlic Cloves, chopped
- 2 Scotch Bonnet Peppers, chopped (1 if you like it less spicy)
- 2 teaspoons All Spice, crushed
- 3 tablespoons Soft Muscovado Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Sea Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg, fresh grated or ground
- 1 teaspoon Black Pepper, ground
- 1 teaspoon Thumbsize piece of ginger, grated
- 1/4 cup Cider Vinegar
- 3 Limes, juiced, plus zest of one
- 1/4 cup Olive Oil
- 1/4 cup Tamari
- 1/2 Orange, juiced and zested
- 6 Chicken Legs, Chicken Legs, Drumsticks attached to Thighs
- Prep all of your marinade ingredients so that they're ready to mix in one go. Roughly chop the peppers (removing seeds/pith if you wish, but I like to keep it all in) and garlic, crush the all spice berries in a pestle and mortar, juice and zest your fruits and grate your ginger. I like to mix all the dry ingredients together in one bowl and all the wet ones in another while prepping to keep it all nice and neat.
- Next it's as simple as throwing both bowls, wet and dry, into a food processor and blitzing for 15-20 seconds so everything is well mixed and pulverised. The smell from the mixer is, oh my goodness, wonderful! Set aside.
- Pierce the chicken legs a few times as this will help the marinade to really get into the meat. Rub a bit of extra salt and pepper into the skin and place the legs into a zip lock back if you have one, if not a bowl is fine. Pour over the marinade and shake (remember to close the bag first!) or mix well with your hands if using a bowl.
- Place the chicken mix in the fridge and leave over night. We want all those punchy flavours to really penetrate the meat as much as possible. If you do want to eat the same day a couple of hours will work, but the longer the better.
Dry Rub & Baking
- 2 tablespoons Sea Salt
- 1 tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
- 1 tablespoon Sugar
- 1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
- 1/2 tablespoon Black Pepper, ground
- 1/2 tablespoon Thyme Leaves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cloves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons All Spice Berries, ground
- 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 10 Cloves Garlic, whole in skins
- 2 Red Onions
- 1/2 tablespoon Olive Oil
- Remove chicken from the fridge 20 minutes before cooking, relaxing it will stop it drying out when cooking. Preheat oven to 170C/335F.
- This is where this recipe gets interesting. Introducing a dry rub to accompany the wet marinade is something that I've been a real fan of over the years, but is not necessarily the standard option. What it's really great at is guaranteeing the crispiest skin which for me is a must! Simply mix all the dry spices together, ensuring everything is well ground before doing so. I use a pestle and mortar as I like to use my hands, but a blender will do the trick with far less effort! Set the rub to one side.
- Cut each onion in half through the root and peel off their outer layers. Then cut each half into 3/4 wedges. Keep the root ON for this, it'll stop the wedges from falling apart. Gently give your garlic cloves a single whack with the flat part of your knife, leaving the skins on. Toss onions and garlic in the olive oil until well coated.
- Carefully remove chicken from the marinade, letting excess drip off before arranging skin side up on an oven proof dish or parchment lined baking tray. Scatter the onions and garlic over and around the chicken, nudging the garlic under the legs to stop them burning.
- Remember that dry rub we made? This is where it comes in. Scatter about 1 tsp of the rub onto each leg making sure they are evenly coated. Bake for 25 minutes.
- After 25 minutes take out of the oven, they should be starting to colour nicely and the onions beginning to caramelise. Use a fork to flip the chicken to baste in their juices then flip back. You can sprinkle a further touch of dry seasoning at the point. Wedge any rogue garlic/onion back under the chicken and pop back in the over for a further 25-30 minutes.
- Check the chicken is cooked through by poking a sharp knife into it to make sure it's not pink in the middle. If so, cook for a further 5-10 until cooked through.
- Let rest for 8 minutes before serving. Serve with rice & peas and a sprinkling of sliced spring onion and sesame seeds. I also love a fresh mango salsa to offset the spicy chicken! Et Voila!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Hands-Off Recipe