Jerk Grill in Chicago makes some of the best chicken I've ever had. It's spicy, sweet, and fall-off-bone juicy. When I was in grad school and going to classes on the weekends, my bus would pass by Jerk. If I was willing to hop off a few stops before mine, I would pick up some amazing jerk wings or a quarter chicken to bring home for a late lunch or dinner. As a person who loves to cook, I, of course, wanted to learn how to make it myself. After some research and some help from Kelis, I came up with this version here. I have done wet jerk marinades before and they've turned out great; the only issue is I always end up making too much and the excess sits in the fridge until it spoils because I forget to get around to it. The dry rub feels more small-batch friendly.
The most important spice in jerk seasoning and a lot of Caribbean cooking is allspice. Allspice isn't a blend of a lot or all spices - it's actually one type of spice berry. It has a spice and warmth very similar to cloves and is sold whole or ground. It's a common ingredient in many baked goods and you can find it in most grocery stores. The next time I make this, I will add onion powder and soy sauce (two traditional additions) - I didn't have either this time, so I've skipped them.
The cooking method is a great way to make really fork-tender and juicy chicken. The 45-min covered cooking helps retain the juices and the last uncovered 20 mins help concentrate the liquid, almost turning it into a glaze. It's a delicious drizzle over the chicken as you're plating. I served this chicken with some cilantro rice and a side of green beans and peas sauteed in olive oil. It was a hit!
- 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 4 skinned drumsticks
- 5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 6-8 sprigs thyme
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp brown sugar
- ground black pepper (be generous)
- salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 F
- Layout the chicken on a 9x13 baking dish
- Add the garlic, thyme, olive oil, allspice, garlic powder, paprika, brown sugar, black pepper, and salt to the chicken. Mix thoroughly with your hands.
- Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 45 mins.
- Remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil (it will release a lot of hot steam, watch your hands). Flip the chicken pieces over to the other side.
- Place back in the oven and cook for 20 mins.
- Plate and serve!