Jerk Chicken

August 10, 2010

On my trip to Jamaica last year, I had Jerk Chicken the way is was meant to be. Hot, hot, hot. But the main difference between what I ate in Jamaica versus the jerk served in restaurants in the US; the heat and flavor is not just in the sauce, but part of the chicken itself. Actually, even the restaurants in Kingston rely on the sauce. The place to get the best Jerk chicken, it’s birthplace, Boston Bay.

Not authentic, but excellent flavor

Chris Kimball does have a jerk chicken dipping sauce recipe; see it here. But I disagreed with it for the following reasons. (1) Because the chicken must marinade also. All the flavor cannot be in the sauce alone.  (2) Brown sugar has no place in Jerk sauce. It should not be sweet, only hot.  (3) One habanero chile is not nearly hot enough. (4) A pinch of allspice! Come on, you have to pump up the Jamaican flavors. Also, be sure to slow-roast the chicken.

Jerk Chicken Recipe:

6 Chicken Breasts, bone-in.
1 bunch Scallions, chopped into 1” pieces
4 habanero peppers with seeds
2 teaspoons thyme
3 tablespoons grated ginger root
Juice from 2 limes
4 cloves garlic
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoons salt; plus salt for chicken.
1 teaspoon allspice (Jamaican)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil

  • Roughly chop all ingredients and grate ginger root.
  • Mix all ingredients together food processor (except vinegar, olive oil and one lime), and puree into a paste.
  • Reserve 1/2 cup of marinade to make the sauce; add vinegar, olive oil and remaining lime. Mix.
  • Cut chicken breasts in half to make even size pieces.
  • Salt chicken on both sides, then smear the Jerk Rub onto the chicken.
  • Marinate in the refrigerator overnight, but best for 24 hours.
  • Prepare a 4/5th full chimney started of coal 2 hours before dinner. Create two-zone fire.
  • Cook for 1 hour over cool zone, then an additional 15 minutes over hot zone.
  • Start coals 2 hours before dinner.


  1. Still a work-in-progress. The flavors are delicious, but not authentic enough even for Kingston, much less Boston Bay.
  2. I am gradually increasing the heat. This time I used 4 habaneros without seeds and it was too mild. Next time I’ll include the seeds. I don’t yet have the final answer.
  3. I didn’t let chicken marinade for long enough. I recommend a full 24 hours.

Rating: 4 stars (3-stars as Jerk Chicken).
Cost: $9.00
How much work? Small.
How big of a mess?  Small/Medium.
Start Charcoal at: 4:00 PM. Dinnertime: 6:00 PM.

Enjoying the warm tide pools of Boston Bay

Most tourists skip this isolated region and head for the western resorts.

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