Jerk Chicken

Recipe from Food & Fire, slightly modified

“Artistic” photographic rendering of Jerk Chicken.
Or, in other words, the photo was dark and blurry…

Last week, our Whole Foods had a sale on locally raised, pastured, whole chickens.  I got four of them since the price was so good!  However, my ability to cut up a raw chicken (or rather, lack thereof) is an insult to the bird and a danger to myself and anyone nearby.  I did a decent job removing the thigh and leg quarters, but the breast and wings ended up in pieces of unidentifiable origin.  Zooarchaeologists would be stymied trying to figure out what happened to this poor chicken.  I would have done myself a favor by watching this video of how to cut up a chicken beforehand…it looks so easy when someone else does it!

Although this wasn’t the most attractive chicken, it tasted the same as a professionally cut up chicken.  This Jerk Chicken recipe comes from Dave at Food & Fire, and it is something we have enjoyed on many occasions.  Yes indeed it is spicy, but there is a nice blend of flavors behind the heat – and of course you can adjust the spiciness to a level that you are comfortable with.  Dave’s recipe calls for 4-6 habanero peppers – this time I wimped out and used 3, and it was plentifully hot.  In the past I have used dried peppers, but I had fresh peppers for this batch.  Following his directions to use gloves to cut up the peppers would have been a good idea, because even after washing my hands numerous times, my skin felt irritated.  Whatever you do, keep your hands away from your face!

Another good idea is to serve this chicken with something on the acidic side.  Acids (such as those found in citrus juices or other tropical fruits) are extremely effective at taking away the burning sensation from hot peppers.  Margaritas, of course, are a great option, but I would also suggest something like this Citrus and Avocado Salad, or grilled pineapple, or a mango salsa.  Having some lime slices to bite into also helps.


  • 8 chicken thighs, or 1 chicken, cut into pieces
  • 4 to 6 Habanero or Scotch Bonnet peppers (or whatever you can withstand)
  • 1 to 2 jalapeno peppers (because they were in the refrigerator)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 6 green onions, white and pale green parts, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tamari sauce or coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Wearing gloves, seed and de-vein the peppers.  (Ignore the gloves at your own risk…)  In a small food processor or blender, add salt and garlic.  Pulse until the garlic is minced.  Add the remaining ingredients (except the chicken) and process until well-combined.

Place the chicken in a resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade.  Squeeze the air out of the bag and seal.  Massage the marinade all over the chicken, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before grilling.  The longer the better (up to 24 hours).

Set up the grill to cook at 375-400F.  (If using a Big Green Egg – we used a spacer ring to raise the grill surface level with the grill opening.)  Grill the chicken, turning every 6-8 minutes, until the internal temperature of the thighs have reached 180F (usually 30-40 minutes).  When chicken is done, remove it to a warm plate and let it rest around 10 minutes.


No other music for Jerk Chicken than reggae, of course! If all you know of it is Bob Marley, then you have some great listening ahead. To get you started, a former member of Bob Marley Wailers, Bunny Wailer with Blackheart Man. Legend has it he disappeared into the jungle and emerged a year later with this album…who’s to say, but its one of the most moving and reactionary statements of personal freedom and morality you can find. Essential.

Now, the crazy man, the mad scientist of dub, the legendary producer Lee “Scratch” Perry with Roast Fish Collie Weed & Corn Bread. Created in his Black Ark studio- before he burned it down- this is primal reggae, created by one whacked out weed head and his patched together equipment. He’s still going strong, but living the high life in Sweden these days, but this album…whew. I and I like.


5 thoughts on “Jerk Chicken

  1. Awwww, glad you like the recipe and thanks for the reminder that I need to make up a batch of this again soon.

    I’ve gotten more than a few of those bad food pics myself. It’s hard when it’s still dark so early in the evening. It’ll get better this summer.

    1. It’s a great recipe, Dave! Thanks again!

      We got started a little late on the grilling, and were too hungry to be patient and try to take a better photo (ipad photos of food are a real challenge). I should have taken one outside while the chicken was on the grill and it was still light outside! Next time I’ll fix it!

  2. Looks like a delightfully good excuse to burn my tongue with delicious spiciness and make margaritas!

Comments are closed.