Let’s eat: Jerk Chicken

Scotch bonnet peppers are the chilies of choice in Caribbean cooking, lending a fiery bite to sauces and marinades. Pureed with sugar, scallions and warm spices, the yellow-red pepper pods are an essential ingredient in jerk chicken, one of the best-known Jamaican dishes to have been exported from the island.

This dish comes from Weber’s terrific “New American Barbecue” by Jamie Purviance, who suggests cooking the chicken “low and slow” over handfuls of apple or pimento wood chips to achieve a smoky tenderness. (I used a gas grill and no wood.) I served it with cilantro-lime rice and roasted bell peppers.

Scotch bonnets are among the hottest chilies on the market, so handle them with care — Wear gloves to avoid burning your skin or be sure to scrub your hands, knife and cutting board really well after they’ve touched the peppers. If you can’t find Scotch bonnets, substitute habanero peppers.

Jerk Chicken

For marinade

1 Scotch bonnet or habanero chili pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped

6 large scallions (white and light green parts only), coarsely chopped

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 Tbsp. tamari

2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

2 Tbsp. ground allspice

2 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar

1 Tbsp. peeled, minced fresh ginger

1 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

For chicken

1 whole chicken, cut into 6 pieces

1 lime, cut into wedges

In blender, combine marinade ingredients. Puree marinade, stopping to scrape down the inside of jar as needed and add a little water if it is too thick.

Place cut-up chicken in a 13-by-9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Pour marinade over chicken and use tongs to turn and coat the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 18 hours, turning the chicken occasionally.

Prepare grill for direct and indirect cooking over medium-low heat (350 to 400 degrees).

Remove chicken from dish, letting any excess marinade drip back into the dish. Transfer marinade and juices in the dish to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate.

Grill chicken, skin side up, over indirect medium-low heat, with the lid closed, for 45 minutes. Turn chicken over and baste with some of the reserved marinade. Continue grilling until juices run clear and meat is no longer pink at the bone, 30 to 50 minutes longer, occasionally basting with the reserved marinade until the last 20 minutes of grilling. Discard any remaining marinade.

If desired, to crisp and brown the skin, during the last 2 to 4 minutes grill the chicken, skin side down, over direct medium-low heat, turning once. Remove from grill and let rest for 3 to 5 minutes.

Cut leg pieces in half at the joint, and cut the breast pieces crosswise in half. Serve warm with a squeeze of lime on top.

— “Weber’s New American Barbecue: A Modern Spin on the Classics” by Jamie Purviance (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May 2016, $24.99)

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