Happy New Year to you all. I hope your holiday break was a good one! Fresh back from our annual trip to Negril Jamaica, I am still reminiscing about the bold and intense flavors of their Jerk style of cooking. As a result, I wanted to recreate the flavors of Jamaica while the taste was still in my head. After a bit of research I cooked this recipe for Jerk Chicken as my first post in 2016. This recipe was modified for the Big Green Egg from one of my favorite food sites Tasting Table. Now sit back, grab an ice cold Red Stripe, and enjoy this recipe for Big Green Egg Jerk Chicken.
Big Green Egg Jerk Chicken
First…a little background on Jerk seasoning and the grilling method. This style of outdoor cooking came about in Jamaica after a group of escaped British slaves (the Maroons) found themselves living in the Blue Mountains. Trying to keep the meat (wild boar) safe, they used spices to help preserve the meat longer. To avoid detection they would bury the meat underground with charcoal and slowly cook the meat thus preventing the smoke from escaping and disclosing their location. There are several variations on the Jerk Marinade (both wet and dry) but everyone agrees there are 5 primary ingredients that need to be included for this to be a true Jerk experience: Allspice berries, Thyme, Scotch bonnet peppers, Green onions, and fresh Ginger. As long as you have these 5 ingredients you are off to a good start. For this recipe I chose to use Chicken legs.
Once the Allspice berries and Black peppercorns were ground I mixed them together with the remaining ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
I placed the Chicken legs in a bowl and covered them with the wet Jerk marinade. I placed the legs, uncovered, on a wire rack and in the refrigerator for 48 hours.
As I prepped the Big Green Egg for the cook, I soaked Allspice berries and Bay leaves in water. Traditional Jerk is made using Pimento wood but that is hard to get in the United States. Allspice berries come from the same tree and can be used to create smoke similar to that of Pimento wood. In addition, I added some Bay leaves to the lighted coals with the Allspice berries to get that Jerk smoke flavor during my cook. For this cook I used half the Allspice berries and Bay leaves for the indirect portion.
I used a Conveggerator for indirect cooking and placed a drip pan full of water underneath the chicken. I cooked the Chicken for an hour at 250° until they measured 155°.
I removed the Conveggerator and and added the remaining Allspice berries and bay leaves to the coals. Then turned the chicken skin side down and cooked for another 5 minutes over the direct heat.
I must say this turned out much better than I had expected. Having just been in Jamaica I can judge the flavor of this Jerk chicken against the real thing… and it was spot on! I served the chicken with traditional Jamaican “Rice & Peas” and a Red Stripe beer. Ya Mon… respect!
Big Green Egg Jerk Chicken
- 1 tablespoon allspice berries
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 4 to 6 whole Scotch bonnet peppers stems removed
- 6 scallions roughly chopped
- 1 large shallot peeled
- One 2 inch piece ginger peeled and roughly chopped
- 6 smashed large garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons finely grated lime zest
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 whole chicken legs patted dry
- Using a mortar and pestle, grind the allspice and black peppercorns.
- Transfer the spices along with the Scotch bonnet peppers, scallions, shallot, ginger, garlic, brown sugar, thyme leaves, lime zest and juice, canola oil, nutmeg and salt to a food processor. Blend or process until smooth.
- Set a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet and put on kitchen gloves. Place the chicken into a large bowl and cover the marinade all over the chicken using your hands, then transfer the chicken to the wire rack. Refrigerate the chicken, uncovered, for 24 hours or more.
- When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the refrigerator, wiping off any excess marinade. Transfer to a plate and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before cooking.
- Meanwhile, prepare the Big Green Egg for indirect grilling using a Conveggerator (plate setter).
- Preheat the BGE to 250° measured at the dome.
- When your BGE is at temp add half of the soaked allspice berries and half of the bay leaves to the charcoal and allow to smolder. Then place the Conveggerator.
- Add a pan of water on top of the Conveggerator and under the rack.
- Place the chicken on the rack above the water pan and let cook for 1 hour or until the chicken measures 155°.
- Pull the chicken off and let rest while you remove the Conveggerator and set the BGE for direct grilling. Add the remaining Allspice berries and Bay leaves.
- Put the chicken skin side down and grill for 5 minutes until it measures 165°.
- Pull the chicken and let rest 10 minutes before serving.
- Serve with Jamaican Rice & Peas and Limes wedges.