Recipe courtesy of Kwame Onwuachi

Jerk Chicken

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 3 hr (plus 2 days brining and marinating)
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 8 servings
I grew up eating jerk chicken curbside in the Bronx. It’s as spicy and complex as the people who make it.


For the Brine:

For the Jerk Paste Marinade:

For the Jerk Barbecue Sauce:


  1. Make the brine: Combine 2 tablespoons salt, the granulated sugar, allspice, chile pepper, garlic, ginger and 1 quart water in a large pot and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the salt and sugar have dissolved, about 5 minutes.
  2. Pour the brine over about 1/2 cup ice in a large bowl and let cool to room temperature. Add the chicken to the brine, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  3. Make the jerk paste marinade: Stir together the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, tamarind paste, scallions, thyme, garlic, ginger, allspice, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf and chile pepper in a medium bowl; season with a pinch of salt. Set aside 5 tablespoons of the marinade to use for the barbecue sauce.
  4. Remove the chicken from the brine; discard the brine. Pat the chicken dry, then toss to coat with the remaining jerk paste marinade, slightly massaging it into the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  5. Make the jerk barbecue sauce: Heat the canola oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and the reserved 5 tablespoons jerk paste marinade; simmer until the onion is translucent, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the ketchup and brown sugar and simmer over low heat until the sauce is deep red and caramelized, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a blender. Blend until smooth.
  6. Cook the chicken: Preheat the oven to 325˚ F. Heat a well-seasoned cast-iron grill pan over medium heat until very hot, about 10 minutes, then add some oil to the pan. Working in batches, remove the chicken from the marinade (reserve the marinade), place the chicken on the grill pan skin-side down and cook until well charred, flipping halfway through, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with the reserved marinade. Repeat to cook the remaining chicken. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake until the chicken is tender but not falling off the bone, about 45 minutes. Turn the broiler on for the last minute and broil until the skin crisps.
  7. Remove the chicken from the oven, brush with some of the barbecue sauce and let rest 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with the remaining sauce on the side.