The Jerkiest of Jerk Chicken

By 300 Sandwiches

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When E and I were in the Dominican Republic last month, we did our fair share of island-inspired cooking. We whipped up shrimp curry a few times, paella with spiny lobster (which you could find down there simply by swimming out a few yards from shore), and pasta with fresh local vegetables. Our favorite dish was a jerk chicken recipe  that we continue to make in our Brooklyn kitchen.

I like to call this dish the Jerkiest of Jerk Chicken because of how we came to love this meal. E and I went through a lot as new parents down in the DR. One thing we had to battle were bugs. When you’re in the tropics, bugs are everywhere. Small ones, big ones, hungry ones, poisonous ones. It’s why you probably shouldn’t have a newborn outside after dark.

But on the second night we were in the DR, E suggest we go to this restaurant with an open air thatched roof near the river. I had many reservations, but baby and I went anyway. At the end of dinner, I noticed that a long bug had crawled onto the sweater I wrapped around my legs to keep away mosquitos. I flicked it off of me and squealed. So did the table next to me. And the restaurant manager. Turns out it was a centipede. I was furious. So much so that I told E I was leaving the next day and called Jet Blue to change my tickets. I decided to stay after some begging and a good night’s sleep.

This jerk chicken recipe,  which comes from Nakisha Brunson from the popular, oh so cool style blog Urban Bush Babes, is the bomb diggity. It’s hot or mild depending on what peppers and how many  you use. The allspice and nutmeg and brown sugar and onion make for a delicious rich sweet flavor. The first time we made it, we omitted the OJ because we forgot to buy some at the store, and we found the marinade sticks to the chicken better. But the traditional recipe version also works swimmingly.

After E found this recipe, he asked me if I was going to name a sandwich with this jerk chicken after him. “You know, because I was the biggest jerk of all in bringing you down here.”  No dear, you were just a jerk for bringing me to that open air bug infested restaurant at night. But I forgive you.

We’ve since cooked this recipe a bunch of times and used it for sandwiches, for rice bowls, and for salads. It’s super delicious and flavorful, and the chicken comes out juicy and well marinated. Leave the chicken sit overnight in the marinade for best results.

5 scallions
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons ground allspice
4-5 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2-4 scotch bonnet peppers (note, I used 4 and my chicken was spicy! Proceed with caution! Taste as you go.)
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup vinegar
1 onion
1/2 cup orange juice
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 lime, squeezed

Combine all into a blender, and pulse until smooth. Coat chicken with marinade. Let sit for at least two hours, or up to overnight.

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