Poulet's Jerk Chicken Thighs

France Ruffenach

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Poulet to give away this week.

The secret to really great jerk chicken is in the rub, and these Jerk Chicken Thighs from Poulet have cracked the code with a seemingly incongruous blend of Scotch bonnets, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, celery seed, cumin, nutmeg, sugar, and salt. Blended together into a paste and rubbed onto skin-on chicken thighs, this spice rub has the power to seep deep into the chicken.

The recipe calls for grilling, but a blazing hot cast iron will do the trick here—just be prepared for a little bit of smoke in the kitchen. You're looking for the jerk rub and the chicken skin to get nice and dark, and even blacken in spots making for crispy, spicy skin and juicy dark meat.

Why you should make this: While this chicken might not be the cooked over an oil drum grill in Jamaica, it's a pretty great for not being on vacation.

Next time we might think about: Thyme is a common ingredient in many jerk recipes and we'd like to see how it fits in here. And if you can handle the heat feel free to up the habanero factor.

Adapted from Poulet by Cree LaFavour. Copyright © 2011. Published by Chronicle Books. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

Recipe Facts

Active: 45 mins
Total: 105 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1/2 head garlic, cloves peeled and minced
  • 1 or 2 Scotch bonnet chiles, minced
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar
  • 8 to 10 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs


  1. In a small bowl, combine the peanut oil, garlic, chile(s), celery seeds, cumin, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, salt, and sugar and stir to make a smooth paste. Spread 2 to 3 teaspoons of the paste on the skin of the chicken thighs. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.

  2. Build a medium fire in a charcoal or wood grill or heat a gas grill to medium. Use a clean, well-cured grate. If you are using charcoal or wood, you want hot embers, not flames.

  3. Arrange the thighs, skin-side down, on the grill and let them cook for 5 minutes or so before you move them. After that, I like to flip them every 5 minutes or so to keep them from sticking and to keep from burning the skin. Plan on standing, turning, flipping and generally worrying the chicken for 30 to 40 minutes.

  4. If your chicken is burning or the fat is igniting flames, turn the heat down or move the chicken to a cooler spot on the grill. (You can also douse the flames with a squirt bottle if there’s no room to move the chicken out of the way.) Work slowly and the result will be a deep-mahogany-colored exterior concealing a well-cooked but juicy interior. That smoky flavor and crispy skin are worth the wait.

  5. When the chicken is done, you will see that is has shrunk considerably. The meat should be firm but with a little give when you poke it with your finger. Look for a reading of 175°F on an instant-read thermometer. If you’re unsure, cut into a piece and take a peek. Look for clear, not red or pink, juices running from the spot where you pierced the meat and opaque, barley pink flesh at the bone.

  6. Platter the chicken and serve.

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