Faintly sweet, spiced, and fiery as all get-out, jerk chicken is a sultry summertime treat. To maximize its flavor, take time to marinate the meat—for at least a day and up to two.
Although I rarely seed and devein peppers, in the case of ultra-hot habeneros, it's wise. It allows their fruitiness to shine, and the dish strikes a balance between tongue-singeing and enjoyably edible. Of course, if brow-mopping is what you're going for, feel free to add another pepper into the mix.
As for the boozy, grill-charred pineapple that's served alongside, be sure to select one that's just about—but not totally—ripe. A firmer fruit will stand up to the grilling process, whereas a juicy, super-soft one won't.
When all is said and done, the basted, crusty bird and caramelized fruit are pitch-perfect companions. Served with additional jerk sauce alongside, a taste of the Caribbean is at hand.
Note: Be aware that the chicken is prone to flare-ups, so it needs to be watched and fussed with a bit during the cooking and basting process.
- For the Chicken:
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 cup plus three tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/4 cup juice from about 4 limes
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup peanut oil or vegetable
- 3 scallions, coarsely chopped
- 8 medium cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons minced ginger
- 2 habanero or Scotch Bonnet peppers, seeded and deveined
- 1 whole skin-on chicken, cut into eight pieces (about 4 pounds)
- 5 tablespoons rum, divided
- For the Pineapple:
- 1 pineapple, peeled, halved, cored and sliced lengthwise into 12 spears
Add allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, salt, thyme, 1⁄4 cup brown sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, vinegar and oil to a blender. Blend well. Add green onions, garlic, ginger and habanero peppers and purée until smooth. Divide jerk sauce in half. Reserve half in refrigerator.
Place chicken, two tablespoons rum and remaining half of jerk sauce in a resealable plastic bag. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight or up to two days.
At least four hours prior to cooking, place pineapple, remaining three tablespoons rum, and remaining three tablespoons brown sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Shake to combine and dissolve sugar. Place in refrigerator to marinate.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, spread coals evenly over the surface of the coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grill grate. Place chicken on the grill, skin side down. Cook until skin is crisp and charred, about 4 minutes. Flip chicken and continue to cook, turning and basting occasionally with marinade until a glistening crust forms on the outside of chicken and an instant read thermometer registers 155°F when inserted into the thickest part of the breast (about 20 to 30 minutes). As chicken nears the end of cooking, remove pineapple from the refrigerator and cook, brushing with glaze, until browned and lightly charred on all sides (about 6 minutes).
Remove chicken and pineapple from grill. Allow to rest for a 10 minutes. Serve with remaining jerk sauce.