We were ready to do something different this weekend, something that we have yet to try. Of course, we also wanted to use the grill or smoker (do be outdoors and enjoy the last days of summer), so chicken quarters were an obvious choice for us! I love the flavors of the Caribbean, so we decided to bring the taste of Jamaica to our own backyard. I can still remember (and still crave!) those amazing flavors from a trip with my mother years ago. It was the first time I tried Jamaican Jerk Chicken, down at Montego Bay, during one of our stops on a cruise we took years ago along the Caribbean Coasts. This is the best recipe I have found that brings me back to those tropical memories! I’ve added a few of my own twists to it, but this is as close as I have ever been to it again! (Maybe one day soon Jeff and I will get to experience it first hand!) Until then…
The first step to any great tasting chicken is to BRINE THAT BIRD!! No matters the flavors you are going to add before grilling, baking, pan frying or deep frying, BRINING the chicken for 8-24hrs (ideal is 24 hrs) is the BEST way to keep that chicken moist and flavorful. I use pretty much the same brine (see recipe below), regardless of the flavors we are doing later. Be sure to take the chicken out of the brine, rinse, pat dry and let sit at room temperature for about an hour before cooking. Then go ahead with your seasoning, being sure to use your hands to really massage and rub the flavors in well, then grill it up!
The Jamaican Rice and Beans (called “peas” in Jamaica) are a great side dish to add plenty of low-fat, high nutrition along with helping to balance out the heat from the spicy chicken. The fried plantains add a nice, sweet, crunchy yet custardy texture to the complete whole meal. Be sure to choose plantains that are almost all black and give a little to slight pressure. These are the ripest and less starchy, so they fry up well. They don’t need any other seasoning other than a pinch of salt when coming out of the fryer.
Hope you enjoy!
Jamaican Jerk Grilled Chicken, Jamaican Rice & Beans, Fried PlantainsPrint Recipe
- For the Brine (for 4 leg quarters):
- 8 cups water
- 1/2 cup kosher salt or course salt
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 Tbsp whole peppercorns
- 1 tsp whole mustard seed
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- Small handful of fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
- 2 lemons, sliced
- For the Jerk Seasoning:
- 1 Tbsp garlic powder
- 3 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp dried thyme leaves
- 2 tsp dried parsley
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (or 1/8 tsp freshly grated)
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- For Jamaican Rice:
- 1 can (13.5 or 14 oz) coconut milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 sweet (Vidalia) onion, diced
- 1 Serrano pepper, halved, seeded and sliced
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 can (15 oz) dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- For the fried plantains:
- 3 very ripe plantains, peeled and cut on the diagonal
- 1 1/2-2 cups vegetable oil
- Pinch of kosher salt
For the brine, combine all ingredients except salt and fresh herbs and bring to a boil over med-high heat. Add salt and stir until dissolved. Take off heat, add herbs and allow to cool completely. Add leg quarters to the brine, keep in fridge for at least 8 hrs and up to 24 hrs, for best results. About an hour before cook time, remove from brine, rinse, pat dry and allow to come up to room temp.
To make the rice: In a large pot add everything but the rice and beans, heat over medium heat to bring to a boil. Add the rice and stir, reduce heat to simmer then cover and cook for 20 minutes, until the rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. (I stir mine twice during that cooking time to ensure rice doesn’t stick to bottom of pan, and watch the liquid, may need to have a few tablespoons of warm water if getting too dry before rice is cooked through). When rice is finished, turn off the heat and add the beans. Stir and cover another 10 minutes to heat the beans through. Fluff with fork and sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.
In the meantime, combine all the Jerk Seasoning into small bowl, stir well and set aside. Heat grill to medium-high heat. Add seasoning to all sides of the chicken then pat and massage into the chicken and let set for 10 minutes. Place chicken on hot grill, skin side down, until outside is carmelized and crust has formed, about 7 minutes. Turn chicken over, reduce to medium or move to indirect heat and cook another 15-20 minutes, until internal temperature reaches about 170 degrees (temp will rise about 10 more degrees while resting; 180 degrees is the target temp). Set chicken aside and cover with foil loosely, allowing to rest for 10 minutes.
For the plantains, add oil to shallow dish and heat on medium-high until oil is very hot (should see ripples, but can take a slice of plantain and hold end into oil, if oil is bubbly around it then it is ready, if not, allow to heat longer). Add plantain slices to hot oil in batches (be sure not to crowd the pan), turning every 5-7 minutes, until deep golden brown. Remove to cooling wrack (on top of baking sheet to catch the oil), adding pinch of salt while still hot. Allow to cool slightly before serving.