Friday, May 27, 2011

Oven Jerk Chicken

Despite our best intentions, Mother Nature can be one fickle gal. This recipe is for a weekend when you want BBQ food, but the weather is simply being uncooperative. I slow cook the chicken in the oven for 2 hours so that it steams to tender perfection and then I turn the oven way up high to give them crispy skins. Best of both worlds. Since I have a very low-tech charcoal grill, it is hard to create the indirect smoke heat that I'd need to cook these tenderly anyway. Another benefit is that you can make massive quantities of this recipe with relative ease. Two trays (double this recipe) of chicken would easily feed 10 people. Jamaican Jerk Chicken holds a special place for me because Mark and I spent a week vacation in Jamaica and we ate ourselves silly with all the great island food all week. We fell for the genuinely friendly people and beautiful sunset views. I was very happy to recreate all of those great tastes and memories for some great friends for a spontaneous weeknight dinner. Oven Jerk Chicken (feeds 5)
5 each chicken legs and thighs
1/4 cup jerk seasoning
1 beer
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
salt and pepper

This Jerk mix is one that we brought back from Jamaica, but you can buy it readily at the store. Every mix is different, which is also true in Jamaica. You could mix your own with the spices listed on the packet and make a mix that you love. If you buy a mix from the store, check to see if it already has salt (sodium) added. If it does, then you will be sparing to add additional salt.
1. Put the chicken pieces, and roughly chopped onion and garlic into a large freezer bag.
2. Add the jerk spices and 1 Tbs. salt and mix around thoroughly. Then add the beer. I used Presidente since I had it on hand. Any light pilsner-style beer will work well. You don't want to compete with the jerk flavors.
Allow to marinate in the fridge all day or overnight.
3. Dump the entire contents of the bag on a baking tray. Make sure that the chicken pieces get plenty of the jerk spices on top.
4. Cover the tray tightly with foil and bake in a low 300 degree oven for 2 hours.
5. Take it out and remove the foil (it will smell amazing, but look unappetizing and soggy. Turn the oven way up to 425 and return the chicken to the oven.
6. Let it brown for 30 minutes (or until nice and crispy)
Serve up with a cold beer and lots of napkins.

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