Jamaican Jerk-Spiced Chicken

Ingredients (10)

  • 3 tablespoons allspice berries
  • 3 crumbled bay leaves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup malt or cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 or more Scotch bonnet or jalapeño chile peppers
  • 1 bunch thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 (5-pound) chicken, bone-in, cut into serving pieces
  • Vegetable oil
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Jamaican Jerk-Spiced Chicken

Allspice is used extensively in Caribbean cuisine, especially in Jamaica. Fiery jerk seasoning pastes featuring allspice are used to marinate pork, goat, or chicken before barbecuing, preferably over an allspice-wood fire. Meat may also be stuffed or wrapped with allspice leaves, similar to the use of myrtle in the Mediterranean. Jamaican pimento dram is a liqueur made by steeping allspice berries in rum. Fresh allspice leaves, called West Indian bay leaf, are sometimes used for cooking or smoking meat.

For dessert, we recommend a Jamaican Black Cake recipe.

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Tips for Chicken


  1. 1Toast allspice berries, bay leaves, cinnamon, and black peppercorns in a dry pan until aromatic. Cool, then grind.
  2. 2Whisk together malt or cider vinegar, water, chiles (seeded and thinly sliced), and scallions. Stir in the spices.
  3. 3Mix the marinade with chicken and marinate overnight, covered, in the refrigerator.
  4. 4Light a charcoal grill. Drain the chicken, pat dry, and brush lightly with oil. Grill indirectly with the grill covered for about 20 minutes per side. Alternatively, roast the chicken at 425°F for 30 to 40 minutes.

Beverage pairing: Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse, New York. Spicy and savory, the chicken wants something soothing, thirst quenching, and easy drinking … like beer. A weiss beer, made with wheat, is a good choice. This one, a collaboration between Brooklyn Brewery and Germany’s Schneider, has refreshing fruitiness with a nice tinge of exotic spice and ginger.

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