Jerk Chicken

15. August 2005 Chicken 0

I can now truly respect mothers who work full-time and still manage to cook a decent meal for her family at the end of the day. After work yesterday, I ran to Di Palo’s to get my usual cheeses and meats. I was uptown soon after picking last-minute grocery items. I had two hours to cook dinner for Tita Pat and Tito Square who are both in town from Manila. I have never felt so taranta in the kitchen. After a few fuck-ups, I paused and told myself to calm the hell down or nothing will ever come out right. So I poured myself a shot of Glenlivet 12 on the rocks to take the edge off. Then, I was ready. I multi-tasked in the kitchen for the next hour and a half. The bell rang as soon as I started heating up the Le Creuset for the jerk chicken. The dozen or so pieces took a while because I had to brown them before baking them, to get the marinade all sticky and, well, I guess, jerky. But the guest couple of the night brought their nieces and nephews with them, so all seven of us were chit-chatting while the chicken was cooking. I served these with yellow rice spiced with thyme and garlic. It was a lot of work, but expect high spirits while you watch your guests devour everything. Use disposable gloves when chopping the Scotch bonnet chiles and rubbing the chicken pieces because you don’t want to accidentally touch your face while you’re cooking. Trust me on that.

12 pieces chicken, drumsticks and wings
3 fresh Scotch bonnet chiles, seeded and finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
8 scallions, coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
3 tbsps fresh thyme, finely chopped
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tbsps ground allspice
1 1/4 tsps ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
salt, pepper

1. Make jerk marinade. Process chiles, scallions, garlic and thyme in food processor until pastey. Add brown sugar, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice, oil. Season with salt and pepper. Process until smooth.
2. Transfer 1/3 of the marinade in an airtight container and set aside for brushing chicken when ready.
3. Transfer the remaining marinade in a large bowl. Add chicken, coating and rubbing marinade all over chicken pieces and under skin. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Allow chicken to come to room temperature before cooking.
4. When ready, preheat oven to 350º. Heat a large skillet and add oil. When oil is hot, add chicken pieces to brown both sides, about 30 minutes. Do this a few pieces at a time to avoid overcrowding and use fresh oil for every batch. Discard used marinade.
5. Transfer browned chicken to a baking dish. Brush generously with remaining unused marinade and bake until cook through, about 15 minutes.

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