The best jerk recipe we’ve ever had, first published in 1995, is fragrant, fiery spicy, and smoky all at once. It’s from our former colleague Paul Chung, an adventurous self-taught cook who grew up in Jamaica and has tasted jerk from almost every corner of the island. For maximum flavor, marinate the chicken overnight. In 2018, Food & Wine named this recipe one of our Top 40 – There are as many versions of jerk chicken in Jamaica as there are cooks on the island, but most share the same method: Chicken is topped with a seasoning mix dominated by spices and chili peppers, then grilled. This version comes from Paul Chung, a self-taught cook of Chinese-Jamaican descent who worked in the mailroom at Food & Wine. It’s wonderfully spicy, smoky, and fragrant – everything you want jerk chicken to be. But what sets this one above all others? The key is to include five Chinese spices in the marinade: “This cinnamon sprinkle enhances the rich clove flavor imparted by allspice berries,” wrote Marcia Kiesel. For best results, marinate the chicken overnight so the seasoning has time to fully penetrate the meat. The chicken can also be roasted in the oven if you wish. Plus: More Chicken Recipes and Tips
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
3 medium chives, chopped
2 Scotch Bonnet peppers, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon five-spice powder
1 tablespoon allspice berries, coarsely ground
1 tablespoon of coarsely ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Two 3 1/2 to 4 pound chickens, quartered
In a food processor, combine onion, scallions, chili peppers, garlic, 5-spice powder, allspice, cayenne, thyme, nutmeg, and salt; Process until you get a thick paste. With the machine on, add the soy sauce and oil in a steady stream. Pour the marinade into a large, shallow dish, add the chicken, and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring the chicken to room temperature before continuing.
Light a grill. Grill the chicken over medium heat, turning occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through, 35 to 40 minutes. (Cover grill for smokier flavor.) Transfer the chicken to a platter and serve.