Years ago, I tried my hand at Jamaica's most popular dish, the Jamaican jerk chicken. The chicken was moist and flavorful, but I wasn't too crazy about the combination of spices. I assumed it was just my personal preference especially when my opinions didn't change after trying another variation. One night while indulging in yet another "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" marathon, I watched the chef of Tortuga's Lie prepare his version of Jamaican jerk chicken. He used both a dry and wet rub to make the most flavorful chicken and served it with pineapple chutney. Watching Guy Fieri devour the chicken made my mouth salivate and I knew I had to give this dish a try. With careful observation, I created a copycat version of this dish and now I can say, I am a fan!
Tortuga Lie's Jamaican Jerk Chicken
- 6 chicken thighs skin-on, bone-less
- 2 bunches green onions
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 habanero
- ¼ cup roasted red pepper
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 shallot
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoon butter
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 ½ cups basmati rice
- 2 ½ cups chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 fresno minced
- 1 shallot minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 pineapple, chopped (about 4 cups)
- ⅓ cup sherry wine
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro for garnish
- Process green onions in a food processor or cut by hand until finely chopped. Season the green onions with 1 teaspoon salt and place in a colander. Cover and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.
- Remove the green onions from the fridge and squeeze out as much of the water as you can.
- Heat 1 teaspoon oil in saute pan over medium heat. Add the habanero and brown on all sides. Remove from heat and combine it with the green onions, roasted red pepper, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, ketchup, shallot, salt, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg a food processor or blender. Process until smooth.
- Combine all of the ingredients for the dry rub from garlic powder - black pepper in a small bowl.
- Loosen the skin on the chicken thighs and spread the wet rub directly on the chicken, underneath the skin. Place a pat of butter, about ½ tablespoon, on top of the wet rub for each thigh. Cover the marinade with the chicken skin and sprinkle a generous amount of the dry rub on both sides of the chicken thigh.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs, skin side down. Sear until browned, then, flip over the chicken and reduce the heat low. Cook until chicken is no longer pink, about 8-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the rice. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in medium saucepot over medium heat. Add the turmeric and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and stir to coat. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes. Remove cover and fluff the rice with a fork. Keep warm.
- Prepare the pineapple chutney. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in medium saucepot over medium heat. Add the chopped Fresno, shallot, garlic, and ginger. Saute for 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Add turmeric, brown sugar, and pineapple, stirring to coat. Add the sherry and cook until pineapple has softened and the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Serve chicken with pineapple chutney and turmeric rice. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
At first glance, this recipe can seem daunting. The list of ingredients is lengthy because there are two marinades for the chicken. Yes, it can be tedious but we're doing everything we can to maximize flavor!
Before you begin, make sure to prepare the green onions the day before. We want to drain the water from the green onions before turning them into a wet marinade. To do that, we have to finely chop the green onions, sprinkle them with salt, and let them sit overnight.
Squeeze the green onions and drain the excess water. It's shocking to see how much water there is in green onions. I know I was surprised!
Next, brown the habanero in a saute pan until it's seared on all sides. Blend it up with the remaining ingredients for the wet ingredients until it becomes a paste.
The habanero adds quite a bit of heat to the Jamaican jerk chicken so if you want, you can eliminate it completely.
Stuff the chicken with the wet rub and season the outside with the dry marinade. Be generous with the spices since we want all of those delicious flavors. Cook the chicken in the saute pan over medium heat until the juices run clear.
If you happen to use bone-in chicken, you may want to finish cooking the chicken in the oven. Brown the chicken in the pan until golden brown on both sides, then roast them in the oven at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the juices run clear.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the other components including turmeric rice and pineapple chutney. You can also cook the rice before the chicken and keep it warm on the side.
For the pineapple chutney, I suggest using fresh pineapple for the best results. Simmer the pineapple with the aromatics, turmeric, and brown sugar until it's softened and all of the liquid has evaporated. Feel free to make the chutney several days in advance.
Plate the chicken with turmeric rice and a generous amount of pineapple chutney. Garnish with chopped cilantro and dig in!
I have to say, if all Jamaican jerk chicken tasted like this, I would have been a fan from the start. The wet rub melts underneath the skin and becomes almost a sauce for the juicy chicken. The chutney is spicy and sweet and compliments the chicken perfectly. Just darn delicious all around!
For more chicken inspiration check out this golden roasted chicken with miso curry!