Grilled Jerk Chicken Drumsticks, the Jamaican classic, are easy to make at home and you can control the heat levels. However, at least some heat is necessary because otherwise, it just wouldn’t be Jerk.
What is Jerk?
Jerk is a Jamaican barbecue, and sometimes called Jamaica’s national dish. The word “Jerk” is both a dish and a cooking method. It refers to meat, usually chicken, marinated in lime, spices and hot peppers, then cooked on a barbecue grill or fire pit. In Jamaica, jerk chicken, or pork, is everywhere from roadside stands to the finest restaurants from one end of the island to the other.
If you can’t take the heat……
Then you’re looking at the wrong recipe. The defining characteristic of Jamaican jerk is the smoky heat, largely due to the addition of Scotch bonnet chiles. The Scotch Bonnet is up there at the top of the Scoville scale, which is a measurement of heat in peppers. A Scotch bonnet chile measures between 100,000 and 350,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units). That’s pretty hot when you consider that the jalapeno measures between 1,000 and 10,000 SHU.
This Jerk Chicken Recipe is “Mild”
I used only one Scotch bonnet chile in this recipe, so while it definitely packs some heat, it’s still not overly hot. Some Jamaican recipes that I have seen contain many more peppers, and if you’re still reading, you aren’t spice adverse, so feel free to use more. Although this was delicious, the next time I make it, I’ll use two peppers. However, if you aren’t sure, I would advise sticking to just the one.
How to Cook Jerk Chicken
This is a grilled jerk chicken recipe, so obviously, it’s cooked over a grill. Although you can roast it in the oven, grilling is best for the most authentic flavour, and those lovely char marks. Any chicken pieces will work, but I like to use drumsticks because they stay moist and juicy when grilled. For more delicious grilled drumstick recipes, try Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks, or Smoky Tea Marinated Chicken Drumsticks
What to serve with Grilled Jerk Chicken Drumsticks
You can serve a simple, cooling salad with this chicken, or you can make the whole meal Jamaican, and serve it with Coconut Red Beans & Rice like I did here. Plenty of lime wedges and a frosty beverage, along with napkins are also requirements.
How to Make Grilled Jerk Chicken Drumsticks
Drumsticks are marinated in a mixture of spices, lime juice, and chiles, then grilled for a deliciously spicy, easy meal.
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 Scotch bonnet chile
- 2 garlic cloves chopped
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 lime juice of
- 1 2" piece fresh ginger peeled and chopped
- 1 tbsp allspice
- 1 tbsp Chinese five-spice powder
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 12 chicken drumsticks
Put all ingredients except the chicken in a food processor and process until smooth.
Put the chicken into a re-sealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over it.
Seal the bag and massage it to make sure all of the chicken is covered. Refrigerate overnight or 6-8 hours
Heat barbecue grill to high and spray with cooking spray
Remove drumsticks from marinade and transfer to a platter. Discard marinade.
Place chicken drumsticks on the grill and allow to sear, about 2 minutes per side.
Turn grill heat to low, close the lid and grill the chicken, turning occasionally, until internal temperature at the thickest part of the drumstick reads 170°, about 40 minutes. Serve hot, with lime wedges.
Use care when handling a hot chile like the Scotch Bonnet. Wear gloves and avoid touching your face.
Because you are using a food processor for this recipe, you can simply remove the stem and put the whole chile pepper in without chopping.
If you are unable to find a Scotch bonnet chile, you can substitute a Habanero.