Spicy, sweet, juicy, saucy…what’s not to love with this delicious Smoked Jerk Chicken Recipe. Not to be disrespectful to Jamaica, but there’s also a little Alaskan flare in the marinade. The result? One of the most delicious pieces of meat I’ve eaten.
Smoked Jerk Chicken
So “Smokin’ Sundays” are definitely a thing in our household at this point. I would say 3-4 times a month, some form of meat, side dish, or dessert ends up in the smoker. While we are still learning the art of our two smokers and are by no means pit masters, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste just dang delicious. Sometimes we feel like smokin’ heros!
In expanding our horizons, Jeff wanted to take on one of our favorite flavors, Jamaican Jerk; and make Smoked Jerk Chicken. So we began researching and testing recipes. However, one of the problems we commonly run into in Alaska is that we often can’t find all the ingredients classic recipes call for. That means we improvise, and as always, try to incorporate a little of Alaska into our cooking.
I’m not going to lie, most Jerk recipes have A LOT of ingredients that go into the marinade/sauce (I feel like we threw the pantry at it). And I have to say, I think to get that true classic flavor, they are needed. So this recipe does have it’s fair share, but that’s what it takes to get the sweet, saucy, heat that is smoked jerk chicken.
Adaptions from the Classic Jerk Recipe
Some of the alterations we made for this recipe are:
In lieu of Scotch bonnet peppers, we used habaneros (after 4 stores, I gave up trying to find Scotch bonnets).
And to bring it home to Alaska, we added mid-run Birch Syrup, and….drum roll….blueberries. (Yes that’s right, blueberries. I’m well on my way to creating Alaskan style BBQ. Watch out Texas, North Carolina, Kansas City and Memphis!) Both additional ingredients are optional, but if you can get them, try it for a sweet, fruity punch.
For the chicken, we chose to use breasts on the bone with the skin on. That way, unless overcooked, the chicken remains moist and juicy plus my family prefers white meat. But, by all means use your favorite chicken pieces: thighs, wings, etc…just watch the finishing temps!
Of note, we did make our own “5 spice blend” using this recipe from the Food Network but there are some versions available in stores (just not here). And we cooked down the remaining jerk sauce marinade to make a “Jerk BBQ Sauce”; the simple recipe is found below.
Lastly, instead of pimento wood (which of course we couldn’t find), we used hickory.
When all was said and smoked, I have to say this is one of the tastiest pieces of chicken I have ever eaten! If you don’t have a smoker no worries, go low and slow on the grill. Just be sure to watch those internal temperatures.
Smoked Jerk Chicken Recipe
For the Jerk Sauce:
- 1 medium onion coarsely chopped
- 3 medium scallions chopped,
- 2 habanero or Scotch bonnet chiles *add up to 5 if you like it hot
- 2 garlic cloves chopped
- 1 Tbsp. five-spice powder **Recipe below
- 1 Tbsp. allspice berries coarsely ground
- 1 Tbsp. coarsely ground pepper
- 1 tsp. dried thyme crumbled
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 1-2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp fresh ginger grated or 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 c. soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil or oil of choice
- 1/4 c. lime juice fresh or bottled
- 1/2 c. orange juice
- 1/4 c. birch syrup optional
- 1/2 c. fresh blueberries optional
- 2 lbs. chicken breasts bone in skin on (or chicken cuts of choice, monitor internal temps)
For the Jerk Sauce
- In a food processor, combine the onion, scallions, chiles, garlic, five spice powder, allspice, pepper, thyme, nutmeg, salt, cinnamon, ginger, brown sugar, and blueberries: process to a coarse paste.
- With speed on low, add liquid ingredients soy sauce, oil, lime juice, orange juice, and birch syrup in a steady stream until combined.
For the Chicken
- Place chicken in ziplock bags and pour in jerk sauce. Allow to marinate in refrigerator a minimum of 8 hours, preferably overnight.
- Remove bags prior to cooking and allow chicken to come to room temperature. Reserve marinade for Jerk BBQ Sauce if desired*** (Recipe below).
- Heat smoker to 275 degrees, use pimento wood if available (or wood of choice, we used hickory). Or turn on and heat BBQ grill to medium.
- To smoke, place chicken on rack, insert temperature probe and cook for ~ 2-2 1/2 hours to internal temperature of ~165-170 degrees for white meat and 170-175 degrees for dark meat.
- To grill, turn occasionally until well browned and internal temperature as noted above ~30-40 min.
- Remove chicken when done, cover with foil, and allow to rest ~ 20 minutes.
- Serve it up topped with Jerk BBQ Sauce*** if desired and enjoy.
- *Use disposable gloves to prep habanero or Scotch bonnet chiles. Avoid contact with skin or eyes.
- **Five Spice Recipe from Food Network: 2 tsp. peppercorns, 8 whole star anise, 1 tsp. whole cloves, 1 tsp. fennel seeds, 1 tsp ground cinnamon. Toast the peppercorns in a hot pan until aromatic, about 1 minute. Put into an electric spice or coffee grinder along with the star anise, cloves and fennel seeds and process into a powder. Add the cinnamon and process for a few seconds to combine. Makes ~ 1/4 c., store in an airtight jar.
- *** To make simple Jerk BBQ Sauce, simmer reserved marinade while chicken is cooking. Add 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar, 2 Tbsp. brown sugar, 1/2-3/4 c. tomato product of choice (i.e. catsup, commercial or homemade BBQ sauce (we used the recipe for homemade sauce found on this blog). Reduce to desired consistency.