Jamaican Jerk Chicken on the WSM



I am fairly new to using the WSM. Tried a new recipe today that came out very well. There is an excellent recipe for spicy Jamaican "jerk" chicken available at the Epicurious site at this link:

I made the marinade as decribed in the recipe, except I had to substitute serrano chiles for the habaneros because I couldn't find them. I cut up a couple of chickens into leg quarters and cut the breasts in half to allow good contact with the marinade. After overnight in the marinade, I cooked the chicken using the directions in Chris' "Chicken, Chicken" under Let's Cook. Water in the pan, target temp was 250, used a small amount of hickory to give a nice smokiness that would go well with the heavy spices. Since it was snowing and low 30's here in PA, I never reached the target temp (most of the cook was around 230), so it took more than four hours to get to the right internal temperature. I probably should have gone with a dry pan and/or used a lot more fuel given the weather. Anyway, the flavor of the chicken was excellent (if you like things a bit spicy) and the marinade kept the chicken nice and moist. I will try harder to find the habaneros next time, because after the long cook it wasn't quite as hot as I would have liked.

Anybody else "do the jerk" in their WSM?
Hey Mike, thanks for the link. My girlfriend picked up some Jamaican Jerk Paste from the local deli, and it's very similar to that recipe (minus the garlic). I am tempted to try it tomorrow, but I've never used a paste on a BBQ chicken before. So for the first cook I'll probably "go with what I know" and use the cheapo Kikoman Teriyaki marinade. But once I get more experience with the WSM, I'll try some new recipes, and the JERK is definitely on the horizon.
I just finished a jerk chicken WSM cook. I've searched and searched to find "authentic" jerk recipes and discovered a wide variety of recipes. I have a recipe that I've used for a couple of years and like, but didn't feel it was authentic because it contains soy sauce (3/4 cup). Somehow, I don't think Jamaica had soy sauce. Anyway I found a recipe in a caribbean food book that had similar ingredients, but used lime juice instead of soy sauce.

I butterflied two chickens, marinaded one in the recipe with soy sauce and the other in the new recipe with lime juice. One bird on the top rack, one on the bottom rack. Another post here mentioned using 50-50 mix of hickory and cherry to simulate pimento wood, so I tried it. Lid temps were 250-260. 5 hours later, birds were done. My wife and I prefered the recipe with lime juice instead of soy sauce. You could definitely taste the soy sauce. 2 fist sized chunks of hickory and cherry were perfect. Moist, favorful birds. 2 habaneros in each marinade added a great burn (a little too much for the uninitiated)

It was better than the jerk chicken I got at Dunn River Falls (tourist food), but not as good as the jerk from the Pork Pit in Montego Bay. I'm still trying to duplicate that taste.
Hi guys!

Here are 2 that are pretty authentic and very tasty. NO soy sauce!


This one is from my cookin' partner.......

Tim's Jerk Paste

1 large Onion(s), chopped
4 Scallion(s), chopped
4 clove(s) Garlic, chopped
1 - 4 Habanero chiles
3 Bay leaf(s)
1 teaspoon Allspice
1/2 teaspoon Thyme
1/4 teaspoon Cloves
2 tablespoon(s) Olive oil
2 teaspoon(s) Salt
1/4 cup Rum, dark
3 tablespoon(s) Lime juice

Heat olive oil and saute everything except salt, rum and lime juice.

Turn heat up and add salt, rum and lime juice.

Simmer until liquid is absorbed.

Rub paste on meat and let sit overnight.

This one uses double the amount of allspice....

Jerk Paste

3 Green onions
2 teaspoon Allspice
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Ginger, fresh
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Black pepper
2 Garlic clove(s)
4 Bay leaf(s)
2 tablespoon(s) Oil
2 Jalapeno peppers, diced
1 Habanero chiles

Put everything except oil in food processor and chop fine.

Add oil slowly until smooth.

Coat both sides of meat and let sit for several hours or overnight.


Here's a simple question..... when using a paste
type of marinade on chicken, do you remove the skin? And if not, how does the marinade penetrate the skin, to get into the flesh? In fact, I have a problem understanding the whole marinade process as it applies to chicken and the question of skin vs no skin.

Anyone care to explain it to me?

The marinade does not seem to penetrate the skin which is good for the jerk chicken recipe b/c I can take off the skin and remove the the spicy taste for my kids. I also rub the marinade/paste under the skin on the breasts and thighs to impart some of the flavor, but most if not all of the heat from the habanero peppers is removed with the skin.
I always rub any paste or combination butter mixtures under the skin of poultry before cooking it. This gives the paste a chance to interact with the meat and not just sit on the surface of the skin.

I do agree with Dave L. that you have to know your audience and that if some are spice insensitive then you should only use the rub on the skin.

Stogie those jerk pastes look awesome, pretty much like every other recipe that you post. BTW I tried the Key Lime tarts this weekend and they were a big hit, thanks.

Hey Sespe!

You pretty much got your answer from Tim and Dave. The skin is real easy to lift without taking it completely off. Lift, apply rub, replace. Repeat. Just like shampoo! LOL

You need it on so when you cook, it will keep things a little moister. Once cooked, you can then remove it or keep it on. I always remove it as we are not big "skin" fans..we are Packer fans!! LOL Get it?? LOL That one was just for you, my friend!

Tim, thanks for the compliment and glad you liked the Key Lime tarts! I am cooking 6 of them(pies in this case) for one of my doctor clinics this Friday. Sometimes I just talk too darn much about BBQ. Then everyone says..Prove it! LOL

Hope you enjoy the Jerk recipes!
Thanks to all three of you guys! I like skin, but only if it is silky smooth and unwrinkled, with just a hint of Red Door.

Stogie -- I've been meaning to ask you... What is a Packer? You refer to a Packer or Packers quite frequently, but I'm not sure I've ever seen one. I've been to Green Bay twice, on my way up the Door Peninsula to do some Salmon fishing and I didn't see a single one. Are they real? Do they really exist? Are they what is known as the Taxi Squad for the Raiders?.... Just had to do it, Buddy.

Thanks for the great jerk recipes.
Stogie comes through again!

I recently tried a recipe I found using google, I should have looked here first. I guess I was excited, since my neighbors are from Jamaica and I wanted to see if I could come close to what they know Jamaican Jerk food as.

I told them to be honest, since I knew my first try would be off, and they don't mind volunteering as calibrators.

The recipe I used had soy sauce, and I let it marinade for two-days, by accident. I used hickory only. It took about 2 hours to cook.

The comments were:

1) The chicken needed more saltiness flavor
(which begs the question, can you brine before marinading?)

2) Usually the chicken is fall-off-the-bone tender. As it was not in my first cook. Here's an unusual comment - my neighbor says they cook for up to six hours.

3) My neighbor was refering to back country Jamaica, and not the Kingston area, where he says they regulate the cook by the amount of smoke wafting from the cooker, not tempurature guages. Using pimento leaves and wood.

I will try Stogies first paste recipe next time. I feel like Homer Simpson when he says "Doh!"
There is certainly nothing like the smell of jerk coming off the grill, last time I tried it in the WSM I didn't get the same smell, I'm wondering if finishing over the coals might help.
I have even considered choking the fire down and not using a waterpan.

I have found that if you use a fairly salty brine on poultry (something like 4 hours) then a marinade with no salt, the marinade seems to absorb more than if it were not brined.
I tried this with two chicken halves (same bird, same time, same temp ...) and the brined one was much better. I also co-opted my wife who chose the brined chicken as the tastier.

So, I think I'll try a long cook jerk chicken this weekend, thanks

i've always used Scoth bonnet peppers for jerk-they're a bit fruitier than habs and most often used in Jamaica, at least everywheere there I've had jerk.
Both Scotches and habs grow easily. Fresh ones you pick (or get from a store) can be frozen in Zip-locs for winter jerk.

I also brine first and work the paste into the flesh under the skin.
Nice info all, thanks.

Regards to the 6 hour cook. I am thinking my neighbor may be amiss with regard to chicken, but I i've been wrong before.

My neighbor has some Scotches in a jar, and some pimento from Jamaica.

She got them from Jamaica, but I think they can be found here in the LA/Orange County area.
Good afternoon.

I am going to try Stogies recipe for Jerk. My quesiton is should I cook with water in the pan or water without? I planned on cooking two whole chickens. Any help is appreciated. Thanks
It depends on what you are looking for. If you want fall-of-then-bone then sure, use the pan with water in it and cook at lower temps. You can do legs, thighs or leg quarters for quite a while this way. Eat when done to your liking or drop the pan down over the coals to firm and/or crips the skin first (be right on top of it though to move pieces, flip, etc., so burning is avoided. You can also just bump the temps up near the end of the cook so that the skin firms a bit that way, rather than going direct (I like to go direct at the end).

You can, alternatively, cook at high heat for a shorter cook. The finish is a bit different.

If doing breasts or whole chickens you can still low/slow if you prefer but you need to be careful of the breast meat --not overcooking it to the point of drying out. If I am doing whole chickens I usually cut them in to pieces to brine then marinate (as noted in the OP) then, for cooking I simply put the breast pieces on later in the process.
Thanks for the response. I made the jerk today and covered four half chickens with it and they are resting in the fridge. I will probably cook them with water in the pan and then finish on direct heat at the end. I am guessing it will take ~3 hours? I will let you know how it turns out.
I made the chicken today. It was pretty good but not the best. I should have crisped the skin for a while. I cooked the chicken without any water in the pan for about an hour. The jerk sauce I made was very good. I tried simmering it into more of a paste but it started splattering, so I gave up on that.