Kwanzaa recipe: Jamaican Jerk Chicken
When Christmas ends, Kwanzaa begins! For our continued journey through the winter holidays and their signature dishes, we’ll be making Jerk Chicken for Kwanzaa today. It’s a spicy, savory recipe that packs a delicious punch that my family went crazy for. This recipe uses a delicious marinade that ensures the chicken is juicy…and you can choose to use your grill or your oven to sear it to perfection. We’ve loved learning about so many different holidays this year, and are excited to enjoy this dish during Kwanzaa, which begins on December 26 and ends on January 1 this season.
Origins of Kwanzaa
First – do you know the origins of the Kwanzaa holiday? Kwanzaa is primarily celebrated in the United States, and the holiday was devised by Maulana Karenga, a professor of Africana studies. Kwanzaa is inspired by the first-fruits celebrations from Southern Africa. The recipes and food of the holiday are varied, and include favorites like black eyed peas (in many forms), sweet potato dishes, and of course, all kinds of flavorful chicken.
Simple Ingredients That Pack a Punch
This Jerk Chicken for Kwanzaa recipe is absolutely packed with flavor! The ingredients are relatively easy to source, and should be available at your local grocery store or market. It’s important to make sure you use fresh ginger, thyme, and garlic to make sure the zing comes through; there is truly no substitute for fresh herbs! You’ll also be using dried spices like cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cloves. If it’s your first time combining flavors like these, you are in for a real treat! In the US, we often save spices like cinnamon for sweet dishes, but if you’ve ever tried cuisine that employs these warm flavors in a savory recipe, you know that it can be truly magical.
You can use a blender or food processor to combine the marinade, and make sure you let your chicken pieces get lots of time to hang out. The chicken should be marinated at a minimum of 12 hours, but can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days. If you don’t already have one, now is the perfect time to invest in a meat thermometer. Knowing the exact temperature of your meat ensures that you’ll cook it to precise doneness and preserve all the juicy flavor. I can’t wait to hear how you like this Jerk Chicken!
Serves – 4-6
- 4 pounds of Chicken Thighs and Legs
- 3-4 Habanero Peppers or Scotch Bonnet Peppers
- 1 small red Onion
- 4 Green Onions, cut into thirds
- 5-6 cloves of Garlic
- 1 small knob (about 1 inch) Ginger, roughly chopped
- 4 -5 sprigs of Fresh Thyme
- 3 tablespoons Brown Sugar
- 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
- ¼ cup Lime Juice (about2 large or 3 small limes)
- Zest of the Limes used
- 2 tablespoons Canola or Vegetable Oil
- 1 teaspoon of ground Cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of ground Nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon of ground Allspice
- ½ teaspoon of ground Cloves
- 1 teaspoon of Dried Thyme
- 1 teaspoon of Black Pepper
- 1 tablespoons of Kosher Salt
Instructions for Jerk Chicken
- In a blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients listed under “Marinade”.
2. Blend or process until it is chunky puree.
3. Place the chicken pieces in a large gallon sized Ziploc baggie. Pour the marinade over the chicken. Close the Ziploc and squish the chicken pieces around so that it is completely coated in the marinade.
4. Place the chicken in the fridge for at least 12 hours and up to 2 days.
5. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400F.
6. Line a baking tray with foil and lightly grease it. Place a cooking rack on top of the baking sheet and generously grease the cooling rack.
7. Remove the chicken piece from the marinade and tap off the excess.
8. Place it on the cooling rack, skin side up.
9. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.
10. Insert a meat thermometer to the thickest part of the chicken thighs and it should read at least of 175F.
11. Set the oven to ‘Broil’ and place the chicken back in the oven for 1 to 2 minutes or until the chicken skin is beautifully bronzed up.
12. Serve immediately with rice and beans or plantain chips.