BBQ33/17: Jerk Chicken over Pimento Sticks and Leaves:
It’s been a while since I cooked Jerk Chicken last but I really enjoyed Rich Harris’s recipe and planned to cook it again soon then one day. Then on Twitter I saw Hot Smoked advertising Pimento Wood and Leaves for authentic Jerk cooking and knew I had to buy some: Hot Smoked
I did a bit of reading up on Pimento and saw that it’s native to Jamaica and is the tree that produces All Spice berries. The wood is used extensively in Jamaica when cooking Jerk Chicken and is soaked then placed above the fire with the chicken on top of the wood to cook and steam it whilst picking up a smoky flavour from the oils in the wood and the smoke generated through the cooking process.
I found a great write up by Kenji which went into a lot of details and listed all the testing he did with various methods and techniques so I decided to use his recipe: Kenji’s Jerk Chicken Recipe
I bought some chickens from Herb Fed and butterflied then split one in half for this cook. I made the marinade (peppers, spring onions, ginger, garlic, thyme, allspice, nutmeg, brown sugar, soy sauce, lime zest and juice, olive oil, black pepper and sea salt) then poured it all over the chickens which were sat in deep sided dishes and left them in the fridge overnight. The Jerk marinade was really tasty, it was quite fruity with a nice spicy aftertaste, not too fiery. I also put 3 dozen Pimento leaves and 1/4 cup (we have measuring cups!) of all spice berries in a zip lock bag filled with water to soak overnight also.
On the day of the cook I set the BBQ up with 2 zones and placed the Pimento sticks on the indirect cook zone. Having read up a bit more since the cook I should have soaked the wood to release more steam off the wood during the cook – a note for next time!
I then took 2 dozen of the Pimento leaves and placed them on top of the sticks. Again, since reading up again after the cook I should have placed the leaves down first with the sticks on top. I had seen that before the cook but wasn’t sure the leaves would stay on top of the grill bars, since completing the cook I can see they would have been fine – another note for next time!
I placed the chickens on the Pimento sticks and dropped some Pimento leaves and All Spice berries into the lit charcoal then shut the lid. I repeated this after 15 and 30 minutes but also topped up the charcoal after 30 minutes.
The chicken on the right is lighter as it doesn’t have the soy sauce in the marinade (allergy).
After around an hour the chicken was at 62c internal so I flipped them onto the direct heat to take them up to 75c. On reflection this was probably too long to crisp the skin and with a few flare ups the skin got pretty charred! Next time I think I would use the grill grates over direct heat to protect from flare ups but also keep them over direct heat for a shorter time.
The chicken smelt and tasted really good, the Pimento had really added a different dimension to the cook and we really enjoyed it. My favourite parts were the legs and wings which really had a strong taste from the jerk sauce and the Pimento wood. The breast was nice and juicy but didn’t have the strength of taste as the legs. I think next time I would just cook legs rather than the whole chicken. I would probably slash the legs as with Rich Harris’s method to get the marinade into the flesh a bit more.
We served it up with rice and peas but should have probably grilled some plantain too.
- Put the leaves down before the sticks.
- Soak the sticks before putting them on the BBQ.
- You an use bay leaves if you don’t have Pimento leaves.
- Cook chicken legs rather than the whole chickens and slash the flesh with a knife before applying the marinade.
- Use the grill grates over direct heat to protect from flare ups when crisping the skin at the end.