I’ve only tried making Jerk Chicken once before, having followed Jamie’s 30 minute meals I was foolishly led to believe you could ‘jerk’ a chicken in 30 minutes and it tastes just as good, but it of course epically failed; it turned out to be more of a timid green, sweet honey parsley dipped chicken- and as a result my confidence was shattered.
However yesterday, my day off, having defrosted 5 chicken thighs the previous night and going through the usual notions in my head of what could be the best possible thing I could do with the thighs, I summoned up the courage to make another go of jerking chicken. Having done some research, I found that I didn’t have most of the core ingredients to make it in the ‘traditional’ way. So the following recipe is loosely based on jerk (hence the use of ‘jerk’ in inverted commas) but dominantly based on what ingredients I had available at the time. It turned out surprisingly well, albeit it was borderline heat intolerable, but still worth it. For the marinade I used one scotch bonnet and one habanero and I was thinking if I made it one more time would I go for both again? I probably would. But if you don’t like heat as much as I do then it’s probably best to go for one or the other. Habanero is probably my favourite chilli right now, and was genuinely delighted recently to read that they are packed with a wide range of health benefits.
As for the boneless chicken thighs, that’s how I like them. I do bone or off the bone. Some dishes lend themselves to not having to faff with the bone, such as this one. I had some fresh chicken stock that needed to be used hence I cooked the rice in the stock which obviously makes the rice taste really good.
I gave this about five hours marinating time, which seemed ample. But next time I’d try it overnight. The chicken releases lots of juices and marinade back in to the dish and this is absorbed by the sweet potato so this is by no means dry, turned out to be quite a saucy dish, and the smoked bacon acts as an overarching smoky, salty flavour enhancer. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos because I ate it all before I remembered to take the photo so you’ll have to take my word for the fact that it looked and tasted great. A thought just occurred that the chicken could also work really well on its own, barbecued. Now that will be something to look forward to.
Ingredients (feeds 2-3)
5 boneless chicken thighs, preferably free range
3 rashers smoked bacon
1 sweet potato
White rice (preferably Thai jasmine or basmati)
500mls fresh chicken stock (to cook the rice in)
1 can chick peas (to go in rice)
For the marinade:
1 habanero (rehydrated if dried) and 1 scotch bonnet (or one or the other for less heat)
Glug white wine vinegar
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp five spice
1 tbsp soy sauce
Juice 1 lime
2 spring onions, chopped
1 tsp epazote
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a food processor until they form a smooth paste
2. Mix the chicken well in the marinade and leave to marinade in the fridge for as long as possible
3. Once chicken is marinated, chop the sweet potato into small chunks and par boil for 10 minutes
4. Pre heat the oven to 190’C
5. Lay the marinade chicken in a ceramic oven dish, add the par boiled sweet potato to the dish and lay out smoked bacon on top. Put in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour
6. Meanwhile cook the rice in chicken stock. When the rice is near completion add the chick peas and let them warm up in the rice
Serve the chicken, sweet potato juices and bacon over the rice and pea.