Jerk chicken is one of the dishes you’ll find at this year’s Texas Folklife Festival, which runs Friday-Sunday at the Institute of Texan Cultures, 801 E. Durango Blvd. The recipe for this spicy Jamaican dish varies from kitchen to kitchen. Here’s a version from Allen Vernon, known in New York as “the King of Jerk.” The sauce can be used to marinate a variety of meats from pork to red snapper. “You can even use my sauce like ketchup,” Vernon says in “New York Cookbook” by Mollie O’Neill. “One guy pours it on his scrambled eggs.”
Vernon’s Jerk-style Jamaican Chicken
1 1/4 pounds large white onions, quartered
1/2 pound fresh habanero chiles (also called Jamaican chiles or Scotch bonnets), cored and quartered (see note)
4 ounces fresh ginger, peeled
1/4 cup ground allspice
1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup dark soy sauce
1 (4- to 6-pound) chicken, well rinsed, patted dry and cut into 6 pieces
Note: Be sure to wear rubber gloves when handling these very hot peppers. If you don’t, you could irritate and burn your skin.
Pulverize the onions, chiles and ginger in a blender or food processor. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the allspice, thyme, black pepper, vinegar and soy sauce.
Coat the chicken with the sauce. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours, turning once.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a shallow pan of boiling water on the oven floor. Put the chicken on a rack and place in a roasting pan. Roast, basting frequently with the sauce, until three-quarters cooked (120 degrees on a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh), 30 to 45 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven.
Preheat a broiler or grill.
Baste the chicken with more jerk sauce. Sear the chicken for 5 minutes under a preheated broiler over a very hot charcoal fire. Remove from the heat and let sit for 15 minutes before eating.
The sauce will keep well in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container.
Makes 6 servings.
From “New York Cookbook” by Molly O’Neill