The word ‘barbecue’ originates in the Caribbean. The Taino people of the Caribbean dug pits to cook their food, building fires overlaid with green branches of the pimento tree. The branches formed a rack on which the meat was then cooked.
Things have since moved on somewhat in the Caribbean, and these days it’s more common to see barbecues made from old oil barrels cut in half (the same barrels from which they make kettle drums), over which their famous jerk meat is cooked.
The thing that makes jerk so great is the use of the aromatic and super-hot Scotch bonnet chilli.
Warning! Approach these chillies with caution. Jerked chicken is great served with Caribbean rice and beans.
12 chicken thighs, bone in
chopped spring onions, to garnish
½ bunch spring onions, chopped
¼ bunch coriander, chopped
3 Scotch bonnet or other hot chillies
60 ml (¼ cup) tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons thyme
1 cm piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice or ground pimento
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Trim the chicken thighs of any excess fat and skin. Wash and pat dry.
Combine the marinade ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
Rub the marinade all over the chicken (you might like to wear disposable gloves to do this). Place the chicken in a plastic or ceramic dish. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or overnight if possible.
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature.
Prepare your barbecue for direct grilling. Have one side at a medium–high heat and around one-third of the heat source at a lower heat to allow the chicken to cook slowly, preventing the marinade from burning.
Initially, place the thighs over the higher heat to seal and colour the chicken. Add half a cup of pre-soaked woodchips to the lower heat source, then move the chicken to slowly cook over the lower heat for 15–20 minutes. If using gas, heat your woodchips in a smoke box prior to moving the chicken to cook over the lower heat.
Sprinkle with spring onions and serve while hot.
This recipe first appeared in Ben’s BBQ Bible ($39.95) courtesy of Hardie Grant.