When I made this chicken, for yet another mini dinner party, I was a little bit disappointed. The chicken was moist and flavorful, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it, but the jerk seasoning wasn’t very present. It was a good roast chicken, with some subtle interesting hints of the jerk rub. So, I decided to try it again. I still had some jerk rub in the fridge, I bought a whole chicken breast instead of a whole chicken, and after giving the chicken a good solid rub-down, I let it sit overnight. I came home from an eight mile hike, threw it on the grill for about 25 minutes (turning it 4 times), and devoured it. I swear that it might be the best chicken I’ve ever eaten, but I also admit that hunger might be coloring my judgment…slightly. It is very, very good chicken. So good, that when my Dad comes down next weekend, I think I might make it for him.

Jerk Chicken (adapted from The Soul of a New Cuisine)

The spice quotient on this version is actually quite mild. It has a subtle kick at the end of the bite, but if you want to kick it up a notch, you can throw some habaneros in for some or all of the jalapenos. You could also up the cayenne pepper, which is what I will probably do when my Dad comes, since I still am working on my original batch of rub.

For the rub: (this would also be great on pork, beef, shrimp, or white fish)

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapeño chilies, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped (for more heat include seeds and ribs, or use habañeros)
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (you could add more for more heat)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
4 scallions, trimmed and chopped
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup red wine vinegar.

1. Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat, when the oil is hot, add garlic and jalapeños and saute for about 3 minutes, until the garlic begins to color. Add the allspice, cinnamon, cayenne, and brown sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar melts and the mixture starts to clump together. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

2. Transfer mixture to a blender. Add the white pepper, thyme, salt, ginger, scallions, lime juice, and red wine vinegar. Blend until smooth.

Makes 1 cup (can be stored in the fridge for up to 10 days)

For roast chicken:

One 3-4 pound whole chicken
1/2 cup Jerk rub
2 thyme sprigs, cut in half
1/2 head of garlic, top third cut off and paper skin removed
2 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 medium parsnip, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 onion, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1 inch cubes

1. Loosen the skin of the chicken breast. Rub half of the jerk mex under and all over the breast skin and on the outer skin of the legs and wings. Stuff half the thyme under the skin. Put garlic in the cavity of the chicken and truss the chicken. The longer you let the rub sit on the chicken, the more flavorful it will be (up to 24 hours). I would recommend letting the chicken sit in the fridge with the rub for at least 2 hours. However, the first time I made it, it went straight in the oven and was still good.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine potatoes and parsnip in a large pot and cover with salted water. Boil for 10 minutes on high heat, until vegetables are just slightly tender. Drain.

3. Toss the potatoes, parsnip, and onion with the jerk mix and spread in a single layer in a roasting pan. Add the thyme. Place the chicken on a roasting rack above the vegetables, roast for 45 minutes.

4. Add the pears to the pan, increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees and roast for an additional 30-40 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 160 degrees and the juices run clear.

For grilled chicken:

One bone-in chicken breast
1/4 cup Jerk rub
1 thyme sprig, cut in half

1. Loosen the skin with your fingers and rub the jerk mix under the skin and on top of the skin. Insert the thyme sprigs under the skin. Let the chicken sit covered in the fridge for at least 2 hours (up to 24).

2. Place the chicken on a hot grill and turn every 5-10 minutes for 20-25 minutes, until the juices run clear, and a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast registers 180 degrees.