Grilling: How to Make Jerk Chicken at Home

Jamaican jerk chicken is one of those regional food specialities that have been historically nearly impossible to recreate elsewhere. Sure, you can do an overnight rest in a scallion, scotch bonnet, and allspice heavy marinade, grill everything nice and slow, but you’d still be missing the signature ingredient that makes jerk chicken something truly unique: the pimento wood on which its cooked. This tree, which produces allspice berries, is native to the Caribbean, and cooks take lengths of green wood, soak it in water, and lay it atop the glowing charcoal, placing the chicken halves or quarters on top.

The Food Lab took a look at what makes pimento wood so special, and figured out a way to recreate its unique flavor with easy-to-find dry spices and aromatics. The results are a totally accessible recipe that I’m totally planning to make this weekend. 

This smoking with spices technique is similar to this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen (subscription required), which I made on July 4th this year, and totally fell in love. 

Check out The Food Lab’s recipe and technique: How to Make Jerk Chicken at Home