Jerk Chicken and Mango Salsa

When your smiling, when your smiling, the whole world, smiles with you...
'It's going to be too hot.'

'It's not going to be too hot.'

'I am telling you now, if you stick all that chilli in, that jerk paste is going to be too hot.'

'It is NOT going to be too hot! I have got a ton of thyme and vinegar to throw in yet. Plus the sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon. It'll be spicy but not bastard spicy. Just enough to tickle the tongue and clear the nose a bit. And besides, a lot of the fierceness will get cooked out once I throw it on the grill.'

'Still be too hot.'

Yes, I am repeating a conversation held with my beloved Mrs FU just recently, revealing the often raised dilemma of just who do you trust, whenever you start cooking and decide to throw a shed load of chilli into the mix. Your own instinct? Despite never having really made much jerk before? Or your wife's own acute intuition? Despite the fact that she hasn't done much in the way of Caribbean cooking either? I mean, she does often get things right, especially with wine but she burns toast. Like all the time.

What to do? What to do?

In the end, I opted for temperance over exuberance and to be fair, if I had gone for the whole shebang of two scotch bonnets and a cayenne, then I may have blasted the roof off my sparsely covered head.

Instead, it was what I might call 'just about right...thereabouts...maybe.'

But anyway, a decent jerk is all about getting those woody notes to come through, yes? It should be warm and with an almost cloying sweet touch, more than anything else, with a gloriously crispy skin. Well, that's what I've got from reading up on the subject anyway.

So yes, I am pretty pleased with this one. Or at least I was and then I served it at a BBQ recently and got this bit of feedback:

'Nice jerk chicken, Dan. But to be honest, it wasn't spicy enough for me.'

You live and learn and with this recipe, I suggest adjusting the amount of chilli to suit your own tastes. And bugger listening to anyone else.

Jerk blitzed
Jerk chicken with Mango Salsa - serves 4


For the jerk chicken

4 medium sized chicken legs, de-boned, skin on
1 white onion, chopped
4 spring onions, chopped
1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1 scotch bonnet, chopped
1 tbs fresh thyme leaves, picked
1 tsp Jamaican allspice
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Half tsp ground cinnamon
Half tsp fennel seed (yes, naughty)
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Juice of one lime
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs rapeseed oil

Jerk mixed
For the mango salsa

1 mango, diced
1 cucumber, diced
Half a red onion, diced
Half a red chilli, chopped finely
Small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
Zest and juice of one lime
Salt and pepper, to season
4 brioche buns, to serve

Fruity salsa to temper the heat.

To make the jerk mix, simply whizz everything up in your food processor, until it forms a thick paste. If it seems a little too dry, then let it down with a dash of water and blend again.

Place your chicken into a bowl and pour over the jerk paste and mix thoroughly to combine. Leave to marinate for at least four hours or overnight.

When ready to cook, light your bbq and wait till your coals are white and place the grill on top. Then pop the chicken on and cook briskly, turning often as the sugar in the mix does catch quite quickly.

After 15 - 20 mins they should be ready but I have taken to using my temperature probe lately, so you could to do the same, making sure that the internal temp gets to 74°C.

Whilst the chicken is cooking, you can also make up your salsa by combining all the ingredients in another bowl, making sure that you mix everything together and season to taste.

When the chicken is done, simply carve each leg into two and place on the bottom half of a brioche bun, add a scoop of salsa on the jerk chicken and then press the top part of the bun down. Liken on top. You know.

Some mayo wouldn't go amiss either.

Crispy skin remember

Just look at that!


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