Chef’s Secrets: Caribbean Bajan Chicken

By Chef Marcus Webster

Photo credit: Tropicalsky.co.uk

Photo credit: Tropicalsky.co.uk

As promised, I am sharing one of my favorite island barbecue recipes this week. Through this column, one of my goals is to teach people how to barbecue. It is a fairly easy process and will surely “wow” your guests as you get ready for summer barbecues, family get-togethers and other special events.

It also pays tribute to my Caribbean roots and will surely spice up your summer get-togethers. I am proud of the way I learned how to barbecue from my dad who taught me how to jazz up the meat and marinades by adding ginger, rum, peppers and seasonings. He would always tell me to “give love to the fire” by including onion skins, cinnamon sticks and pecan chips that flavor the fire.

So here’s a taste of the Caribbean! As they say in the islands, “everytin’ irie, mon!” (everything’s okay, man).

Caribbean Bajan Chicken

Ingredients:

  • one whole chicken (about 2-3 lbs.) or as an alternative, pork butt or loin (about 2-3 lbs.)
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • one yellow onion, medium, coarsely chopped (save skin and other parts)
  • bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped (save stems)
  • 2 bunches of scallions, coarsely chopped (save ends)
  • 2 jalapeno or serrano peppers (seeded for mild; leave seeds if you want it spicier; save ends)
  • 2 oz. fresh thyme
  • 1 oz. ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 4 oz. soy sauce
  • 3 oz. brown sugar
  • 2 oz. lime juice
  • 2 oz. spiced rum
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Procedure:

1) Place all ingredients in a blender and puree. Set aside. Save some of the seasoning before it is added to the chicken, for basting or slightly warm for a glaze at the end of the cooking process.

2) Cut the backbone from the whole chicken and lay flat on a sheet pan.

3) Wash the chicken and place wet seasoning underneath the skin and also into the cavity all throughout.

4) Let marinade overnight to allow seasoning to marry into the meat.

5) Before you light your grill, soak some hickory, pecan or any sweet wood chips along with the onion skin and all the other saved parts that you used for the seasoning. By soaking the wood chips, you can maintain a nice smokey taste without burning the chips or having flame-ups.

6) When the coals begin to turn in color, place the chicken, bone side down so that the chicken will cook throughout and the seasoning under the skin will cook through your meat.

7) Once it has a nice char to it on the bone side, turn the chicken over and continue to cook until the internal temperature is 160 degrees.

8) The final internal temperature should be 165 degrees, but the chicken will continue to cook as it rests. For a really moist chicken, wrap in foil and let sit to the side of the grill for an additional 15 minutes.

Chef Marcus Webster has been a professional chef for over 20 years, starting as a private chef before becoming a corporate chef at the Thousand Oaks-based Auctions in Motion. He is currently the executive chef and co-owner of Nawlinz Bistro in downtown Oxnard and Conejo Valley Catering, the catering arm of Nawlinz Bistro 


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