Sunday, May 17, 2015

Kentucky Jerk Chicken Legs

I've never been to Jamaica--yet, but I'm bringing the flavor of Jamaica to Kentucky with this jerk recipe I'm about to throw your way.  I have experimented and tested and experimented some more with jerk sauces.  I've even gone as far to doctor up store bought sauces.  I could never get the flavor that I wanted.  It was either too spicy or too sweet.  Dare I say, I've finally created something that makes me really, really, really happy.  I mean, really happy.  Like, I didn't want to stop eating.  But I did.  And I was sad.

Disclaimer:  I am not a jerk expert (actually I am but that's a different type of jerk).  I am an Aimee expert though, and I know exactly what I love.  To my friends--insert "jerk" jokes here. 

I'm coming to the end of a desperately needed four day weekend.  I was burnt out and just needed some me time.  Yes, I know that technically every day after 4:45 is me time, but I have completely enjoyed waking up without an alarm even though I still was up by 6:45 every morning.  It's just what I do.  I especially enjoyed getting to hang out with my mom!  We hit some yard sales (not literally) on Friday and then headed out to Marksbury Farm for lunch at their restaurant Pasture.  Go there.  I'm serious.  Simple.  Charming.  Delicious.  I also managed to get a majority of my garden planted.  I got a late start so we will see!

So.  Chicken.  I was at Trader Joe's and they just happened to have free range chicken legs on sale.  I have become quite the chicken leg fanatic but I only seem to eat them in the summer.  Is that weird? I immediately knew that I would use this marinade/sauce on them.  I like to think it was fate.  Coincidentally, this marinade is also the sauce that is used to finish the chicken.  Sweet, spicy, transformative.  I marinated the chicken for about 24 hours.  If you're a grill master, throw these babies right on the grill.  I am not.  Therefore, I threw these in the oven for about 45 minutes at 425 degrees.  I wish I was an expert griller.  Actually, I wish I was a pit-master.  I want a smoker.  Yes, seriously.  Man, I am all over the place today.  

When you see the ingredient list, you might feel a little overwhelmed.  Don't be.  It's worth it.  It's basically measure and mix.  For me, this is pretty spicy but balanced well with the sweetness in this recipe.  If you prefer less spice, remove the seeds from the Serranos.  Also, I use coconut oil when cooking the marinade down into the sauce.  I have not tested this out with any other oils so adjust at your own risk.  I've been seeing some recipes with what I consider to be large amounts of sesame oil. I just recently discovered that there are two different kinds. In this recipe I've used toasted or dark sesame oil.  I think I've managed to cover all my bases. Now, go. Marinate. 

Kentucky Jerk Chicken Legs

6 chicken legs
Zest of 1 orange
3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (about 2 oranges)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup sorghum or molasses
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
4 garlic cloves
3 serranos
1/4 teaspoon dark or toasted sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon all-spice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons masa or corn flour


In a mini chopper or food processor, combine orange zest, serranos and garlic until finely chopped.  Transfer to a medium sized bowl.  Add orange juice, honey, sorghum, tamari, sesame oil, apple cider vinegar and water.  

Place chicken legs into a plastic zip bag and pour half of the marinade in the bag.  Place in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally.

Store the reserved marinade in the fridge until the chicken is ready to bake. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  

Remove chicken from marinade and dry with paper towels.  Place chicken on a rack on a baking sheet.  Bake for about 40-45 minutes.  Remove from oven and tint with foil.  Let chicken rest for at least 10 minutes. 

While chicken is baking, remove marinade from the refrigerator and transfer to a sauce pan.  Add coconut oil, brown sugar, all-spice, cinnamon and masa or corn flour.  Bring to a boil over medium-low heat.  Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the mixture starts to thicken.  Remove from heat.

Pour half of the glaze over the chicken and serve.  Reserve the remainder for dipping. 

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