Jerk Chicken Rice Bowls

published Oct 13, 2021
Jerk Chicken Rice Bowls Recipe

This weeknight take on Jamaican jerk chicken features a quick, flavor-packed blender marinade — and lots of delicious serving suggestions.

Serves4

Prep20 minutes

Cook35 minutes to 45 minutes

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jerk chicken in a rice bowl
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

I have a soft spot for jerk anything: jerk salmon, jerk shrimp, jerk chicken, you name it. This is not a surprising confession for a Jamaican — I grew up eating jerked food and love it to this day. But as I’ve grown older, one thing I don’t like is how long it takes to prepare. We’re talking about day-long marinades for traditional jerk chicken, which I just don’t have time for anymore!

Here, I’m sharing my new go-to jerk chicken recipe — the one I whip up on even the busiest weeknights. I’ve cut the marinade time to just one hour (although meal preppers can still go the overnight route!), pared down the ingredients list, and tested it with a variety of proteins, including quicker-cooking chicken breasts and even extra-firm tofu. To serve, I pair the chicken with cooked brown rice, black beans, salsa, and fried plantains — aka deliciousness in a bowl.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

A Faster, Easier Jerk Chicken Marinade

Jerk marinades can be wet or dry, and while the specific ingredients vary widely, they share one similarity: a very lengthy ingredient list. Today’s recipe features a simplified wet marinade that relies on a few of the usual heavy hitters: scotch bonnet (or habanero) pepper, scallions, fresh ginger, vinegar, and brown sugar. Just add everything to a blender or food processor, blend until smooth, then add to a zip-top bag along with the chicken quarters. It’s my favorite way to infuse lots of delicious flavor in a short amount of time, and I can’t wait for you to try it.

Jerk Chicken Rice Bowls Recipe

This weeknight take on Jamaican jerk chicken features a quick, flavor-packed blender marinade — and lots of delicious serving suggestions.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 35 minutes to 45 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the jerk chicken:

  • 1

    small yellow onion

  • 6

    medium scallions

  • 1/2 to 1 Scotch bonnet or habanero pepper

  • 1 (1-inch) piece

    ginger

  • 3 cloves

    garlic

  • 1/4 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup

    Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon

    apple cider vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons

    dried thyme leaves, or 6 sprigs fresh thyme

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt (omit if using soy sauce)

  • 4

    bone-in, skin-on chicken leg quarters, preferably small

  • 1 tablespoon

    canola oil

  • 1

    medium lime

  • 1 tablespoon

    thinly sliced scallions or coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

For the fried sweet plantains:

  • 1

    large very ripe plantain (the skin should be black)

  • 2 tablespoons

    canola oil

For the quick smokey black beans:

  • A few sprigs fresh cilantro

  • 1 (about 15-ounce) can

    black beans

  • 2 teaspoons

    paprika

  • 1 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • Salt

Serving options:

  • Cooked brown rice

  • Guacamole

  • Mango salsa or tomato salsa

  • Sour cream

Instructions

Make the jerk chicken:

  1. Prepare the following, placing each in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment or a blender as it is completed: coarsely chop 1 small onion (about 3/4 cup). Trim 6 medium scallions. Trim the stem from 1/2 to 1 Scotch bonnet pepper, depending on heat preference. Peel 1-inch piece ginger. Add 3 garlic cloves, 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar, 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 6 fresh thyme sprigs or 2 teaspoons dried thyme, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt (omit the salt if using soy sauce). Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the container as needed.

  2. Transfer the marinade to a large zip top bag. Add 4 chicken quarters or a mix of chicken legs, wings, and thighs. Massage the bag to coat the chicken. Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

  3. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 450ºF. Coat 1 rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon canola oil. Remove the chicken from the bag and shake off any excess marinade. Place the chicken skin-side down on the baking sheet, spacing the pieces at least 1-inch apart.

  4. Bake, flipping halfway through, until cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers at least 165ºF, 20 to 25 minutes total (the skin will look blackened). If you’d like crispy skin, broil until the skin darkens and sizzles, 2 to 3 minutes.

  5. While the chicken is cooking, quarter 1 medium lime. Thinly slice or coarsely chop until you have 1 tablespoon scallions or fresh cilantro if desired. Make the plantains and black beans.

Make the fried plantains:

  1. Peel 1 large plantain and cut crosswise on a slight diagonal into 1-inch thick pieces (6 to 7 pieces).

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a medium frying pan (not nonstick) over medium-low heat until shimmering. Add the plantains to the pan, arranging them in a circular pattern. Cook until the edges turn brown, about 3 minute. Flip the pieces, beginning with the first plantain you added to the pan, and cook until browned on the second side. Turn the plantains onto a cut side and cook until browned, then flip and brown on the other cut side.

  3. Transfer the plantains to a paper towel-lined plate. Let cool and blot off any remaining oil before serving.

Make the quick smokey black beans:

  1. Coarsely chop the leaves and tender stems of a few fresh cilantro sprigs until you have 2 tablespoons.

  2. Drain and rinse 1 can black beans. Place in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until warmed through, about 1 minute. Add the cilantro, 2 teaspoons paprika, and 1 teaspoon garlic powder. Stir to combine. Taste and season with salt as needed.

To assemble:

  1. Serve the jerk chicken in a wide, shallow bowl or plate over cooked brown rice with the plantains and beans and top as desired. Sprinkle with the scallions or cilantro if using. Squeeze 1 lime quarter over each serving of chicken before serving.

Recipe Notes

Stovetop cooking: Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Remove 2 pieces of chicken from the bag and shake off any excess marinade. Place the chicken skin-side down in the pan, spacing the pieces at least 1-inch apart. Cook, flipping halfway through, until cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers at least 165ºF, 25 to 30 minutes total (the skin will look blackened). Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb the excess oil. Repeat cooking the remaining 2 pieces of chicken.

Protein options:

For an even quicker cook time, cut 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts onto 1-inch cubes. Marinate as instructed, then cook in a cast iron skillet for 10 to 15 minutes, or until cooked through.

Make this meatless by swapping the chicken for 1 (about 14-ounce) box extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes. Do not marinate longer than 30 minutes.

Make ahead: The marinade can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated in the zip top bag.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.