In March, we hosted a special dinner for visiting Afro-Cuban songstress Bobi Cespédes. Our tiny restaurant was packed, and even diners who didn’t go to her performance enjoyed the Cuban-style menu offerings that evening. Here is the marinade Chef Alphonsine used for one of the entrées that night. She served this flavorful chicken with roasted yams and wilted collard greens.
With summer coming up and grills coming out, this marinade will easily become a favorite warm-weather preparation, even so far away from the Caribbean.
Jerk Chicken Marinade
Serves 6 – 8
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup lime juice
4 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons ground allspice
8 cloves garlic
8 habañero chiles, stemmed
8 scallions, roughly chopped
2 shallots, roughly chopped
1 one-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 small Cornish game hens (18 oz each), split in half
1. Combine the orange juice, oil, lime juice, sugar, vinegar, thyme, soy sauce, allspice, garlic, chiles, scallions, shallots, ginger, and salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Place game hens in a 9" x 13" baking dish and pour marinade over them; massage marinade into meat, making sure to push it under the skin. Cover game hens with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
2. Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium-high. Alternatively, heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Place game hens on grill over direct heat and cook, turning occasionally, until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer game hens to indirect heat, or reduce heat to medium-low, and continue cooking, turning occasionally, until cooked through, about 45 minutes. To serve, transfer game hens to a plate.
Adapted from a recipe published in Saveur Magazine, Issue #130