Creole Jerk Chicken and Tropical Salsa with Peas and Grits
Prep time
Cook time
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Serves: 6
Tropical Salsa
  • 1 ripe papaya, seeded with pulp removed and diced
  • 1 ripe mango, seeded with pulp removed and diced
  • ½ cup diced fresh pineapple
  • ½ cup finely diced cucumber
  • ½ cup finely diced red onion
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and finely diced
  • 4 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Peas and Grits
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ cup finely diced white onion
  • ½ cup diced tasso or smoked ham
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup coarse stone-ground white grits
  • 1 cup cooked black-eyed peas
  • ½ cup flavoring and browning sauce, such as Savoie's or Kitchen Bouquet, as needed
  • Kosher salt and white pepper
  • 1 cup half and half
Creole Jerk Chicken
  • 2 tablespoons all spice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, stems removed or Scotch Bonnets
  • 2 adobo chile peppers with 2 tablespoons of sauce from the can
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons sugarcane molasses
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tablespoon ground jalapeno powder
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • ¼ cup vinegar-based barbecue sauce
  • 1 teaspoon annotto coloring and seasoning powder, such as Bijol
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 whole spatchcocked chickens, neck and giblets removed
Tropical Salsa
  1. In a large glass mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir together, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.
Peas and Grits
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the onions and tasso. Saute until the onions are translucent. Add the stock, bring to a boil and add the grits. Stir the pot until it comes back to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer and cover. Stir frequently until all the stock is absorbed and the grits are done, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the cooked peas and move the pot off the burner.
  2. With a spoon, add a little of the browning sauce and stir. Continue adding a little of the darkening liquid until you achieve a perfect mahogany brown color. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pot until serving time.
  3. When you are ready to serve the grits, move the pot back to a low burner and reheat. By this time, the grits may have stiffened up. To regain a creamy (not runny) consistency add a little bit of the half and half as it heats through. Once hot and creamy, remove from the heat and cover the pot.
Creole Jerk Chicken
  1. In the container of a blender, place all the marinade ingredients and puree on high until smooth. Reserve ½ cup of the marinade for a sauce to serve on the side.
  2. Place each chicken in a large plastic freezer bag and pour the marinade into the bags. Close the two bags tightly and press each bag with your hand until both of the chickens are evenly coated with the marinade. Place in the refrigerator and marinate for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight.
  3. Before cooking, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Light the hardwood charcoal of an open barbecue pit and let the coals burn down to a medium-high heat. Spread the coals evenly so that the temperature is consistent across the grill.
  4. Remove the chicken from the bags and place skin-side down on the grill. To press it down against the grill grates, place a heavy cast-iron skillet or pot on top of each whole chicken. Cook the chickens without turning for 30 minutes. Have a spray bottle of water on hand to prevent flare ups. Your goal is to maintain a consistent temperature to cook the chicken through without burning. After 30 minutes on one side, turn and cook for 15 minutes on the other side.
  5. The key is to cook the chicken just until the thickest part, usually the thigh, is done. To check for doneness insert your instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken (without touching the bone) and see if it registers at least 165ºF. If done, remove to a platter, cover and keep warm.
  6. Cut the chickens into quarters and serve with the tropical salsa along with the peas and grits. This dish is perfect paired with my favorite, ice-cold Turks Head beer.
Spatchcocking (or butterflying) a whole chicken is fairly simple with a great video tutorial available here. Some cooks like to protect the wing tips from burning, but in this rustic recipe the burnt edges add authenticity. Instead of a regular brick I use a heavier landscape paver that I bought at Home Depot for less than $2. Both the jerk marinade and the salsa should be made the day before so the ingredients have time to reach maximum flavor. Let the chicken soak in the marinade overnight. The dry ingredients of this marinade (before the peppers, chiles and wet ingredients) make an awesome, island-inspired dry rub for grilling pork or seafood. A charcoal pit is the ideal cooking method, but if you use your gas grill be sure to add some wood chips to your smoker box to get that authentic jerk flavor.
Recipe by Acadiana Table at