Grilled Caribbean Chicken

Caribbean Chicken on Denise's fancy grill
Caribbean Chicken on Denise’s fancy grill

I’m hoping this is the last post on my slow-as-tortoises laptop; new one should ship this week!

I’m not sure why this chicken is “Caribbean,” exactly. The lime juice, maybe? What I can tell you is that this is an “old” family recipe (and by “old,” I mean my mother learned it sometime in the early-mid 1980s) and it’s a family classic. And that’s what it is called. This chicken tastes like summer to me, as we always had it in the summer. It should really be grilled for the best flavor, but be aware that a marinade with olive oil in it means FLAMES, so you’ll need to be on top of putting those out (or know that you’ll have some burned chicken skin). You could also broil it, I assume, but I have never tried this. Frankly, I think the flames are part of the fun, but I’ve been told I’m a little weird.

DON’T skip the soaking step. It seems like you could, with little change, as it’s not very long, but don’t. Somehow, this keeps the chicken incredibly moist and tasty.

Grilled Caribbean Chicken
Grilled Caribbean Chicken

Grilled Caribbean Chicken

  • 1 to 1 1/4 lbs. chicken, BONE-IN, SKIN-ON. My favorite is chicken breasts, but drumsticks are also really good. Use what you like.
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • cold water to cover
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar (cider vinegar will also work in a pinch)
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped
  • 2-4 teaspoons salt (depends on how salty you like it — I’ve gone down to the low end and add a bit more at eating if I want it)
  • 2 teaspoons dry oregano, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, preferably freshly ground

Place the chicken in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Add the lime juice and agitate the chicken a little to make sure the water’s getting in between all of the pieces. Let sit 15-30 minutes.

Make the marinade by combining everything else — olive oil through pepper — and stirring or whisking well. Drain the chicken well and then brush or pour on about half the marinade.

Start the grill. You want medium to medium high heat, if you have a gas grill with temperature settings. For charcoal, you want a “hot” side with a three-second hand (if you can hold your hand just above the cooking grate for three seconds, you are around 300-325ºF, about right for poultry) so when your coals are ready, push them slightly to one side.

When your grill is ready, place the chicken on the grill, skin side down (or just on, if it’s drumsticks). Be ready to put out flames (a water gun is fun) or move the chicken around a bit as the oil drips down. Cook about 5 minutes, skin down, and then base your back side and flip. After another 5 minutes, move the chicken to the indirect heat side of the grill for another 5 (drumsticks) to 15 (breasts) minutes to reach an internal temperature of 165ºF. Baste again at this time (though that should be enough). Check every 5 minutes. I’d love to give you an exact grill time, but I can’t — grills vary too much.

Once your meat is done, let it rest a few minutes before cutting. It should be plenty juicy, and if you haven’t burned the skin, it should be wonderfully crispy and tasty. Actually, if you have burned the skin a bit (see the chicken breasts in the grill photo), it still tastes pretty good.

Serve with grilled veggies or just a salad.

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