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November 4, 2015

Grandma Elsie’s Caribbean Jerk Chicken

Every year at Thanksgiving we take a moment to share our favorite holiday tradition and the story of Elsie Edelstein, who I adopted as my grandmother. If you’ve followed us in years past, you might be aware of Elsie and her world-famous Pumpkin Chiffon Pie recipe. But, she’s also known for more than just that. Here we share with you another recipe made with her famous spices: Caribbean Jerk Chicken. We hope you enjoy this zesty and fun Thanksgiving spin on the classic dish as much as we do. And stay tuned, there will be a few more coming – including the recipe for her mouth-watering Pumpkin Chiffon Pie.


Time: 1 hour 15 minutes plus at least 6 hours marinating
Serves Six



  • 2 tablespoons allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 small onion, chopped 
  • 2 Scotch bonnet or habanero chilies, halved, stems removed (*Caution: These peppers are very hot, use to taste)
  • 6 scallions, roughly chopped 
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns 
  • 3 tablespoons Grandma Elsie’s cinnamon-sugar mix

or, if you don’t have Grandma Elsie’s spices, you’ll need:

2 tablespoons + 2 3/4 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch powdered ginger
pinch nutmeg
pinch salt

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon rum

  • 1 tablespoon malt vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, thickly sliced 
  • Juice of two large limes (about 4 tablespoons)
  • 6 large chicken legs (skin-on, leg and thigh attached)


  • Put allspice, thyme, garlic, onion, chilies, scallions, peppercorns, Grandma Elsie’s (or sugar, cinnamon, powdered ginger, nutmeg, salt) plus soy sauce, olive oil, rum, malt vinegar, salt, fresh ginger and lime juice in a blender or food processor and puree into a marinade.
  • Put chicken and marinade into two sealable plastic bags, pressing out excess air, then turn bags over several times to distribute marinade. Put bags of chicken in a shallow pan and marinate in refrigerator for at least six hours, preferably overnight, turning once or twice.
  • Cook on outdoor grill, turning frequently, until internal temp reaches 160 and outside is slightly charred.
  • Alternatively, put chicken in a baking dish, add seasoning paste and coat chicken well, using a spoon. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator, for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, letting chicken come to room temperature. Bake in oven at 350 degrees uncovered for one hour, until internal temp reaches 160 degrees. Then put dish under broiler for a couple of minutes to char chicken slightly.

A special thanks to Brad Whitworth and Peg Champion from Grandma Elsie’s West Coast Test Kitchen for sharing this recipe with us.

-David Grossman

Want to learn more about The Grossman Group's Thanksgiving tradition?  Click on the image below:

Grandma Elsie Thanksgiving 2015


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