You wouldn’t think so seeing my pasty white skin, but I grew up in the Caribbean and lived there until I turned 18. I’m from a tiny island in the French West Indies called Martinique and not a week goes by without me reminiscing about it. There is a lot I miss about living in the Caribbean; the absence of winter, a certain laissez-faire attitude to life, my ride-or-die friends and the food I grew up with. This Caribbean baked chicken recipe is a homage to the poulet boucané (smoked chicken) my parents would always buy on Saturdays on our way to the beach.
I don’t smoke my chicken or use an already smoked chicken but the flavors of the meat are similar thanks to the overnight marinade. And my oh my it is a flavorful chicken! The spices, limes, chilies, herbs and onions in the marinade are a fantastic tasty combo that will please your taste buds for sure. The marinade is not too hot and doesn’t overpower the meat but it makes this Caribbean baked chicken finger-licking good. Add crispy skin and tender juicy meat to the mix, and everyone’s mouth is watering, am I right?
POULET BOUCANÉ COPYCAT
This type of chicken is first marinated overnight, then smoked completely enclosed in a metal container (shaped like a tall trashcan) on a rack placed over charcoal, soaked bread and pieces of sugar cane. There are ways to reproduce this traditional method of cooking on a barbecue but I didn’t feel like trying them. To be fair it’s the middle of winter and I don’t have a barbecue anyway. So I turned the poulet boucané of my childhood into a very tasty Caribbean baked chicken and I regret nothing! Not having to build any smoking contraption sure makes it up for the lack of smoky flavor.
PREVENT YOUR CHICKEN FROM DRYING OUT
There’s nothing more disappointing than biting into what looks like a very promising chicken leg and ending up chewing a tough rubbery piece of meat. I hate dry meat so I don’t any chances with my Caribbean bake chicken! That’s why;
- the meat marinates overnight (the salt in the marinade breaks down muscle proteins),
- butter is smeared directly on the breast (to baste the white meat while cooking),
- the chicken is partly cooked under a foil tent (the steam has nowhere to escape and keeps the meat moist) and
- the chicken is left to rest for 20 min before carving (the juices will reabsorb into the meat and be redistributed throughout the bird).
If you want to avoid the hassle of roasting a whole bird, marinate your favorite chicken parts (thighs, wings, breasts,…) overnight and simply grill them on a bbq or in a skillet over medium heat until deep golden brown.
SAUCE CHIEN (DOG SAUCE)
➝ What’s a sauce chien? This condiment sounds just as weird in English as in French. But not to worry, you won’t be eating your pet for dinner! This sauce takes its name from the type of knives that are typically used to prepare this sauce. Couteaux chien (dog knives) are quality stainless steel knives engraved with the small drawing of a guard dog on the base of the blade. Every family in the French West Indies has a couteau chien and it’s a customary wedding gift. Couteaux chien are super handy to finely dice garlic, herbs and onions. Seeing as those are the main ingredients of this popular condiment, it’s easy to see how the knife gave its name to the sauce.
Every family also has its own sauce chien recipe and the components of the sauce always stir debates. Should tomatoes and chilies be included even if they’re not native to the island and weren’t originally used? It’s all a matter of taste to me! I prefer an all-green sauce chien, so no tomatoes for me, but I do love the heat brought by the chili. If you go to a barbecue in Martinique, you’re bound to see a big bowl of sauce chien being passed around. It’s drizzled on every grilled food (chicken, lobsters, crabs,…) and it is delicious!
LEFTOVER BAKED CHICKEN
My husband and I have found ourselves finishing the whole chicken in one sitting but I’m always happy when there are leftovers. This Caribbean baked chicken tastes amazing cold so it’s a great addition to any of your favorite salads. That’s what my protein-driven gym-going sport-lover husband would want you to do.
However, if you’re like me you’ll want to blitz the leftover chicken with 150g (5oz) of cream cheese, 1 tbsp of mayo, 1 crushed garlic clove and ½ green chili. Then grill some bread and join me in chicken spread heaven!
Are you looking for other Caribbean recipes? Here are some of my favorites:Print
Invite the sun to your table with this Caribbean baked chicken from the French West Indies! Marinating the chicken overnight in a mixture of spices, lime juice, chilies, herbs and onions, will give you the most tender and flavorful meat ever.
For the marinade:
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 green chilies, deseeded
- 5 spring onions, root ends trimmed then quartered
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 2 limes, zested and juiced
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 4 parsley sprigs
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- ⅓ tsp black pepper
- 1 chicken (mine was 1.7kg / 3.7lb but any weight is fine)
- 40g cubed butter (3 tbsp), at room temperature
For the sauce chien: (optional: to accompany the Caribbean baked chicken)
- 5 spring onions, root ends trimmed
- half a bunch of parsley, leaves only
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 green chili, deseeded
- 2 limes, juiced
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- ½ tsp ground allspice
For the Caribbean baked chicken:
- Place all the ingredients for the marinade (except for the chicken and butter) into a blender or food processor. Purée until smooth.
- Put the chicken into a tray or a deep plate. Thoroughly massage the outside of the chicken with this mixture. Put the chicken back in the fridge and leave it to marinate overnight uncovered.
- Remove the chicken from the fridge an hour before cooking. Brush off as much of the marinade as possible but don’t discard it, set it aside for now. Preheat your oven to 180°C (355°F) or 165°C (330°F) if you’re using a convection oven.
- Use your hand to gently prize the skin on top of the breasts away from the meat, working your way all the way up to the neck so you have a large pocket.
- Push most of the butter under the skin into the pocket and spread the remaining butter over the outside of the chicken. The melting butter will baste the breasts and prevent the white meat from drying out.
- Season the chicken generously and put it into a deep roasting breast-side down. Pour the marinade into a sieve placed over a bowl. Stuff the chicken with the paste left in the sieve but keep the liquid in the bowl for later on.
- Pour 75ml (⅓ cup) of boiling water into the base of the roasting tray and cover the tray with a double layer of foil. To calculate the cooking time, allow 1h per kilo (1h per 2.2 lb). For example, my 1.7kg / 3.7lb chicken would roughly take 1 hour and 40 minutes in total.
- Roast the chicken for half of the cooking time. Then remove the tray from the oven and discard the foil. Turn the chicken over and pour the rest of the marinade all over the breasts. Put the tray back in the oven and cook the chicken uncovered for the other half of the cooking time.
- To test whether the chicken is cooked, insert a knife where the thigh joins the breast. If the juice is pink instead of clear, put the chicken back in the oven and check for the color again every 10 min or so.
- When it’s cooked remove the chicken from the oven, place it on a cutting board and cover the chicken with foil (not too tightly) to rest for 20 min. Carve the chicken and serve with white rice and the sauce chien if desired.
For the sauce chien:
- Finely dice the spring onions, parsley, garlic cloves and chili. If you can’t be bothered, blitz everything for just a few seconds in a food processor (it shouldn’t turn into a paste, you should still spot pieces).
- Place in a serving bowl and stir in the lime juice, vegetable oil and allspice.
- Pour just enough boiling water to cover everything up (I used 60ml/ ¼ cup) and make the sauce ‘spoonable’. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Le the flavors infuse for 5 min and serve!
Caribbean baked chicken will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Serving Size: 3 big pieces
- Calories: 936
Keywords: baked chicken, roast chicken, caribbean chicken, overnight marinated chicken