Grilled Jerk Chicken Sandwich with Guava Barbecue Sauce and Kale Slaw by Chef Simone Byron
If you hate simple, elegant crowd-pleaser dishes bursting with taste, this probably isn't the recipe for you. While jerk chicken is known for its savory, sour flavor palate, this nutritious yet delicious spin comes to us from our friend Chef Simone Byron of Atlanta, Georgia. Thanks to its division of steps, you can start whipping this up as early as two weeks in advance! With a few simple steps prepared early, you can go from preheating the grill to bellies filled in 20 minutes flat. For added punch, why not try a homemade BBQ sauce as a base?
SERVES 4-6 people PREP 1 hr 15 mins COOK 25 mins READY IN 1 hr 40 mins
- 4-6 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless (4 oz)
- 3 Tbsp mild jerk marinade
- ½ cup orange juice
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 lime, juiced
- 18 oz bottle hickory barbeque sauce
- 1 can guava juice concentrate
- 2 Tbsp agave
- Pinch of red chili flakes
- Sea salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- 1 lb kale, shredded or cut
- ½ red onion (small), thinly sliced
- ½ cup carrot, shredded
- 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
- ¼ tsp sugar
- ½ lime, juiced
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- Mixing Bowl
For the jerk chicken marinade:
For the easy guava BBQ sauce:
For the kale slaw:
Other Items You'll Need:
- First up, decide your game plan. Sure, you can create this simple yet delicious recipe all at once — start at step three for that — but those of you who enjoy early groundwork will be happy to hear you can knock out simple steps well in advance. You could prepare the sauce 2 weeks early, the marinating chicken 1 day early, and the kale slaw 1 hour early.
- Spoiler alert — if you’re the “How about I don’t burn 20 minutes of party hosting time over a saucepan” type, begin with the easy guava BBQ sauce (if not, feel free to do this step anytime before preheating the grill). In a saucepan, mix together the hickory BBQ sauce base, can of guava juice concentrate, agave, red chili flakes, and sea salt and black pepper. Simmer on low until the sauce is heated throughout; this should take approximately 10–15 minutes. Once done, turn off the heat, allow to cool, then set aside. Alternatively, store refrigerated for up to 14 days.
- Once you’re ready to continue, combine all jerk chicken marinade ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until mixed. Add the chicken breasts; work the marinade into the chicken. We really want that flavor to penetrate as deeply as possible.
- Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour — for even tastier chicken, consider overnight marinating instead. For best results, store covered and press cellophane wrap down to surface level to push out excess air.
- While the chicken is marinating (or, up to 1 hour prior to serving), you’ll want to whip up the kale slaw. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the mayo, lime juice, sugar, and mustard. Once thoroughly mixed, add kale, carrots, and red onion and mix together until all vegetables are evenly coated.
- Before touching your grill, remove the marinated chicken and allow it to return to room temperature. If you haven’t whipped up the guava BBQ sauce yet, here’s a great time to briefly return to step two. (If it’s been in cold storage, set it aside and allow it to return to room temperature. This will make the grill’s job a little easier. Speaking of...)
- As the chicken warms, preheat your grill to 375 degrees. If you haven’t already made the kale slaw from two steps ago, now’s a great time to make it.
- Once preheated, grill your chicken for 5–7 on both sides, until it reaches about 160 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s a little below our mark: after you pull the breasts, they will continue cooking — reaching the target temperature of 165 degrees.
- Lay out bottom buns; when the jerk chicken is finished grilling, set the breasts aside to rest over them. Brush the chicken breasts with guava BBQ sauce. After about 5–10 minutes, top the jerk chicken with as much kale slaw as desired, then close with the top buns. Serve and enjoy!
Preparing the Grilled Jerk Chicken Sandwiches Early
Hello, recipe skim-readers! If you want to know at a glance how to prepare stages of this recipe in advance, here’s what you need to know:
You can prepare the guava BBQ sauce from step 2 up to 2 weeks early.
For best results, prepare the chicken marinade from steps 3–4 and allow it to marinade overnight prior to serving. An hour in advance is a tasty compromise, but the best flavors penetrate in about 6–8 hours. After 24 hours, you’re courting disaster: the marinade acids will swiftly begin breaking down muscle fibers, which results in spongy chicken.
The kale slaw from step 5 can be done up to an hour early. Past that point, the structural integrity of the kale will begin to fall apart. In other terms? Mush. Do you want mushy kale? Nobody wants mushy kale!