Jamaican jerk pork or chicken is sort of the island equivalent of barbeque. Traditionally, it is cooked over a wood fire on makeshift ovens made of steel drums cut lengthwise.
Nowadays, “jerk” refers to the combination of seasonings used to flavor the meat prior to cooking, mostly allspice, thyme, cinnamon and black pepper. Scotch bonnet peppers, among the hottest of all peppers, also are traditionally used, but many pre-mixed dry rubs available for purchase either skip or tone down this ingredient. The seasoning mix I used was not spicy hot at all.
While the origin of the term “jerk” is vague, it most likely came from the Spanish conquisatdors, who ate “charqui”, or dried smoked meats, during their long journey across the Atlantic. The term “jerky” also comes from this word.
Although jerk meats normally are cooked over an open wood flame like barbeque, most Americans wouldn’t associate jerk flavor with the barbeque you find on the continent. For one, Jamaican jerk seasoning isn’t sweet, it’s savory. Plus it lacks the vinegary tartness of traditional BBQ.
But it is still delicious and has been growing in popularity in recent years, perhaps because of travellers who tried it while vacationing in the Carribean were anxious to spread word of this interesting and delicious dish.
In this version, the meat isn’t even grilled. Instead, it’s cooked all day in the crock pot. But the flavor of the jerk seasoning is still at the forefront and I love the way slow-cooked meats fill the whole house with a tantalizing aroma, making me look forward to dinner all day.
Another thing I liked is that pork shoulder is one of the least expensive cuts you can buy. I bought a 7 lb bone-in shoulder and cleaned it myself and it was only $1.19/lb! Half went in the freezer for another time.
I served this with oven baked sweet potato fries, which are the easiest thing in the world to make. They are one of our favorites!
Jamaican Jerk Pork Sandwiches
2-3 lb boneless pork shoulder
1 medium white onion, julienned
3 TBS Jamaican jerk seasoning
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup water
1 can Mexican corn (corn with red pepper)
2 TBS salsa
1 cup shredded green leaf lettuce
Fat free sour cream (on the side)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (one the side)
8 whole wheat pitas
1. Spray crock pot with cooking spray. Trim pork of excess fat and cut into 2 inch cubes. Place pork and onion in crock pot, sprinkle with jerk seasoning, cover with chili sauce and water and stir.
2. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
3. Use two forks to pull pork apart. It will shred easily. Meanwhile, drain corn and combine with salsa in a small bowl.
4. To assemble sandwich, place a good amount of the pork in a pita, add corn relish, top with lettuce and garnish with cilantro and sour cream.
Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into sticks
2 TBS EVOO
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp onion powder
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss until sweet potatoes are evenly coated. Pour out onto a baking sheet and bake at 375F for 45 minutes. Super delicious!
Do you make any recipes with the flavors of the Carribean? Share your ideas in the comments section below. And thanks for looking at my blog!