COOKING WITH CHEF SIAN: Jerk, It’s a Jamaican Thing

In recent years Jerk, an authentic Jamaican process of preparing meats, has become so popular it seems that there is a Jerk Festival in some corner of the world every weekend.  As a result, if you are not a Jamaican of a certain age it may be hard to tell the real stuff from the imitation. Contrary to popular belief, authentic Jamaican jerk is so much more than a seasoning made with hot pepper blended with herbs and spices.

To make authentic jerk seasoning; dried (pimento) allspice berries are blended with Scotch bonnets pepper, fresh garlic, onion and thyme. Other spices are sometimes added to this concoction. The marinade is then applied to chicken, pork or other meats and left to work its magic for a few hours. After marinating; the meat is grilled over a pimento wood or coal fire. Some cooks smoke the meat before grilling.  Keep reading for my Jerk Marinade Recipe.

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Derived from the Spanish word charqui; Jamaicans use the word jerk  to describe the process of spicing, smoking and grilling meats over a pimento wood or coal fire.To make authentic jerk seasoning; dried allspice(pimento) berries are blended with Scotch bonnets pepper, fresh garlic, onion, thyme and other spices are sometimes to create this flavorful aromatic marinade. The marinade is then applied to chicken, pork or other meats and left to work its magic for a few hours. After marinating; the meat is grilled or smoked over a pimento wood or coal fire.

Jerk Seasoning/ Marinade

10 minPrep Time

10 minTotal Time

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Ingredients

  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp salt, optional
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 lg. onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 TB sugar
  • ½ Scotch Bonnet pepper, optional
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 TB allspice berries, 2 tsp ground
  • ¼ C. oil
  • ¼ C. vinegar
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Instructions

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until it becomes a thick paste. Makes enough for upto 10 pounds of meat

Cuisine: Jamaican | Recipe Type: Sauces & Marinades
7.6.2
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https://sianscooking.com/jerk-jamaican-thing
blended-jerk-seasoning

Today, there are more versions of jerk seasoning than there are cooks in the Caribbean. Very few of these seasonings, including some from Jamaica will produce authentic Jerk flavor. Over the years, I have tried more than a few varieties, dry and wet, and few comes close to the real deal. I can recommend the following;

Walkerswood– My #1 choice for authentic Jamaican jerk flavor. Whether in the over or on the grill this is my go to seasoning.

Jamaican Country Style – A close second, JCS is fairly new on the market so you may not find this brand as easily as Walkerswood or Grace. If you do give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Boston – They’re pretty good but I have found them to be inconsistent with the spices.

Chef Cunny’s Real Jamaican Jerk – A new addition to the marketplace, I was torn about rating this mix higher.  All the character of a good jerk seasoning are present but the allspice flavor is weak. Use an extra ½ tsp of ground allspice to boost it up. The added hint of smoke is a bonus for cooks who don’t have an outdoor grill at hand.

Skip dry jerk seasonings if you can. If you must use one Island Spice and Grace (yes, the dry one is better than the wet one) are good choices.If you’re not able to find jerk seasoning where you live a basic recipe is below.

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3 thoughts on “COOKING WITH CHEF SIAN: Jerk, It’s a Jamaican Thing

  1. It's says 2 tsp ground... ground what?
    1. Allspice. 2 tsp ground = 2 TB whole
  2. […] scallion and allspice was apparent. All the things you’d expect to taste in good authentic Jamaican Jerk.  Still there was something missing. I figured I didn’t season it so I gave the […]

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