Jerk cooking, the celebrated flavor of Jamaica, spicy hot, mildly smoky, and a little sweet began to be used in the 16th century as a way to protect the food supply. The term comes from the Quechua word “charqui” meaning dried meat.
After conquering the Inca Empire, the Spaniards incorporated the word into the Spanish language to refer to meat dried for preservation. Like all good inventions, necessity was the mother of jerk seasoning. Runaway slaves called Maroons lived high in the mountains of Portland to evade their would be captors. They hunted far and wide for wild pigs, which sometimes spoiled before they got them home. So the hunters gathered local spices, dug holes in the earth, burned
indigenous pimento wood, and smoked the pork as soon as they caught it.
A few hundred years later, jerk became popular street food. Maroons would bring it down from the hills to sell it in the towns. Jerk seasoning principally relies upon two items: allspice – Jamaican pimento and Scotch bonnet peppers – among the hottest peppers on the Scoville scale. Other ingrediants include cloves, cinnamon, scallions, nutmeg, thyme, garlic, mixing them together to form a marinade used to rub on the meat or vegetables.
Today jerk is a cuisine-style native to Jamaica and recognized around the world. Meats like chicken, fish, beef, pork, sausage and even vegetables are dry-rubbed with a scorching spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice.
Jerk chicken and shrimp with veggies and coconut rice is one of my favorite dishes of all time. Experiment with the Jerk seasoning and try it on almost everything.
Recommended: the authentic version and worth the time it takes (spicy), also scroll down for a faster more time efficient way (mild spice).
1 bunch fresh thyme, leaves only
2 cinnamon sticks, roughly crushed
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
2 tbsp black peppercorns, crushed
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3 tsp allspice, crushed
6 garlic cloves
4 Scotch Bonnet chillies, seeds removed
2 tsp chopped fresh ginger
2 limes, zest of 1 lime, juice of 2
140ml/¼ pint olive oil
Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend to make a smooth paste. Use the paste as a seasoning for chicken, pork or fish. It will keep for two weeks if covered and refrigerated.
This is a faster milder version.
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
2 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
In a small bowl, stir together the dried onion, thyme, allspice, ground black pepper, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and salt. Coat meat lightly with oil, then rub seasoning onto meat.
Your friend in health,
Adam aka Guru
(60 Day Challenge – Day 21)