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Jamaican Jerk Pork

Monday, 26 May 2008


The "jerk" in jerk pork is a spice mixture that was used to preserve meat before refrigeration. It was developed by the Awarak Indians, and later refined in Jamaica by runaway slaves known as Maroons. These days, the spices are used to season meats for barbecue and to tenderize rather than to preserve. An inexpensive smoker or a covered grill can be substituted for the traditional jerk pit, and is a lot easier than digging a pit in your yard. Note: This recipe required advance preparation.


At a glance
Chile peppers
Cooking Method
Heat Level
Scotch Bonnet
Main Course
  • 3 to 4 Scotch bonnet chiles, stems and seeds removed, chopped

  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions, including some of the greens

  • 3 tablespoons crushed allspice (piemento) berries, or substitute 2 teaspoons ground

  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, fresh preferred

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 3 to 4-pound pork butt or loin roast


To make the jerk paste, either pound the ingredients together using a mortar and pestle or place them in a blender or food processor adding the oil to make a paste.


Place the roast, fat side down in a non-reactive pan. Make slashes in the pork about 1½ to 2-inches apart and almost through the roast. Rub the jerk over the meat, making sure to get it throughly into the slashes. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Remove the pork and bring it to room temperature.

Prepare either the grill or smoker. If using a grill, be sure to use a pan under the pork to catch the drippings. Smoke the pork for about 2 to 3 hours, turning the roast every 30 minutes to insure even browning. Cook until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 150 degrees.

Variations: Substitute lamb chops, chicken, or rib steaks for the pork.



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