There will probably be loads of Jamaicans and West Indians kissing their teeth while reading this and saying things like “Dat kyan right” or “dis na bloodclaat Jerk”, because Jerk is not a recipe its a state of mind, a feeling from deep within the soul, it is the epitomy of soul food and even by sticking to a recipe you are not giving the Jerk the respek’ due.
So heres some guidlines for the Jerk beginner, feel free to add or subtract depending on your mood and feelings and by all means this is not limited to Chicken or Pork, you can use fish, prawns, goat, beef, sausage or even if you are a real saddo tofu….
1 scotch bonnet chilli
3 cloves of garlic
1 thumb size piece of ginger
1/2 tsp salt flakes
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground all spice
1 tsp ground cloves
1/4 nutmeg, grated
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp malt vinegar
2 tbsp molasses or dark unrefined sugar
1 chicken or 1 kilo pork belly (or whatever you decide to “jerk”)
2 tbsp groundnut oil
In a pestle and mortar (or if your lazy like me use a spice blender) put the garlic, chilli, ginger, salt, thyme, spices and grind to a paste, then add the vinegar, oil and sugar and a few tbsp water until all combined and a smooth creamy paste.
Score the chicken (or whatever your using so as the paste penetrates deep into the meat) then put into a tupperware container or ziplock bag or a dish covered in cling film and allow to marinate – turning occasionaly for at least 4 hours – preferably overnight.
Cook on a barbeque preferably one with a lid, and for added flavour put some all spice leaves or bay leaves or thyme or all of the above on to the charcoal to create an aromatic smoke (there are pre made smoking chips you can get)