A few weeks ago, hubby and I had a Groupon for a Carribean restaurant in a neighboring town. I had never had jerk anything, but he had. Having grown up in the Toronto area, where there is a huge population of West Indian immigrants, he’s had some good stuff. So, using our coupon, we tried jerk pork, jerk chicken and West Indian curry (I’m going to try making that sometime soon.) We decided we both loved the jerk flavor and heat, but we were not happy with anything about the restaurant or owner/operator/waitress, or the fact that when we ordered the meat patties, what my hubby says is a Caribbean staple, we were told the order hadn’t come in from Calgary yet. This gave us pause about how fresh and homemade the food would be. So, of course, I eat something tasty out and don’t want to go out there again, I have to go home and try to find the perfect recipe.
I will admit that I’ve made this twice now, because the first time wasn’t quite perfect. The first time I could not find scotch bonnet peppers in our local grocery store, so I wound up buying Serrano. I don’t know anything about peppers, or didn’t till this mistake and went and found the Scoville Scale that told me all about the hot pepper hotness. (click on chart to see what I learned. Chart found at: georgechristidis.com) Now I know I might as well have bought jalapenos, which I’ve used before, but I’ve always been to terrified to try anything hotter than that. Turns out Serrano are about the same place on that scale as jalapenos. So, the second time I made it, I bought some Thai peppers, because I still couldn’t find any scotch bonnets and they are pretty high on the scale of hotness. The recipe calls for 2 scotch bonnets, so I used 3 Thai.
Also, the first time around, besides there being almost no spicy heat, there was way too much cinnamon. It was overwhelming. So, this is my adjusted second-time around recipe. The original recipe that is for jerk chicken is found at: http://www.simplyrecipes.com. It called for salt and pepper. I left that out. I don’t put much salt in anything I cook because of hubby’s slightly high blood pressure, and my health issues. And I found really no reason to add black pepper when it has very spicy red peppers.
- 1/2 cup malt vinegar (or white vinegar)
- 2 Scotch bonnet peppers (or habaneros), with seeds, chopped. ( I used 3 red Thai peppers)
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 4 green onion tops, chopped
- 1 Tbsp dried thyme or 2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons ginger paste
- 2 Tblsp Ideal Brown (xylotol brown sugar) – The recipe called for 2 Tblsp molasses, which I don’t like and don’t have in my house.
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 lb pork or chicken, skin and fat removed as well as possible
In my Ninja 16 oz smoothie cup, (a food processor or blender would do just as well) I put in the vinegar, peppers (stems removed but seeds left in), the onion (quartered) and green onion tops. I zapped it a few times so it was a chunky smoothie. The first time I think I over-blended. I’m not sure it matters, but I left it chunkier the second time. After it was blended, I dumped it into a mixing bowl. Be careful here because those hot peppers will burn your skin. Make sure not to get it in your eyes, either!
To the mixture, add everything else but the meat, and mix with a spoon.
I made shallow slices in the flesh of the trimmed pork chops so the flavor will soak in, and put them in a Ziploc freezer bag then poured the marinade over the meat. Seal bag with air in it, and mix it around so the marinade covers the meat well. Then open the bag, squeeze out as much air as possible and re-seal. I let this marinade overnight so all the flavors soak in well.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
When I’m ready to bake it, I line a jelly roll pan with thick tinfoil (easier cleanup) and then place cookie cooling racks on it so that the meat will sit up above the pan so heat flows all the way around it to cook evenly and not sit in moisture. Spray the metal racks with non-stick spray. I wear a rubber glove on one hand – the hand I’ll be handling the meat with – so I won’t get any peppers on my skin. Lay the meat out on the racks, not touching.
The 1/2 inch thick pork chops takes only about 20 min on 1st side. Then I flipped it over and put it under the broiler to get it just slightly charred so it looks right – about 10 min.
The original recipe says to put the rest of the marinade in a small pot and bring it up to a low boil for 10 minutes (because it had pork in it, so it has to be well heated) and then serve it as a gravy. I did this, but only hubby used it. We actually decided that sometime next week I’ll mix it in with some ground beef and have some spicy Caribbean tacos.
The spice in the meat was hot, but not so hot it hid the flavors, which were fantastic. I served the jerk with some lemon and lime slices. It goes really well on both the meat and the black beans and rice (from a package). I can’t wait to try some of the other brands of rice/bean combos that Vigo has.