The spirit of Jamaica's popular jerk seasoning comes through in these fantastic recipes for chicken, pork, fish and vegetables.
Food & Wine
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Jamaican-Style Jerk Spareribs
On Jamaica's Boston Beach, grill masters slowly cook a side of jerk pork for hours, until the skin is crispy and the meat is moist and flecked with succulent bits of fat. This version cuts back on some of the fat before grilling by parboiling the ribs. The spareribs needs to marinate overnight, so plan accordingly.
At Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, Chris Lilly uses a cut called picnic shoulder for his spiced jerk pork, cooking it over low heat for eight hours. To make it easier for the home cook, rub a vibrant jerk paste on chops before a quick 20 minutes on the grill gives them an insanely good, peppery heat.
Pork tenderloin is leaner than skin-on chicken and delicious in the spicy, smoky recipe here. Capsaicin, the chemical that makes chiles taste hot, can help boost metabolism; for extra fire, add the chile seeds to the marinade.
The spirit of Jamaica's popular jerk sauce comes through in this superspicy, fragrant grilled chicken. To punch up the flavor even more, let the marinade sit for an additional 24 hours before adding the meat. To lower the heat, swap out Scotch bonnet chiles (among the world's hottest) for jalapeños.
Bradford Thompson's jerk sauce is loosely based on his wife Kerry-Ann's excellent family recipe; the couple is hoping to bottle it and sell it in stores. The mix of fiery Scotch bonnet chiles, scallions and spices creates a complex, deep-flavored paste that's amazing on grilled chickenor game hens.
The Jamaican spice treatment called jerk isn't just for meat and chicken; it's great on fish too. Rub the spice paste on catfish fillets and broil for a crisp, spicy coating. Though the sesame seeds aren't traditional, they add a pleasant crunch and rich flavor.
Chef Steven Brown flavors his jerk-style chicken with a highly spiced, tangy marinade, but there’s something else that makes it so good: a serious dry-brining. “Season the daylights out of the chicken thighs with kosher salt,” advises Brown.
Jerk-Spiced Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower and Chickpeas
Jonathon Sawyer makes a fantastic jerk spice blend to sprinkle on a mix of chickpeas, cauliflower and brussels sprouts after they’ve been roasted. You’ll have some left over, but the blend is also great on shrimp and chicken.