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Food: Jerk pork fires up the grill (recipe)

Angela Shelf Medearis
KITCHEN DIVA

JERK PORK

Jerk marinades typically use Scotch bonnet peppers, one of the hottest peppers in the world. Remember to always wear gloves when preparing fresh peppers. It’s best to remove the stems and seeds with your gloved fingers or paring knife. Removing the seeds doesn’t affect the flavor, but greatly decreases the heat. Afterward, always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and cold water and clean any utensils or surfaces you have used.

INGREDIENTS:

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup distilled white vinegar

4 green onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 to 5 Scotch Bonnet peppers, seeded and minced, to taste

3 bay leaves

3 peppercorns

1 tablespoon dried ground cinnamon

3 to 4 whole allspice berries, lightly crushed

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 pounds pork chops, about 1 inch thick

DIRECTIONS:

1. Combine oil and vinegar in a small bowl. Stir in green onions, garlic, peppers, bay leaves, peppercorns, cinnamon, allspice, pepper and nutmeg.

2. Trim any excess fat from pork chops. Place pork chops in a re-sealable plastic bag. Pour spice mixture over them, coating each chop well. Place bag of pork chops in a baking pan and refrigerate to marinate up to 24 hours, turning once or twice every four hours.

3. Allow chops to come to room temperature before grilling. Heat grill until coals are somewhat white with ash; the flame should be low. Place chops on grill and cover with lid. Grill 5 to 10 minutes per side, until the chops are no longer pink in center. Serves 4 to 6.

Caribbean dishes reflect the influence of a wide variety of cultures and cuisines, including British, Dutch, French, Spanish, East Indian, West African, Portuguese and Chinese. The cooking technique that made Jamaica famous is the spicy jerk marinade that’s used for both meats and vegetables. The name is derived from the way the meat is poked or “jerked” with a sharp object to create the holes where spices are inserted.

Jerk cooking dates back to the Carib-Arawak Indians who inhabited Jamaica in the 1600s. After capturing an animal and thoroughly cleaning it, the carcass was “jerked” and the resulting holes were stuffed with spices. Hot peppers and herbs were plentiful on the islands and were used as a preservative before refrigeration was available. The spices also acted as a marinade and a way to tenderize tough cuts of wild game.

To cook the jerked meat, the Indians dug a deep pit and lined it with stones. The pit was filled with green pimento wood, which when burned would smoke heavily and add to the flavor. The holes in the meat also allowed heat to escape without loss of moisture.

Marinades based on hot peppers and herb combinations were created by the Indians and the West African Cormantee to flavor and preserve a variety of meats. Jerk marinade has four main ingredients: Scotch bonnet peppers, whole allspice berries, scallions (also called green onions or spring onions) and thyme. For best results, the meat should marinate in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours.

After marinating, the meat should slowly be smoked over a low fire. Using pimento (allspice), apple, mesquite or hickory wood chips provides an intense smoke that will permeate the meat and create an authentic jerk flavor. The wood chips should be soaked in water for at least 30 minutes before placing them on the coals. This slow-smoking method also makes the meat moist and tender.

Jerk marinades are a wonderful way to add spice and a touch of the Caribbean to your barbeque menu. This recipe for Jerk Pork uses the traditional marinade recipe; however, other spices can be incorporated to create your own variation.

Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her website is http://www.divapro.com. To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.


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