We grill year 'round at Bahama Breeze, but spring and summer are ideal seasons for grilling at home and trying some Caribbean style cooking ideas. That means you have to know about jerk cooking. The chefs at Bahama Breeze have put together some helpful tips so you can get going on some jerk creations of your own.
Back in the 17th century, the Cormantee hunters who inhabited Jamaica were the first to use jerk seasoning to preserve meats that were then smoked over pimento wood. Today, it's become a favorite way to add a zesty taste of the islands to meats and seafood
The distinctive jerk spice blend and slow grilling method give meats and seafood a unique spicy-sweet taste while leaving meat tender and tasty.
The term jerk is most likely derived from the Spanish word charqui: a word used for dried meat. Another possible origin is that it describes the poking or jerking of meat with a sharp object to create holes where spices are inserted.
The four key ingredients in jerk cooking are Scotch bonnet peppers, allspice berries, scallions and thyme.
Scotch Bonnet Peppers
Scotch bonnet peppers are a variety of the habaneronero pepper. To capture true jerk flavor, use imported Jamaican Scotch bonnet.
Allspice is the berry of the evergreen pimento. The outer layer of the berry has the most flavor. Using the actual berries provides a better taste than the ground powder.
Fresh scallions, both the top and bottom, should be finely sliced.
Dried, Ground Thyme
Dried, ground thyme can be easily found in grocery stores. Fresh thyme works great too.
Relax. Enjoying the slow process of jerk cooking is the real secret of great jerk!
The longer meat marinates in the seasonings, the more robust the flavor. Bahama Breeze's jerk chicken is marinated for 24 hours. Patience, the heart and soul of jerk cooking.
Slowly grilling meat over a low fire
When cooking at home, meat can be roasted in a low-temperature oven for one to two hours, and then finished on the grill.
Adding wood chips to your grill's fire enhances the flavor. Pimento (allspice) wood boosts authentic jerk flavor. So do apple wood, mesquite or hickory chips. Soak the chips in water so they don't burn immediately. Allowing the smoke from the chips to permeate the meat will create an authentic jerk flavor.