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BE YOUR OWN ISLAND CHEF

JERK COOKING TIPS

BAHAMA BREEZE OFFERS TIPS FOR JERK COOKING

Perfect for Spring and Summertime Grilling, Caribbean Style
ORLANDO, Fla. – As Caribbean-inspired cuisine grows in popularity, people are being introduced to jerk cooking. Rick Crossland, executive chef for Bahama Breeze—the nation’s leading island-inspired casual dining restaurant company—offers history on jerk preparations and some easy cooking and grilling tips for at-home chefs.
WHAT IS JERK COOKING?

· Jerk began in the Caribbean in the 17th century as a method for preserving meats, and today has become a favorite way to add a zesty taste of the islands to meats and seafood.

· Jerk cooking uses distinctive spices to flavor slowly grilled meats and seafood. Food cooked with this method is tender and has a delicious spicy-sweet taste.

· The term jerk is most likely derived from the Spanish word charqui, a term 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 Cormantee hunters who inhabited Jamaica were the first to use jerk seasoning to preserve meats that were then smoked over pimento wood.

WHAT ARE THE
INGREDIENTS OF JERK?

· The four key ingredients in jerk cooking are Scotch bonnet peppers, allspice berries, scallions and thyme.

· Scotch bonnet peppers are a variety of the habañero pepper. To capture true jerk flavor, use imported Jamaican Scotch bonnet. Peppers were originally used to preserve foods before refrigeration was available.

· Allspice is the berry of the evergreen pimento. The outer layer of the berry has the most flavor. Using the actual berries provides better flavor than the ground powder.

· Dried, ground thyme can be easily found in grocery stores. Fresh thyme works great too.

· Fresh scallions, both the top and bottom, should be finely sliced.

· Other spices can be incorporated to create personalized variations.

WHAT ARE THE
SECRETS OF JERK COOKING?

· Relax. Enjoying the slow process of jerk cooking is the real secret of great jerk!

· Marinating. The longer meat marinates in the seasonings, the more robust the flavor. “Remember, patience is the ‘heart and soul’ of jerk cooking. Bahama Breeze’s jerk chicken is marinated for 24 hours,” notes Crossland.

· 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, then finished on the grill.

· Wood chips. 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.

· Other spices can be incorporated to create personalized variations.