Last week, my co-worker Scott gave me these scotch bonnet peppers he and his wife grow in their backyard garden. I wanted to do them justice so I started thinking...there is a large Jamaican community in Miami and I pass Jamaican markets all the time, but had never ventured into one. There was never a better time to learn to make an authentic jerk dish.
WARNING: SCOTCH BONNET PEPPERS ARE EXTREMELY HOT! HANDLE WITH CARE! I used gloves to de-seed and mince them.
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup white vinegar
4 green onions (chopped)
2 garlic cloves (chopped)
2-5 scotch bonnet peppers, de-seeded and minced (The two I used give it a 3 on a heat scale of 1-10)
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3-4 allspice berries, crushed
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine oil and vinegar in a bowl. Add other ingredients and whisk until mixed up!
I used two pork tenderloins for this recipe- but you could use some thick pork chops too. Put the meat in a shallow container and pour marinade over it. Leave in refrigerator for 24 hours, turning every 5 hours or so.
The next day- you're ready to cook! Let the meat sit for 15 minutes or so at room temperature. Preheat the grill and then turn it down to medium heat. Put meat on the grill. I left it on for 30-40 minutes until the internal temperature was 160 degrees. Turn it every 15 minutes or so. Leave the grill closed and if you are using charcoal, leave the meat on indirect heat. When it's done, let it rest for 15 minutes.
At the Jamaican grocer, I bought a box of Festival. The best way to describe it is that it is a little like a hush puppy. It was as very easy to make out of the box. You add water, let it sit for 15 minutes, divide the dough and fry it. It was a great side dish because it was slightly sweet, complimenting the spice of the jerk flavors. There were many interesting ingredients at the grocer including mustard oil, rose water, strange-looking fresh vegetables and cans of things I have never cooked with before. Another item caught my eye. The only kosher balsamic glaze (it says so on the bottle). It looked out of place among all of the exotic ingredients from the islands, but there it was.
Back to the jerk pork. WOW!! The meat was tender and the flavor was complex and amazing. Yes- sure the scotch bonnets gave it a kick, but the heat did not overpower all of the other flavors. They all came together and a well-balanced jerk flavor that everyone could enjoy was the result. Enjoy it we did- we even fed Joel and Michael, the guys trimming our poinciana tree in the backyard. We ate and then ate some more. The jerk pork will now be part of my repitoire. Thank you for the peppers, Scott!
The next time you are at a farmer's market, pick one seasonal ingredient that looks great and see what you can come up with...and the eggs.