I love Jamaican music and food (and the diving) so decided to show how to make authentic Jamaican jerked pork and chicken. The process of jerking meats is credited to the Maroons – former slaves who escaped to the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. They would cook wild boar meat over slow fires that wouldn’t give off smoke and signal their position to the British army. Today it is common to see jerked meat and fish cooked fast over a hot fire so I combined both methods.
The common misconception about jerk style cooking is it is solely defined by the spices used – primarily allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers. The spices are an essential element however the cooking method and fuel are just as critical to achieving the full flavor profile. Pimento tree sticks are used as a platform for the meat as it cooks over pimento wood lump charcoal. Fortunately these items are easy to order from http://www.pimentowood.com.
I used my Marshall from The Good One Smokers because it gives me plenty of room for the pimento sticks during the smoking phase and I can use the grate over the large firebox to finish.
For the pork I used a pork butt that was butterflied to create pieces about 2″ thick. Walkerswood is a brand of traditional spice paste that comes from the Jamaican village of the same name.
The night before I rubbed the paste on the pork and chicken and let it sit overnight in the fridge. Here you see the pork placed over the pimento sticks I arranged on my smoker shelves. I made both mild and hot batches of pork and chicken since not everyone is comfortable with the traditional “heat”. To protect the mild flavor I put it on the top shelf.
The other key to getting the full jerked flavor profile is placing a simmer pot with water, allspice berries and pimento leaves in the smoker. I put mine on the lowest shelf so the steam would rise to the meats.
I smoked the pork at 275* with the pimento lump charcoal for about 2 hours before transferring to covered foil pans and moving it to the top shelf. I put chicken legs and boneless thighs on the pimento sticks and closed the smoker for another hour.
After the chicken had been in the smoker for about an hour I took it out and finished it over the firebox. This put a nice color on the meat and blackened the spices which intensified their flavor. The Marshall has a very large firebox and comes with a heavy duty cooking grate. It’s one of the features that I love about it. I like to put GrillGrates over the cooking grate because they prevent flareups and raise the surface temperature about 200 degrees which makes a great searing/finishing station. Ask about GrillGrates next time you’re in one of the BBQ PIt Stop locations.
When the chicken was finished I removed the trays of pork from the smoker. Here is one of the trays before I shredded it.
Here are both versions of pork and chicken ready to eat! We had a bunch of friends over and each family brought a Jamaican side dish they picked from this website: http://cooklikeajamaican.com/category/side-dishes/.
Add in a beautiful late Spring weather, and reggae playlist and it was a night to remember!
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