Jerk is a word I hear thrown around with a certain amount of casualness on the London food scene, self-included. It tends to speak nothing of the essential green pimento wood the meat is cooked on for hours which gives it it's deep unmistakable smokey flavour.
I remember being 7 years old on my first trip to Jamaica and I got some Jerk Pork from a hut on route to Montego bay beach. The man was armed with nothing more than a chopping board, a machete knife and a bottle of sauce. This sauce I have been trying to re-create ever since. Sweet, with a dash of vinegar and of course scotch bonnet peppers. Served also with the softest hard-dough bread you have ever tasted. Despite its ironic name. That day I learned that Jerk was more than a marinade. It was a little bit of culture drenched in history and tradition.
Jerk was said to be created by the Maroons, which were Slaves who had escaped the plantations and through resourcefulness Jerk was born. The Maroons would use the things available to them at the time, such as wild boar and cook the meat using pimento for wood fires.
Pictured are my Jerk style chicken skewers with plantain jam and sweetcorn salsa. It's by no means authentic, but my version of a Jamaican classic dish, and also in my own way serves as a nod to that man on the road on route to Montego bay who gave me my first taste of the real thing.
6-8 scotchbonnets deseeded 1 whole bulb of garlic
¼ bunch thyme just leaves & soft branches 2 spring onions
2 dessert spoons of brown sugar 2 lime juice and zest
1 dessert spoon of all spice, or pimento 2 teaspoons celery salt
(preferably whole berries) 1 inch fresh ginger peeled
1 dessert spoon black pepper corns 2 teaspoons ground coriander
About 300ml Pomace olive oil to blend 2 dessert spoons sea salt
(any good quality, inexpensive unrefined oil)
Blitz all ingredients together in a food processor.
This recipe will keep happily for about 3 months in an airtight jar in the fridge.
Marinate meat, fish or shellfish for at least 24–48 hours.
Grill in a jerk pan, BBQ or bake in the oven and serve.