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Jamaican “JERK” with Hot Scotch Bonnet Chili Peppers as standard

This post was inspired by my Fabulous Wife Perlina and her Dad John my (Father In Law)who is from Spanish Town, Jamaica and who both make a mean Jerk Chicken/Pork respectively.

Jamaica is the birthplace of the jerk cooking style, with the exception of reggae music, jerk cuisine is probably Jamaica’s best-known cultural export. You’ll find jerk in just about every Jamaican eatery, from roadside stands like Scotchies arguably the world’s most famous Jerk Joint in Montego Bay, to the upscale creative dishes at the Sugar Mill at Half Moon resort.

Jerk cooking is done when a charcoal fire is made in a pit in the ground and small planks of green aromatic pimento wood are placed on top of the hot coals to form a crude grill. The highly seasoned meat is stretched across this wooden grill in large slabs covered with a top layer of wood and left to cook slowly. The “real” jerk taste comes from a combination of the blend of seasonings used, the effect of the smoke created by the twin layers of green pimento wood and slow method of (John Bull’s Reggae Kitchen Video) cooking.

 Jerk was first created by the Arawak Indians, the original natives of Jamaica. The term “Jerk” originally referred to a process of curing and drying meat, hence the term beef jerky.  The term derives from the Quecha language, spoken by the indigenous denizens of Peru.  They referred to preserved, dried meat as “charqui” which was somehow transmuted via the Spanish and the English to “jerk.”

Some runaway slaves, (known as the Maroons), established their own inland communities in Jamaica and other Caribbean lsands.  Their culture reflected their African ancestry intermingled with elements of the Arawak Indians and western influences.  The mixed origins of Jamaican jerk seasoning can in part also be traced through the Maroons, all the way to their ancestral hunters of Western Africa. With their liberal use, of Peppers and spices. 

The Caribbean Islands and Jamaica in particular, has a colourful Pirate history. The term buccaneer derives from the Caribbean Arawak word buccan, a wooden frame for smoking meat, preferably manatee. From this became derived in French the word boucane and hence the name boucanier, English colonists anglicised the word boucanier to buccaneer. English settlers occupying Jamaica began to spread the name buccaneers with the meaning of pirates. The name then became universally adopted later in 1684.

Scoth Bonnet Chili Peppers, Jamaica, Jerk,

Jamaica Coat of Arms

There are any number of recipes for jerk seasoning, and many have an ingredient list a mile long. Jamaican food lovers agree that there are three jerk spice ingredients that are key:
allspice, Scotch bonnet peppers, and thyme.

  • The allspice berry, also known as “Jamaica pepper/Pimento,” is native to the island and has a rich, spicy flavor reminiscent of a mingling of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  • Scotch bonnet peppers are small, orange, wrinkly, and extremely hot–they are among the hottest chilis available.
  • Thyme is widely used in Caribbean cooking and adds complexity to the flavor of the meat. Additional ingredients that are often added to jerk seasoning include garlic, brown sugar, green onions, soy sauce, lime juice, orange juice, rum, bay leaves, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper.

When Christopher Columbus brought Chili Peppers and also (Pimento/AllSpice) back to Spain, the Spanish thought it was black pepper, which they called pimenta, they also call it Jamaican pepper because of where it was discovered and because it looked like pepper to them. Back in the days even before it was encountered by the explorer, it was used by the Mayans as an embalming agent, funny as it sounds, and by the Arawaks to preserve and cure meats. In some instances it was even used as a deodorant, it was sprinkled in shoes to keep down odour.

For information on the Jamaica Jerk Trail, including an interactive route map, go to www.visitjamaica.com/jerk.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-daily-meal/where-eat-president_b_1527973.html The President Of The USA

Suggestions:      Traditionally served alongside Rice & Peas, fried Plantain and of course some hot pepper sauce, washed down with a nice Jamaican Rum Punch.

Jamaican Rum Punch Recipe

This Jamaican Rum Punch Recipe is extremely easy to make. It goes very well with a designated driver.

Rum, Pimento AllSpice, Pepper, Hot Sauce,

Jamaican Rum Punch

 The rule of thumb for a strong Jamaican Rum Punch is to use your ingredients in these proportions:

An island adage, “One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong and four of weak!”

1 of bitter
2 of sweet
3 of strong
4 of weak

Personally, I find that “3 of strong” is enough to wake the dead, but maybe I’m just a weakling. This rum punch recipe uses 2 of strong, and I’ve had no complaints so far.

Jamaican Rum Punch


1 cup lime juice
1 1/2 cups Anchor Strawberry Syrup
1/2 cup honey
2 cups Wray and Nephew Overproof Rum
4 cups water
A few whole grains of pimento (all spice)

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, until the syrup and honey are well blended with the other ingredients. Ready to serve over ice.

Variations: The honey can be omitted and two cups of syrup used. Other brands of white rum may be used – vary the quantity according to the strength of the rum. Use syrup in other flavours or brands, or a dash of Hot Chili Sauce for the brave.

Hope you enjoy. Don’t drink it too fast, it will creep up on you!