I love jerk. Truly. Sweet, spicy, peppery and smokey. Easy way to transform a basic protein into something unforgettable. A close friend brought me a jar for Christmas. Good thing too, I was almost out.
I'm also getting tired of Holiday leftovers. Seems like a good day to fire up the grill. Along the way I'll show ya some Sweet Potato Pudding and Collard Greens. Ja man.
First a little history (you knew this was coming) Jamaican Jerk is a miracle. It's a blend of Allspice, Scallions, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Scotch Bonnet Peppers, Vinegar, Black Peppercorns and Sugar. That's just the basic formula, there are many variations. It can be a dry-rub or a wet marinade. It's applied to meat and grilled. Today I'm using Chicken thighs but it's also really great with pork, goat, lamb..etc.
It came about after the British invaded the Spanish colony of Jamaica. The African slaves; rather than be recaptured, fled into the mountains and joined the native tribes. Surrounded by deep forests where game was plentiful they used whatever they could gather and their own heritage to transform humble meals into something wonderful. Truly cooking poor, eating rich.
Today I used Chicken thighs, 'cus it's good. I took the skin off and the bone out
Jar of Jerk (this can be tricky to find) look for one that is more paste like than sauce.
4-5 White Sweet Potatoes, peeled
Jar of Pineapple chunks
Four large eggs
1/2 cup milk
Pinch of ground Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper
2 big bunches Collard Greens, stems removed and rough chopped
4 pieces Salt Pork, cubed
1-2 Jalapeño chopped, seeds and all
One whole Clove
2 cups water
It's so easy
Smear a good heap of Jerk onto Chicken. Wear gloves, you do NOT want to touch anything with Scotch-Bonnet pepper in it. Turns your hands bright red and burns.
Set aside for at least an hour.
Onto the Collard Greens. It's a relative of Kale, has smooth leaves and a mustardy, spinach kinda thing going on. Very fibrous so it takes time to make it tender.
Heat up a deep pot.
Plop in the chunks of Salt Pork. Render the fat out. That'll be our Sauté medium.
Mmmmm pork fat
Add those Peppers, season. Wilt for a bit, it will shrink some. Add your water, whole clove and bring to simmer, cover and wait. Takes about an hour, I'm not kidding.
Next let's tackle Sweet Potato pudding.
pre-heat the oven to 375F
Peel spuds and chop into equal chunks. Place in deep pot and barely cover with salted water. Add some ground pepper in there too. Bring to boil and simmer until soft all the way through.
Once done, drain all water and put the pot back on the stove and shake it until all steam stops. Water equals lumps. Neat trick right?
Think of regular mashed 'taters.
Now, off heat add butter, Nutmeg. Use a fork and mash around, should be real easy. Add the milk. Still beating? Good, switch to a sturdy spoon. Add the eggs, mix, now empty the entire contents of the can of Pineapple chunks. Mix.
Dump the whole thing into a Casserole pan, sprinkle with a little Paprika if you like. Throw it into the oven. Bake for 40 minutes, check it. It will puff up some. Done? Good, remove from oven.
Check those greens ok? Maybe pull one out and bite it. Tender? Yes! Good, remove and drain. Done.
Heat up that grill, 500. Fast and smokey.
Keep your heat consistent. Flip once. Remove to plate and let it rest.
It's great just the way it is but I always like to hand chop it first. Simple right?
Knife and cutting board...done
Doesn't need any garnish. It's great, trust me. Scoop of pudding for sweet, greens for bitter and jerk for heat. Try it.
Cooking poor, eating rich.
Get your grub on