Sunday, May 2, 2010

Jerk Pork

I was excited to try real Jamaican jerk chicken as soon as I got to Jamaica, but when we got to the Jerk Center on the road from Montego Bay to St. Elizabeth I was surprised to be given the choice of Jerk pork, which I jumped at. For some reason Jerk pork is not a concept that I have run into the states. Maybe that's because unlike its chicken equivalent, Jerk pork truly requires the hardwood smoking it receives in a real jerk set-up like you see below. You can make passable Jerk chicken in an oven at home, but bad Jerk pork is just terrible, as you will discover even in Jamaica at a half-assed Jerk stall. When it's done right, though, it becomes smoky pink on the inside and charred black and caramel crisp on the outside. The large swaths of fat in the meat will have essentially been transformed into spicy bacon. Hacked up and doused in the incredibly hot scotch bonnet homemade pepper sauce and sweet Jerk-flavored barbeque sauce you can find at Jamaican Jerk centers, it is like alpha-barbecue, like the superior progenitor of the entire culinary milleu. As you can see from the menu below, most Jerk centers are pretty straight-forward deals, offering only Jerk and a bit of starch to quell the scotch bonnet burn. Once you've had a quarter pork paired with festival (sweet fried-dough that tastes to me like the coating on a corn dog) and a Red Stripe, you won't miss side dishes.

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