Jamaican jerk is a fragrant and delectable mixture of sweet and savoury with enough heat thrown in to satisfy your taste. Its history can be traced back to the middle of the 17th century when a group of slaves in Jamaica escaped their British captors and disappeared into the Jamaican mountains. They became known as the Maroons and would blend an array of the spices and herbs growing around them to marinate and cook the wild game they hunted. The origin of the term jerk itself is not clear. It may refer to a traditional method of poking holes in meat so that flavour could be easily absorbed. Alternatively it could be derived from a long-established method of drying meat imbedded with generous amount of spices to help prevent spoilage.
Whatever its history, Jamaican Jerk is a truly unique flavor and if you haven’t come across it so far it is time you did! The following is our favourite recipe for preparing the delicious taste of Jamaican Jerk.
Jamaican Jerk spice:
4 stalks green onions or 12 stalks chives, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup sweet onion, chopped
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tbsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp fresh ginger or 1/8 tsp ground ginger
1 to 2 tsp soy sauce to moisten
Salt and pepper to taste
Black bean mixture:
1 medium onion, chopped
¼ cup water
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 – 19 ounce cans black beans, rinsed
2 cups chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned
1 tsp ginger
Whole wheat rice, couscous or other desired grain, cooked as usual.
To make Jamaican Jerk spice:
Place onions, pepper and garlic in food processor and chop.
Add rest of ingredients and blend until smooth.
To make black beans:
In a skillet over medium heat, cook onion in the water, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add green and red bell peppers and cook, stirring, about 4 minutes, until tender.
Add beans, tomatoes, ginger and jerk spice and heat through. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
Cook desired grain product.
Serve hot black bean mixture over rice or other grain.