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~ Jamaican Jerk Style -- A Unique Method of Cooking ~

6a0120a8551282970b022ad38d1183200dIn a (coco)nutshell, jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica.  It was developed by African slaves who escaped into the mountains of Jamaica after the British captured this island paradise from Spain in 1655.  Forced to adapt to their new surroundings, the Maroons (the name given to the escaped slaves) made use of the foods nature provided, by pulverizing the edibles they gathered into a fiery pasty rub.  By adding fruit and/or citrus juice, the fiery pasty rub became a spicy basting and dipping sauce.  When thinned down with a bit of drinking water or the milk from a coconut, the spicy sauce became a highly-flavored wet marinade -- over time, items from trades, like vinegar and/or rum were transitioned into the mixture.  Once rubbed and/or marinated, the meat or game they hunted was then slowly cooked over a smoking pimento-wood fire.

Originally used for pork, it's now common to "jerk" chicken, beef, fish & seafood too.

The "jerk" in jerk comes from the Spanish word via the Peruvian word "charqui", the noun for dried strips of meat now called "jerky".  Jerk seasoning was/is the dry spice blend used to season jerky, and Jamaican jerk seasoning, known for the flavors of allspice, thyme and pepper, is perhaps the most famous.  Throughout the Caribbean, islanders preserved/cured their spice-rubbed meats by drying them in the intense sun or over a slow fire -- this allowed the meat to be taken on long journeys and eaten as is or reconstituted in boiling water.  The word most likely transitioned to the verb, "jerking", in reference to the way the meat gets "jerked" around on the grill as it cooks.

Try my Spice-is-Nice Oven-Roasted Jamaican-Jerk Chicken:

6a0120a8551282970b022ad366f570200cServe it w/my Island-Style Bejeweled Coconut Rice:

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3ad3630200bOr, how about a Jerk Chicken & Slaw on Coco Bread Sandwich:

6a0120a8551282970b022ad38f2224200d"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)


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