There are two ways to cook jerk in this recipe adapted from Jamaican cookbook authors Michelle and Suzanne Rousseau: on a grill outfitted with pimento wood branches, which will get you closer to the true Jamaican jerk experience, and in the oven. Since you won’t be getting any smoke in the oven method, toast the whole spices in a dry, heavy skillet until fragrant before adding them to the marinade—they’ll lend the finished sauce an additional layer of complexity.
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For the Grill:
For the Oven:
For the marinade:
- 6 Scotch bonnet chiles, stemmed and seeded
- 3 scallions, trimmed and coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup fresh thyme leaves
- 2 medium garlic cloves
- 1 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. peeled, chopped fresh ginger
- 1 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. allspice berries
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. coriander seeds
- ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
- Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp. dark Jamaican rum
- 2 Tbsp. white vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. strong brewed coffee
- 1½ tsp. tsp. molasses
For the pork:
- 1 (3-pound) boneless pork shoulder with a good amount of fat
- Pimento branches and pimento leaves, if using grill method
- Lime wedges, for serving
- Make the marinade: Make the marinade: In a food processor, add all the ingredients. Pulse only until slightly chunky. (Makes 1 1⁄3 cups.) Reserve one-quarter of the marinade for serving; refrigerate. In a large resealable plastic bag, add the remaining marinade. Add the pork, and turn several times to coat. Seal and refrigerate for 1–2 days.
- For the grill method: Gather enough pimento branches and pimento leaves to form a base for the pork, with a few inches of buffer around the sides. Soak the branches and leaves in water for at least 20 minutes (this will help them release flavorful smoke instead of igniting).
- When ready to cook, on a gas or charcoal grill, build an indirect heat source on one side of the grill and preheat to medium-high. Directly next to (but not on top of) the heat source, spread out the soaked pimento leaves in a single layer, and place the soaked branches in a row atop the leaves to form a rack for the pork. Place the pork on the branches and leaves. Cover the grill and let cook, refueling as needed to keep the heat at around 350°F. Stop when the pork feels tender and pulls apart easily, and the exterior is crispy and darkened, about 2 hours. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and chop into 1-inch pieces.
- For the oven method: Set a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 475°F for chicken or 500°F for pork. Line a baking sheet with foil, and set a rack on top. Transfer the pork to the rack, and place in the oven. Roast, flipping every 20 minutes until evenly charred and tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and chop into 1-inch pieces. Serve with lime wedges and reserved marinade.