Jerk pork always has a special place in my heart. Now that I think about it, pork is my favorite protein to cook using the jerk method. It keeps the pork tender and moist. Growing up I remember weekend trips to the north of Jamaica weren’t complete without stopping by Jerk Pen for 1/4 pound of jerk pork with festival or bread.
What is jerk?
Jerk is a cooking method originating from Jamaica. It came about as a collaboration between the Native Indians (mainly Taino and Arawak tribes) and African runaway slaves (known as the Maroons). During the Anglo-Spanish War of 1655, the Spanish set their enslaved people free. They Maroons ran to the mountains where they were introduced to the Natives, who taught them the land and their cooking methods. Jerk was developed by the Natives as a way to preserve meat, specifically pork. It is believed that the Natives hunted wild hogs and the Maroons seasoned the meat and cooked it the way the Natives taught them.
The traditional way to cook jerk is to smoke meat over pimento wood using a marinade made using thyme and dried pimento berries over a pit fire. Some used scotch bonnet peppers as well. Today, most Jamaicans don’t use the traditional methods, but instead they use a jerk pan. However, the basics of the marinade remain the same.
What part of the pig is best for jerk pork?
You can use any part of the pig. In Jamaica they usually jerk the whole pig, and you get to pick the part that you like. But since cooking a whole pig is not realistic for many people, I recommend using the part of the pig that you prefer. In my opinion, pork shoulder, butt or shoulder steak works best. If you like your pork leaner I say go for the loin or chops. If you decide to use a whole pork shoulder or butt, then I recommend cutting it into steaks. This way it’s easier to grill and you can chop it up later if you wish.
Is it better to use a rub or marinade?
This is totally preference as both will work just fine. If you want to use a dry rub, I recommend using this one from All Seasoning. Want to use a wet marinade I recommend Walkerswood or use A Dozen Cousins to keep it Whole30. The wet marinade is actually more traditional. If you want to make your own dry rub at home, then check out my jerk rub mix in my jerk bacon recipe.
What does jerk pork pair well with?
Looking for the perfect side? Try festival! It is a Jamaican version of hush puppies. I highly recommend making a double batch as they are so addicting. Everyone will be coming back for more. Roasted or boiled breadfruit is a great option, as well as fried bammy (a cassava flatbread). But no jerk meal is complete without jerk sauce for dipping.
- Mixing bowl
- Long tongs
- Meat thermometer
- 2.5 pounds pork shoulder steak
- 2.5 TBSP jerk marinade I used 2 packets of A Dozen Cousins jerk marinade
- ½ onion sliced
- ½ green bell pepper chopped
- 3 stalks green onion chopped
- 1 TBSP coconut aminos or coconut teriyaki
- ½ TBSP pimento
- Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix to combine.
- Marinate for 30 minutes to overnight.
- Preheat grill to 400 degrees Fahrenheit then reduce the heat to low.
- Remove pork from marinade, add to the grill and cover. Check after 5 minutes.
- Flip once the pork begins to get some color. Flip occasionally until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit using a meat thermometer (40-45 minutes).
- Let pork rest for 10 minutes then slice or chop into cubes.