Thursday, March 12, 2009

Jamaican Jerk Sauce

This recipe is for "Jamaican Jerk Sauce". Its time to start firing up the grills, and enjoy the coming spring! Jerk sauce is essentially a sweet and spicy glaze, almost a caribean BBQ. Jerk refers to the fact that the sauce is usually used on "jerked" chicken, meaning chicken that is slow grilled and pulled, but you can literally put it on anything and get great results.

In Jamaica, real jerk chicken is slow cooked over an open fire, utilizing the wood from the Pimento tree, not the pimento pepper plant, which allspice is harvested. Additionally, the main spice in the sauce is allspice, which is not a blend of spices, but a berry on a tree. Think of allspice as a more fragrant type of peppercorn. There is a lot of sweetener in Jerk, be it Molasses or brown sugar, so remember not to put the food over a fire, but to the side of it instead, to keep the sweetener from burning on your food.

While we're on the subject, I'll explain the difference between BBQ'ing and grilling. When you put food directly in the path of heat, it is called "Grilling". Grilling is done at a much hotter temperature, than BBQ-ing. Hotter temperatures mean a few things: If you are cooking a protein, i.e., meat or fish, the protein will contract faster at higher temperatures, which is why your burgers always end up meatballs instead of nice flat patties. The other bad thing about high heat, is that fat cooks out too fast to be absorbed into the protein, which is why less fatty proteins should be cooked slow and low, and fatty cuts can be cooked at high temps. For example, you grill steaks, but not briskets or ribs.

The trick to cooking Jerk food properly is to BBQ it, not grill it. In BBQ cooking, the food should NOT be in the path of the heat. When you build your fire in the grill, build it to one side, and put the food on the other, and SHUT THE LID! By doing this, you will basically slow cook the food like an oven, and simultaneously smoke it. It will take considerably longer, but it's always nice to enjoy some time to yourself and enjoy the great outdoors, especially in the spring. If you can get some nice real wood (or wood chips), cedar, alder apple or cherry, use it. You will be really impressed by the flavor difference.

Makes 1 quart, which is a lot — but it lasts almost forever — and you will become addicted to it! Very easy to make, just put it all in a blender and puree!

- 2 Tbl Allspice
- 2 Tbl fresh Thyme or about a 3 or 4 sprigs 6" long or so (Marvins has a great Thyme called "Lemon Thyme" that is perfect for this)
- 1/2 Scotch Bonnet Pepper, or an orange Habenero (This is one of the signature ingredients, but it is very hot, wear gloves when you touch it. You can add more or less to taste when you are finished blending it.)
- 1 tsp Black pepper
-2 fresh Sage leaves
- 8 gloves of garlic
- 2 cups of Molasses (or brown sugar)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup Soy Sauce
- 3/4 cup wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup Organic Orange Juice
- Juice of 4 limes
- 2 whole green onions, more if you like green onions
- 1 cup of diced sweet onions
- a couple of scrapes of Nutmeg
- a big pinch of ground cinnamon
- Salt to taste, but you don't have to have it in this one!

Turn on the reggae, grab a cold beverage and enjoy!

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