Maybe it’s the cooler weather or the Bull Outdoor Grill For Good Event, but I have been having a rekindled relationship with Caribbean flavors and I can’t think of anything more indicative of the Caribbean than Jamaican jerk spice. Jerk spice mixes can be dry rubs or marinades, but there are two ingredients that no jerk spice mix can go without — ground allspice and Scotch Bonnet (or Habanero) chilies. Personally I like to prepare my jerk spice as a wet rub because the other ingredient that I like to taste in my jerk are fresh scallions… and a lot of them. 🙂
This is a quick and easy preparation – simply throw all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until you have a loose paste. Don’t be afraid of the Scotch Bonnet’s fiery reputation and miss out on the fruity flavor that this chile provides. They are easily tamed by removing the seeds and the veins. Plus they leave you with a great tingle on your lips and tongue that really wakes up your palette to enjoy the big bold flavors from this jerk spiced chop.
I paired the jerk chop with a cooling mango salsa as a counterbalance to the spice. The sweet, juicy mango and crunchy red bell pepper are tossed with more allspice, chile, and scallions to carry the flavors through. That little bit of allspice in the salsa really enlivens the mango and bring the whole dish together.
Jerk Pork Loin Chops
makes six servings
Jerk wet rub:
1 bunch scallions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 habanero or Scotch Bonnet chilies, seeded and chopped
Zest from one orange, removed with a vegetable peeler and chopped
4 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon per pound of meat)
1 teaspoon black pepper
Six 1- to 1 1/4-inch thick pork loin chops
Caribbean Mango Salsa (recipe follows)
Grilling Method: Two-zone direct heat
Place all of the ingredients for the jerk wet rub in a blender or mini-chopper and pulse to a fine paste. (Do not use a food processor because there is not enough volume of the ingredients to create a paste.) If the mixture needs a little liquid to get it going, squeeze in a little juice from the orange.
Place chops in a single layer of a shallow baking dish or small baking sheet that is just large enough to hold them. Slather and rub both sides of the chops with the jerk wet rub making sure they are completely coated; use all of the rub. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hour hours and as long as a couple days.
Remove the chops from the marinade and scrape away excess marinade from the chops. Let sit at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes to take the chill off the meat.
Set up grill for direct heat grilling with two zones: high heat and medium heat. For charcoal grills, this means fewer coals on the lower heat side. Brush and oil the grates before cooking.
Place on the high heat side for two minutes to sear the meat, flip and sear the other side for two minutes. Move chops to the medium heat; rotate 90 degrees for crosshatch marks. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes per side or until the internal temperature reaches 140°F for medium (medium is 145°F; the temperature will rise another 5 degrees with carryover heat).
Allow the chops to rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Caribbean Mango Salsa
Makes 3 cups
2 cups diced ripe mango
1 small bell pepper, diced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 habanero chile, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate
Juice from 1/2 lime
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Stir together ingredients to thoroughly combine. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving for flavors to meld. Best if eaten the same day.
Cheers and Happy Grilling!