#AtoZChallenge: #Cooking Terms – Jerk, Jamaican Jerk

JJerk is used to describe the dry or wet seasoning mix used to jerk a particular food.  It is also a style of cooking native to Jamaica in which meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a very hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice.

The term jerk is said to come from the word charqui, a Spanish term of Quechua origin for jerked or dried meat, which eventually became jerky in English.

The history of “Jerking” dates back to the native Arawak Indians who used Jamaican pimento (also called all-spice) to season and smoke meat.  In 1655, during the time of the British invasion of Jamaica, African slaves fled into the Jamaican Mountains.  In order to preserve the wild meats they caught the African slaves would use spices and smoking in order to preserve meats.

The main ingredients in Jamaican Jerk are Pimiento (also known as allspice), scotch bonnet peppers (also known as habenero peppers), and thyme.  Lime and/or rum can also be added to make a marinade.  Other spices and herbs that may be included (depending on the preference of the cook) are: cinnamon, ginger, cloves, garlic, and onion.

A variety of meats (and even vegetables) can be jerked including chicken, beef, pork, and even fish.  The original meat used was pork.  Pork remains one of the most common meats to be jerked even today, along with chicken.   The process of jerking involves either marinading or rubbing the food in question and then grilling to a “tender perfection”

One final note about Jamaican Jerk; If you cannot handle spicy-hot foods, jerk may not be for you.



Join me on an A to Z Journey of Cooking Terms throughout the month of April.


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