I’ve made oven jerk pork for the blog before but it’s summer and I’ve decided to fire up the grill and cook it there instead. You can find the oven jerk pork recipe here! There are some specific things to know about cooking jerk pork on the grill so I’m leaving those notes here in this post. I’ve also updated the ingredient list and methods for seasoning to make things a bit easier for you.
Here are some things you should know before getting started:
Cut of Meat
When selecting meat for jerk pork (oven or grill) look for a shoulder cut. You will sometimes see this labelled also as “picnic cut”. This cut of pork should have the skin on and be considerably fatty. It generally will also have the bone still in. You need the pork to be fatty because leaner cuts of pork will be dryer after the long cooking process of jerk pork. The fat will help to keep the meat moist, tender and juicy. That’s the end result we are after. If you find a picnic cut that is still whole and looks like a ham, ask the butcher to cut it for you. Ask them to keep it in large cuts — about 2 inches thick or larger. The larger the cut, the more the meat will also retain moisture. Thin cuts of pork are not ideal for jerk pork.
Making Jerk Seasoning
Jerk seasoning requires all of the following:
Onions (use both green and white for dimension of flavor),
Dried Pimento berries (there is no jerk without pimento),
Hot peppers (scotch bonnets or habaneros if you can’t find scotch bonnets),
Fresh Ginger root,
Optional ingredients that can go into jerk:
Browning (brown food coloring)
All of the wet ingredients should be blended. Blending the ingredients will require a carrier liquid. I use olive oil but canola oil can also be used. Some people use water as well. I like using oil because it helps to keep the meat moist. It also aids in the cooking of the seasonings and wont quickly evaporate as water will during the cooking process. I add the dry seasonings separately to the pork. Paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, all purpose or meat seasoning, are added after.
- A note about browning and sauces: Heavy brown sauces are great for helping meat to develop color in the oven. On the grill, the same sauces will burn and ruin your food. Avoid using browning when cooking on the grill. The grill will help to develop the color as the meat cooks.
Heating the Grill: Cooking jerk pork is a low and slow process. To get the best results, keep the grill on low for the majority of the cooking time. You are using the grill to create somewhat of an oven type condition so it shouldn’t go above 350 degrees while the meat cooks. Most gas grills have an external thermometer. Keep watching the temperature so that the meat does not cook too fast on too high heat. Getting the grill up to temperature may mean turning on the burners where the meat is not directly sitting. That’s okay. Use those burners to get the grill to the correct temperature.
Using a coal grill is a lot trickier. You will need to cook the pork on indirect heat. This means, building a smaller fire on only one side of the grill and cooking the pork on the other side away from the fire. Cooking on indirect heat will help the meat to cook slowly enough without burning.
Using Foil Paper: Some people use foil paper on the grill to cover dirty grates. Using foil paper on the grill while cooking jerk pork is a bit more strategic. The foil catches the juices that run from the meat and helps to keep the juices close. The foil serves as sort of a pan and is a super useful hack. All of the juices simply don’t just escape into the bottom of the grill, but stay where they are useful for helping the meat to tenderize. If you are alarmed that the meat is not getting the right color while on the foil, don’t be. Be patient as the color will develop as the meat continues to cook.
Using the “wet-up” method: Here’s why your jerk pork probably ended up super dry and not as good as it is from the roadside jerk man: The juices ran from the meat and you never added them back. Adding juices back to the meat as it cooks is done by simply adding water to the marinade and placing it in a bottle. Spray the meat each time you turn it to add the moisture back. I used a water bottle but you can use a fancy food safe spray bottle 🙂 As you add the marinade during cooking, you are also layering-in flavor. Using the “wet-up” method is also helpful for cooking jerk chicken. You will have a more moist and flavorful end result using this method.
Cooking Time: The cook time will be a bit long because of the low temperatures. Do this when you have time to dedicate 1.5- 2 hours to cooking. The cooking time will depend on how much pork you are cooking. For the last 10-15 minutes of cooking, I get rid of the foil and place the pork directly over the heat so that it can develop some color and char. I do this once the pork has fully cooked so it doesn’t need to stay on very long.
Resting the Meat: Remove the pork once it is cooked and tent it with foil paper. Allow the meat to rest before cutting into it so all of the juices will not run out.
For this recipe you will need:
- 5lbs pork
- 5 scallions
- ½ of a large white onion
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 2 scotch bonnet peppers
- 2 tbsp whole peppercorns
- 15-25 pimento berries
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger root
- 1 tbsp all purpose seasoning
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- ¼ cup olive oil or canola oil
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
Variations from last recipe:
- There is NO BROWNING in this recipe
- No shallots in this recipe so I used more white onion
- Less hot peppers for less spice
- Used whole peppercorns instead of black pepper
- Added pimento berries to the blender
- Used 1 tbsp more oil because this was being grilled
You can find the green sauce recipe here and make sure you subscribe to her blog!