June 06, 2011

Jerk Pork Loin

I can't lie, I'm very intimidated by jerk seasoning.  Ever since a harrowing jerk experience in college where I was reprimanded by a Jamaican chef for drinking water after every bite of his chicken, I've stayed away from all things habanero.  However, I'm not one for being afraid of an ingredient.  It was time to conquer the pepper and the jerk! 

Jamaican jerk spice typically contains really hot peppers like habaneros and scotch bonnets, allspice, and other various spices.  I started reading around, finding what I liked best, and played with my food processor until I got a great wet jerk marinade.  The most important thing is to taste while your making the marinade to ensure you can handle the jerk.

Jerk Pork Loin
1/2 a red onion
1 large shallot
12 cloves of garlic
2 habaneros
3 tbsp allspice
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 lime, zest and juice
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 dash of soy sauce
leaves of 3 thyme branches
salt and pepper to taste
2 pork tenderloins

I chunked up the onion and shallot before adding them to the food processor.  I pulsed the blade until the onion and shallot were finely diced.  I added the garlic, spices, lime, vinegar, brown sugar, and soy sauce.  Before adding the peppers, I taste-tested the mixture to make sure everything was in balance, seasoning with salt and pepper.  I added the habaneros half a pepper at a time.  I tasted in between each addition until the mixture was almost too spicy to handle while still maintaining the flavor of the other ingredients.  I marinated the pork tenderloins for 24 hours in a plastic baggie.

Note: Gloves are imperative!  I took a pair home with me from work so I could take my contacts out at the end of the night without burning my eyes out . . .

Because I'm a grad student that lives in a basement, I don't have access to a grill.  I settled on baking the pork in the oven at 350 for about 45 minutes.  I cut up another onion in large sections to create a make-do roasting rack for the loins.  Halfway through the cooking, I flipped the loins over and added a little more marinade on top.  After pulling from the oven, I let the pork rest for ten minutes before serving to redistribute the juices.

Gorgeous, tender, slightly pink and spicy tenderloin is the result.  I switched out the chipotle for some of the leftover marinade to modify the Summer Creamed Corn recipe to cool down the meal and match the pork.  Uncle Ben's 90 second long grain rice (the only premade thing in my kitchen, cannot say enough good things about these) and a citrus-y chick pea salad were great and easy compliments.

Jerk Pork, Chick Pea Salad, Rice, and Jerk-seasoned Summer Creamed Corn

Officially cured of jerk-phobia!  Any other habanero ideas?

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