Origins & Information - (A-Z) Jerk

I guess I should qualify the title by saying that I mean Jamaican Jerk which refers to both the seasoning and the method of cooking. I got to have some of this in its authentic form when I went to Jamaica last year both as seasoning and chicken in the middle of the night on a street corner. There are restaurants that you'll probably run into outside of Jamaica that say they have Jamaican Jerk chicken, particularly chicken wings. It's quite a varied and spicy rub that brings new and distinctive flavors to one's palate.

Jerk is a style of cooking where the meats are dry-rubbed or wet marinated with the jerk seasoning. Traditionally cooked over charcoal, it now can be grilled in a "jerk pan" which is a steel drum over charcoal; ultimately it ought to be barbecued slowly. Its name has three possible origins; one claim is that it is derived from the Spanish term charqui which is jerky meat while another claim is that the meat is turned ("jerked") repeatedly until cooked, and the third claim is that the meat is poked and filled with spices. The most common meats to be jerked are chicken and pork. If you're looking for authentic jerk seasoning, it must have allspice berries, Scotch bonnet peppers, and thyme. All other additions will lead to variations of the seasoning. A hot seasoning, it is also very flavorful and an excellent style to try out when you get the chance!

This post is part of an A-Z series I am running for my blog category "Origins and Information" while I am in Vietnam with my family for July. Many of the posts in the series answer questions that were posed by friends/readers. If y'all enjoy the series, I will gladly run another in the future!