Two Ways to Cook Jerk

On the Grill

“Good jerk has slightly dry, dark, crusty edges from the heat,” Suzanne Rousseau says. This, along with the influence of pimento wood and leaf smoke, is the key to jerked meat that tastes like it does in Jamaica.

Apply (see recipe at left) to or , and and to form a base for the meat, with a few inches of buffer around the sides. Soak the branches and leaves in water for at least 20 minutes (this will help them release flavorful smoke instead of igniting). When ready to cook, on a gas or charcoal grill, build an indirect heat source on one side of the grill and preheat to medium-high. Directly next to (but not on top of) the heat source, spread out the soaked pimento leaves in a single layer, and place the soaked branches in a row atop the leaves to form a rack for the meat. Place the meat on the branches and leaves. (The chicken should be skin-side up in a single layer, and the pieces can be close together but not touching.) Cover the grill and let cook, refueling as needed to keep the heat at around 350°F. Stop when the skin is charred and crispy, the juices run clear when poked with a knife, and the internal temperature measures 140°F, 1 hour 15 minutes. Serve the chicken pieces whole. Stop when the meat feels tender and pulls apart easily, and the exterior is crispy and darkened, about 2 hours. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and chop into 1-inch pieces.

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