Jerk seasoning, typical of Jamaica, is characterized by allspice and scotch bonnet peppers. The result is spicy and fragrant but not overwhelming. I serve them with Jamaican rice and peas, the name of which is a bit misleading since the peas in question are actually beans. In Jamaica typically they would be pigeon peas (Cajanus cajan), also sometimes called Congo peas or no-eye peas. The completely unrelated Black-eyed pea would be a good substitute as are the red kidney beans I have used here.
Jerk Pork Chops
1 Tbsp. allspice berries
½ medium onion
2 Tobago seasoning peppers or 1 scotch bonnet, seeded
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. dark rum, preferably Jamaican
1 Tbsp. oil
2 boneless pork loin chops, about 4 or 5 ounces each
Toast the allspice berries in a dry pan for 8 to 10 minutes. While they are cooling coarsely chop the onion and pepper then finely mince them in a food processor. Grind the allspice in a spice grinder. Add to the food processor jar along with the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste, the rum, and the oil. Process to a paste adding a bit of oil if necessary. Coat the pork chops on all side with the jerk mixture and set aside for at least an hour.
Prepare a grill or broiler. When hot, cook the pork chops for about 4 or 5 minutes on a side depending on thickness.
Jamaican Rice and Peas
4 ounces dried red kidney beans
½ yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup long-grain rice
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
½ tsp. salt
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 cup water or chicken stock
1 cup coconut milk (see note)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 whole Scotch bonnet, habanero, or Tobago seasoning pepper
Note: you can use canned coconut milk or you can make your own as a Sri Lankan room mate once taught me. Put ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut into a cup of boiling water. Boil for a couple minutes then whiz in a food processor or blender. Strain, squeezing out as much milk as possible.
Rinse the kidney beans, put in the pressure cooker, and cover with about 1 inch of water. Cook at 15 psi for 30 minutes after the weight begins to jiggle. Cool and open according to manufacturer’s directions.
Heat the oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 4 or 5 minutes, until they begin to brown on the edges. Add the garlic and rice, cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the grated ginger, salt, water or stock, and coconut milk. Add the kidney beans, the thyme, and the whole pepper. Bring to a boil then cover and turn the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove the pepper before serving. Save it for another use.