If you’re a fan of Jamaican jerk pork with its assaulting hit of bold, fiery flavors, look no further than this Caribbean Jerk Smoked Pork. I use a cheater’s method for my Jamaican Jerk seasoning and after you try it, I guarantee, there’s no going back. This jerk pork recipe is truly easy to make and it’s always a winner. Plus, there’s only 2 ingredients — you heard me.
Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
Ok, let’s discuss the elephant in the room. My cheater’s Jamaican jerk seasoning. It’s Walker’s Wood. I know. I’m a food blogger — shouldn’t I be making my own, from scratch with 30 individual, hand-picked spices? Well, I could. But I honestly don’t think it’s worth the laundry list of ingredients when there actually IS an authentic Caribbean jerk paste that comes in a bottle and costs about $3-4. Come on. I just saved you $40 in ingredients, a teary-eyed hour of chopping and processing and no one else has to know… Pinky swear.
Besides, my friend and restauranteur, Joe Cascio of Square One Fish Company, first turned me on to Walker’s Wood Jamaican Jerk Seasoning about 25 years ago. It’s what he uses when he’s entertaining friends — because it has a deeply authentic flavor and doesn’t pussy-foot around with spice and heat. It’s in there, baby!
Jerk Pork Recipe
This Jamaican jerk pork takes two days to make, but doesn’t require a lot of hand-holding and tending. The first day, you butterfly the pork shoulder and rub it liberally with the Caribbean jerk sauce, then let it rest overnight. You want the flavors to really penetrate the pork and an overnight soak will do the trick.
Marinating Jamaican Jerk Pork
- Trim the excess fat cap from the pork shoulder and discard.
- Butterfly your pork shoulder so that it lays flat and is about 2” thick (you can ask your butcher to do this for you). Or butterfly it yourself:
- Make a cut in the side of the ham to the bone, holding the knife parallel to the cutting board.
- Cut first on one side of the bone and then on the other, using the tip of your very sharp knife to make small, hash cuts around the bpme, until you can remove the bone altogether.
- Cut through the thick part of the shoulder almost to the edge and unfold it so that you have a broad flat slab of meat.
- Make a series of small holes (about 1/2” deep and wide in the meat, about 2” apart. (Jamaicans call this “jooking” the meat and it allows the Caribbean jerk to penetrate the meat)
- Liberally rub the meat with the jerk paste and poke it into all of the slits you made earlier.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight.
PRO TIP: I recommend wearing rubber gloves to massage the Jamaican jerk seasoning into the meat. This rub has habanero peppers in it and if you have any knicks or cuts on your hands, they will end up feeling like they’re on fire. Heck, even if you’re blemish-free, you don’t want the oils from the rub on your hands — they can easily transfer to your face or (heaven forbid) your eyes if you should rub them. That would be BAD.
Soaking Wood Chips For Caribbean Jerk Smoked Pork
An hour before you start cooking, remove the meat from the refrigerator to come to room temperature and soak your wood chips. I like hickory chips for this and you can soak them in water, but my husband, Scott prefers a mixture of water and half a beer. The remainder of the beer, he considers his spoils…
Smoking Jamaican Jerk Pork
- Place the soaked wood chips in a smoking box or create your own smoking pouches by piling 1/3 of the drained smoking chips in the center of a 12” piece of tin foil. Seal the packet by folding over the top and creasing the foil. Fold the ends up. Use a sharp knife to poke holes all over the packet. Make 2 additional smoking packets the same way.
- You’ll use an indirect method of cooking for the first half of this process. That means that the heating elements and wood chips are on one side of the grill and the Jamaican jerk pork is on the other side.
- Set the foil packets on one side of the grill, directly on the heating elements or charcoal briquets but under the grill grates. Cover the grill and heat it on high heat until the packets begin to smoke. Reduce the heat to medium and place the pork on the grill opposite the wood chips, so that it’s not getting any direct heat.
- Smoke the pork for about an hour, keeping the grill temperature between 350°-375°.
Finish Pork Shoulder Over Direct Heat
- For the last 15-20 minutes of cooking, move the pork over the heating elements, and keep it at about 400°-450°, with the lid closed for most of the time, so you don’t lose the heat. Watch for flare ups, though.
- The meat is ready when it reaches about 185°- 195° internal temperature.
How To Know When The Meat Is Ready
I recommend a good instant read thermometer for this — and my favorite is the Thermoworks Thermapen Mk4. It’s not cheap, but this is the Cadillac of meat thermometers and probably is the only one you’ll EVER need. Here’s why:
- 2-3 second readings!
- Foldaway thermocouple probe
- Patented auto-rotating display
- Use in either hand
- Motion-sensing sleep & wake mode
- Intelligent backlight
- Waterproof to IP67
- 3,000 hour battery life
- Takes a AAA Battery — not one of those weird, impossible to find, custom sizes (thank-you-very-much)
- Display temps in °C or °F
I’m an affiliate for the Thermapen, because it’s a product I really believe in. If you’re in the market for a good instant read, check out this link for special offers and deal (you won’t pay any more for the product and I’ll make a few dollars for another pound of hamburger for the grill).
So let’s talk about this Caribbean Jerk Smoked Pork. Just look at that burnished bark. Isn’t it a thing of beauty? By the way, if you happen to swipe your finger through that glorious essence — you will feel the burn. This is serious Jamaican jerk seasoning.
I know it’s tough, but you need to allow the pork rest for ten or fifteen minutes before slicing into it, so the juices can redistribute throughout the shoulder. Don’t worry, your restraint will pay off. The smoked pork will be juicy, tender and you’ll get that nice hickory smoke flavor, but let’s be real. That Jamaican Jerk Seasoning is what REALLY takes it up a notch. The crispy bits of bark on the crust of the pork are meaty, unctuous and fiery all in the same bite.
Check out that subtle pink smoke ring around the edge of the Caribbean Jerk Smoked Pork. That’s how you know it’s legit. Some people like to cut their pork into chunks, but we prefer thin slices. The interior of the meat is juicy and tender and the exterior is where all that Caribbean jerk lies. So while you’ll get the heat, it’s not overwhelming.
You could just carve it up and serve it with your favorite sides, but honestly, to me, a sandwich is where it’s at. Piled on a bun (preferably a brioche hamburger bun or those tasty Hawaiian rolls) with a scoop of soothing, crunchy coleslaw that marries so well with the unctuous pork. Of course, you’ll want a cold beer to wash it down, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t pair it with the classic Jamaican brew, Red Stripe.
What To Serve with Jamaican Jerk Pork:
- Brussel Fennel Apple Slaw
- Bacon and Egg Potato Salad
- Classic Southern Coleslaw
- Grilled Vegetables with Feta and Farro
- Grilled Summer Salad with Lime Dressing
- Fruity Tropical Planter’s Punch
Other Caribbean Jerk Recipes:
More Pork Shoulder Recipes:
Jerked Smoked Pork
- 1 5 pound boston butt aka pork shoulder
- 1 jar Walker's Wood Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
- hickory chips
- 1 12-oz bottle beer optional
- grill set up for direct and indirect cooking
For Coleslaw (optional)
- 1/2 head green cabbage
- 1 carrot
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
- soft hamburger rolls we like Martin's potato rolls
- At least 8-10 hours before cooking or preferably the night before, trim some of the fat cap off of the pork. Butterfly the pork so that it's in an even layer about 1-2 inches thick. With a sharp knife, poke holes about 1/2" deep all over the pork.
- Spread 1/2 the jar of jerk seasoning over the pork, pressing into the crannies. Flip pork and rub the remaining jerk seasoning into the pork. Place pork in a glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8-10 hours, or overnight.
- 1 hour before cooking, soak your wood chips. Place 2-3 cups of hickory chips in a bowl cover with water or half water/half beer. (Scott uses half a bottle of beer and half water to soak the chips. The remainder of the beer, he considers his spoils.)
- Create smoking pouches: Pile 1/3 of drained smoking chips in the center of a 12" piece of aluminum foil. Seal the packet by folding over the top and creasing the foil, then fold the ends up. Poke several holes in the packet. Make 2 additional smoking packets using the same technique.
- Set the foil packets on one side of the grill, directly on the elements (below the grates). Heat the grill on high until packets begin to smoke. Reduce heat to medium and place the pork on the grill opposite the wood chips - so that it's not getting direct heat.
- Smoke the pork for an hour, keeping the temperature between 350-375 degrees. For the last 15-20 minutes of cooking, move the pork directly over the flame at 375-400 degrees. Try to keep the lid closed most of the time, so you don't lose heat, but watch for flare ups. When meat is done (measured at about 185-190 degrees with a meat thermometer, remove to a platter, tent it with tin foil and let it rest for 10 minutes.
- To serve, slice pork thinly across the grain. Pile high onto rolls with coleslaw.
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