Chew Street in Jamaica + Make Your Own Jerk

Last month, I had the opportunity to escape the cold and visit the beautiful island of Jamaica.   Jamaica has a rich culinary history and I was eager to explore the local food scene.  

We stayed at the Royalton White Sands Resort in Montego Bay.  This all inclusive resort had tons of amenities but was still small enough to be intimate.  They incorporated authentic Jamaican cuisine into their daily menu offerings, along with a daily lunchtime jerk cook out on the beach.

The Royalton is minutes away from the historic town of Falmouth. Founded in 1769, Falmouth is a port town, with a history of bustling food and commercial markets.  It also happens to be home to William Knibb High School, where Usain Bolt - the world’s fastest man - started his running career.  I explored this town with Anne and Janet Crick, the sisters behind Jamaica Culinary Tours.  Anne and Janet offer small group tours highlighting the best of local cuisine.  I’m a huge fan of culinary tours and seek them out wherever I travel.  The best culinary tours are an adventurous mix of history lesson, photowalk, and food tasting and Jamaica Culinary Tours fits the bill.  Our group wandered the streets of historic Falmouth, getting insights on the history of the region, and tasting jerk, local baked goods and coconut candies.  The team at Jamaica Culinary Tours are personable, upbeat and brimming with facts about all aspects of the region.  I left the tour with a deeper appreciation for Jamaica's history, food, and culture.

I wanted  to bring back a taste of Jamaica to my Toronto kitchen so I took a hand at making my own jerk sauce.  I picked up a copy of Jamaican Cookery: Recipes from Old Jamaican Grandmothers  Published in 1982, this book is filled with old school Jamaican goodness.  Jerk seasoning is one of Jamaica's most popular exports and most of us can buy it any grocery store.  However, you would be surprised how easy it is to make at home.  After making my first batch, I may not get store bought again!  I prepared Jerk Lamb for Easter dinner but you can jerk any meat you like, tofu, and even vegetables.  Try making your own jerk sauce at home and, when you travel to Jamaica tell Anne and Janet I said hi!

Jerk Lamb

Jerk Seasoning

6 green onions

1 teaspoon ground cinamon

2 ounces ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

4 scotch bonnet peppers (seeds removed)

¼ cup brown sugar

Chop green onions.  Slice scotch bonnet peppers in half and remove seeds.  Wash hands thoroughly after handling peppers.  Combine all ingredients except lamb in a food processor until they form a paste.  Rub jerk paste into lamb. and marinate overnight.  Roast in oven at 325 degrees farenheit.  Your cooking time will vary based on your cut of lamb, anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes.  Use your meat thermometer to guage when to remove your lamb from the oven.  Medium well lamb will have an internal temperature of 160 degrees fahrenheit.  Well done lamb will be 170 degrees.