This quicker version of Jamaican Jerk Pork skips the fuss but keeps the big, bold flavors.
The truly authentic version of jerk pork is grilled over pimento (allspice) wood, and takes quite a bit of time (sometimes days with all of the fancy steps).
This version is easier and still boasts those characteristic Jamaican flavors – that warm earthiness from allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The pineapple salsa brings that good ol’ tropical feeling. And for an extra special treat, right before serving, we sprinkle just a bit of sugar over the top and broil it for a few minutes to create a sticky, sweet crust.
What makes this quicker and easier?
The marinade works fast on pork tenderloin ‘cutlets’ (slice the tenderloin into 1-inch rounds). While it marinates, cut up some pineapple (or buy pre-cut), slice some red onion, and tear up cilantro or parsley.
When everything is ready, the meat and marinade are poured into a skillet, and they cook for a couple minutes then get flipped. Pineapple is added to the pan, along with some sugar, and you can finish it on the stove top for just another few minutes, or in the oven to get that sticky crust I mentioned earlier.
That’s it, it’s ready… and addicting.
Pork + Marinade
- 1 lb pork tenderloin
- 1 Tbs peanut or mild oil
- 1 Tbs soy sauce
- 1 lime zest & juice
- 1/2 red onion, small
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 pinch cloves
- 1 pineapple, medium
- 1/2 red onion, small, diced
- 2 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
- 1 cup dry white wine* or broth
- 2 Tbs turbinado or demerara sugar**
MARINATE THE PORK
- Place all of the ingredients for the marinade (except the pork!) in a food processor, including the 1/2 onion and zest + juice of the lime. Process until it’s a paste.
Slice the pork tenderloin into 1 inch rounds. Put the pork and all of the marinade into a plastic bag. Remove the air, seal it, and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
PREP THE SALSA
- Cut the pineapple and other 1/2 of the onion. Chop the herbs. Set aside.
READY TO COOK – QUICK TIMING
- The timing moves very fast after we start cooking the pork. Make sure you have the following things ready (no really, have it ready or the pork will overcook!): The cut pineapple, diced 1/2 red onion, muscovado sugar, hot pads.
- Set your oven to broil. Then heat a cast iron skillet (or stainless steel if you don’t have cast iron) over medium-high heat on the stove. When the pan is hot, we’ll cook the pork.
- Remove pork cuts from the bag one at a time, salting each side, and then place them in the skillet so they start to sear. Be careful of hot splatter on contact. Do NOT discard the bag of marinade.
- After 2-3 minutes, the pork should be seared on one side. Flip them and then:— Pour the marinade from the bag into the pan (not over the top of the pork, we want to keep that crispy side dry now)
— Add the pineapple and onions in right away as well, around the pork
— Pour the sugar over the pork cutlets and a little over the pineapple
— Immediately move the pan to the oven, under the broiler
- Cook under the broiler for 3 minutes or so, until the pork is cooked to the desired temperature. If you take it out too soon, you can just finish it on the stove.
FINISH & SERVE
- Remove the pork from the pan, set aside on a plate.
- Put the pan back on a burner over medium-high heat. Pour the wine into the pan and deglaze it (scrape up all of the crispy tasty bits from the bottom of the pan). Mixing it all in with the pineapple. Let the wine cook off for a few minutes.
- Serve pork next to the pineapple salsa and the sauce from the pan. Garnish with cilantro and parsley.
Recipe notes for Jamaican Jerk Pork
What is demerara and turbinado sugar?
Demerara and Turbinado sugar have larger crystals and are relatively unprocessed when compared to regular sugar or brown sugar. For this recipe, the larger crystals keep the sugar from totally dissolving into the moisture already on the meat. This allows it to more readily crisp up under the broiler.
But you can totally use brown sugar instead and it will create a sweet glaze that is just as tasty. Hey, I like to be honest! If you want to try to get fancy and master the sugar-crust-under-the-broiler-method though, give the larger sugar crystals a shot.
- This recipe is perfect for dinner guests, but not too many! Everything can be marinated and cut up ahead of time. When you want to make dinner, it will take a max of 10 minutes, that’s it! A regular 10 or 12″ skillet will hold enough for 4 people. More than that and the pan will be too crowded, so you’d want to use TWO pans in that case.
- Other cuts of pork: you can use other pork cuts. If they are larger, increase the time you let them marinate, and adjust the cooking time as needed.
The first version came from a photocopy from a friend and I don’t know the source. It required pounding a different cut of pork and cooking it for much longer. The pineapple had its own cooking steps with separate timing.
In an effort to simplify the recipe and speed it up, I used the pork tenderloin cut into rounds. I also found that adding the pineapple to the pan not only made this recipe easier, but the pineapple was delicious when mixed with some of the pan flavors.
Lastly, I always broiled this to get a nice finish on the pork and pineapple. However, in the May-June 2017 issue of Milk Street Kitchen, they had a recipe for pork with orange and sage. In there, they described this turbinado sugar-glaze process. It was the perfect finish to this dish.