Wonderful friends of ours live a couple of hours away and have access to numerous varieties of ethnic cuisine. Thriving ethnic communities with distinct identities and sumptuous food culture pepper the residential areas close by and allow my friends the option of sampling these delights every now and again. One place that they rave about on account of the “amazing gravy”, has become a by-word for spice and home-cooked soul food and I haven’t even been there! I was the grateful recipient of a jar of their sauce which can be used in a number of ways including as the base for a rich and spicy gravy.
As I said, my cultured friends of food live a couple of hours away and I’m not prepared to drive there and back every time I run out of this special sauce. That was part of the motivation behind my attempt to create a really strong marinade that could perhaps take the place of the amazing gravy. It’s taken a few weeks of trial and error, but I think I’ve made a recipe for a very potent and versatile sauce. It’s easy to make and I reckon it would work with chicken as well as pork.
Jerk pork roast.
1-1.5kg pork shoulder
110g soft light brown sugar
As much all spice powder as you can stand
8 cloves garlic
1 bunch spring onions (chopped)
2 red chillies (chopped)
Large chunk of fresh root ginger
2 tblspoons soy sauce
2 tspoons salt
1/2 tspoon cinnamon
1/2 tspoon ground nutmeg
I used a hand blender to combine all of the ingredients into a thick, strong-smelling mixture. I made cuts into the pork and wore a pair of gloves to rub the mixture into it. The combination of garlic and chillies have the potential to really make your hands stink so it’s worth wearing some thin plastic gloves. I made sure that the sauce was worked into every part of the meat and I left a really thick covering all over. I wrapped the whole shoulder in cling film and put it in the fridge for twenty-four hours.
I brought the meat back up to room temperature for an hour before cooking. I roasted the pork uncovered at 230 degrees for half an hour and then lowered the temperature to 160 degrees. I cooked it for another hour. Normally, I would have taken the meat out after an hour and a half or so. However, the sun was blazing and the dog needed walking and I had to think quickly. I turned the oven down to 75 degrees and went out. When I got back an hour later, I tentatively lifted the pork out of the oven and inspected it. Sure enough, it had a thick, black, crusty coating as I’d hoped. The sugar had caramelized to form a casing over the meat and had prevented flavoursome juices from escaping. There was hardly anything in the bottom of the roasting tin so it was lucky that I hadn’t planned on making gravy from the pan juices. Upon cutting into the pork I found it was cooked all the way through and luxuriously moist! I’ve included an exclamation mark there because I was genuinely surprised. I’d expected the meat to be dried out and tough.
Carving the pork was a joy and I dished it up with roasted sweet potatoes and sweetcorn. I don’t know if it’s authentic, but it was very tasty. I cut off some of the fat from the pork into strips and threw them in with the sweet potatoes to crisp them up and add flavour. I have to say, that I’m looking forward to using the marinade on some chicken thighs and serving them with rice.