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Jerk Pork: not a fail, exactly, but any suggestions?

TheophanTheophan Posts: 2,309
I love jerk, have made many jerk dishes and loved them, but this one hasn't gone well twice.  One thing is clear: I over cooked it a little.  My wife likes meat more well done than I, and I thought I could cook it to 160° and have it be OK for me, but it was a little dry, and next time I'm going to go for 150° and see if she hates it (and if she does, maybe I'll microwave some for her to make it more done.)

But I'm still puzzled, and am interested in any suggestions you all might have.  The recipe came from a jerk cookbook I bought a number of years ago, Jerk - Barbecue from Jamaica, by Helen Willinsky.  I've made a few recipes from it that I LOVE.  But this one, for "Jerk Butterflied Pork Loin" hasn't gone well twice, now.

The first time, I tried following her directions as exactly as I could.  She wants you to butterfly a pork loin, marinate it in a jerk paste or marinade, and then:
When the coals have burned down and are medium hot, place the pork on the grill with foil under it to catch the drippings.  The roast should cook over medium coals for approximately 2 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 150 to 160 F.
This was years ago, so I don't remember, but I had a slow fire, I'm guessing 250° direct, trying to emulate a direct jerk fire in Jamaica.  I don't remember the internal temp that first time, but when I checked it after 2h, it was already WAY overdone!

OK, so this time I decided I'd do a reverse sear.  My main problem was that I cooked it to around 160°, so I won't do that again.  But two questions remain:
  1. It wasn't super flavorful.  It was really good, you could taste the marinade, my wife liked it a lot, but most of the time when I make some jerk, you can taste the jerk flavors a lot more.  Now, I didn't butterfly it, because I was scared based on the previous experience that a thinner sheet of lean pork loin would overcook really, really quickly, and not get any smoke flavor.  But still, I marinated it around 30 hours.  I boiled down the marinade and had it as sort of a relish or thick sauce with the pork, and it was really good.  But still, I was expecting more flavor without having to add extra sauce.
  2. The cooking method.  Again, she wants me to butterfly the pork, then grill it direct over "medium coals for approximately 2 hours."  A butterflied pork loin is going to be as thin or thinner than some hamburgers! I just can't picture cooking a relatively thin sheet of very lean pork over ANY coals for 2 hours and not have it overdone and dry as leather.
Any ideas?

Again, it was actually quite good, and my wife liked it a lot, but I had high hopes, and I was pretty disappointed.  Not a fail, exactly, but still, a disappointment.  A few photos to prove it happened.  :)  Here it is just as it went on for the low-and-slow part of the cook, after about 30h marinating (and I checked the IT several places with my Thermapen -- the Maverick was just to get me in the ballpark):



Here it is in the sear phase:



And sliced:


Comments

  • bgebrentbgebrent Posts: 17,542
    A couple thoughts.  First, your wife liked it a lot...winner!  I’d try butterflying it, applying your jerk, then rolling it back into a roast and tying it up with twine. Marinade a while. Pull it at 145.  It will finish at 155 which should be good for you both.  Cook it at 350 indirect and don’t look back.  I believe this will solve the issues brother.
    Sandy Springs & Dawsonville Ga
  • cookingdude555cookingdude555 Posts: 1,793
    I lived in Jamaica for a few years and have had, and made some good jerk.  Personally I like having a little char on it, so I mix in some direct grilling there too.  People get caught up on making sure the jerk is authentic, I say cook it the way you like.  No one in Jamaica will arrest you if it isn't quite exact.  I think cooking it past 145 is just going to make the meat too dry.  I like Steven Raichlens pork tenderloin recipe (double butterfly).  Its not exactly like I remember, but its good, and I use a lot of habaneros (no scotch bonnets in my neck of the woods), and it gets the heat right:

    https://barbecuebible.com/recipe/jerk-pork-tenderloin/

    John - SLC, UT

    2 XLs, Large, Medium, MM, and Mini

  • bgebrentbgebrent Posts: 17,542
    I lived in Jamaica for a few years and have had, and made some good jerk.  Personally I like having a little char on it, so I mix in some direct grilling there too.  People get caught up on making sure the jerk is authentic, I say cook it the way you like.  No one in Jamaica will arrest you if it isn't quite exact.  I think cooking it past 145 is just going to make the meat too dry.  I like Steven Raichlens pork tenderloin recipe (double butterfly).  Its not exactly like I remember, but its good, and I use a lot of habaneros (no scotch bonnets in my neck of the woods), and it gets the heat right:

    https://barbecuebible.com/recipe/jerk-pork-tenderloin/

    I agree with charred finish.  More authentic and tasty.  Go from indirect to direct.  Still pull at 145.
    Sandy Springs & Dawsonville Ga
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 11,843
    tl;dr ... But if doing a pork loin, it's dead at 160. 

    Do whatever you want for the spice rub, etc and pull at 140ish tops. 

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 11,843
    But... If your wife digs it, don't change a damnn thang

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • bgebrentbgebrent Posts: 17,542
    caliking said:
    But... If your wife digs it, don't change a damnn thang
    I pull at 140 too Ashish, was hoping 145 would be the compromise cook.  Looking forward to @Theophan’s cook.
    Sandy Springs & Dawsonville Ga
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 11,843
    bgebrent said:
    caliking said:
    But... If your wife digs it, don't change a damnn thang
    I pull at 140 too Ashish, was hoping 145 would be the compromise cook.  Looking forward to @Theophan’s cook.
    If swaying SWBO is the matter at hand, I say bring her over to the right side over the course of a couple of cooks. Pull at 155°F one time. Then 150°F the next. And so on. Until you can pull it at 140ish and let it rest to get the right IT. 

    Eventually you may win her over :)

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • YukonRonYukonRon Posts: 13,366
    Would brining help a pork loin for moistness? I have brined chops, because of a similar situaton of My Beautiful Wife and her fear of a lower IT for pork.....The brine helps the chops retain moisture on the BGE. 
    Is there a recipe for SV? Then toss on the BGE to char?
    "Knowledge is Good" - Emil Faber

    XL and MM
    Louisville, Kentucky
  • CarolinaCrazyCarolinaCrazy Posts: 582
    YukonRon said:
    Would brining help a pork loin for moistness? I have brined chops, because of a similar situaton of My Beautiful Wife and her fear of a lower IT for pork.....The brine helps the chops retain moisture on the BGE. 
    Is there a recipe for SV? Then toss on the BGE to char?

    Yes brining would definitely help and add moisture and flavor (add some crushed garlic, allspice, black pepper to the brine for some Jerk like flavor.

    @bgebrent suggestion of butterflying - that will increase the sauce flavor.



    1 LBGE in Chapel Hill, NC
  • EoinEoin Posts: 2,056
    I always do pork loin (fillet) direct, with each loin cut in half.  2 loins / 4 pieces fits perfectly on the MMX.  350 - 400F and keep turning to get the finish right / up to IT. 

    For seasoning, I use Tropical Sun jerk paste - HOT.  I usually mix this with some Gochujang paste as the stickiness of this gives a better / more even coating.
  • TheophanTheophan Posts: 2,309
    MANY thanks for all of the very helpful suggestions!  I do think I'm going to try pulling at 150° next time, and will offer her end pieces and those nearest the end, and see how that goes.  I don't think I've ever cooked pork only to a 140° internal temp, but if the 150° also seems a bit overdone, I might try it.

    The idea of butterflying and making sort of a rolled roast with the jerk paste inside was very interesting!  Might try that sometime!  I love the idea of those "pork roulades" recipes, but my wife finds the idea of cheese oozing out of something completely gross, so that's out, and I like spinach, but I'm a little scared of dark, leafy greens because they're loaded with oxalates, and I've had many calcium oxalate kidney stones.  But this doesn't have either of those things!

    I don't know if there's any confusion about the terms, but I want to be clear which one I cooked and am asking about.  Many people use the word "tenderloin" for what is not tenderloin, but loin.  Just like beef, pork tenderloins are very much smaller thickness than pork loin, very much more tender, but in some ways not as flavorful as loin.  I like tenderloin, but I usually prefer loin.  I'm not sure what "pork loin (fillet)" is, but, thinking about how beef tenderloin is often called "filet mignon," I'm guessing that a pork "fillet" probably isn't loin, but tenderloin.  I don't know.  What I cooked last night was not tenderloin, but loin.  (The picture I grabbed from a blog, "Peg's Home Cooking.")




    caliking said:
    tl;dr ... But if doing a pork loin, it's dead at 160...  But... If your wife digs it, don't change a damnn thang
    OK, I'll bite: what do "tl" and "dr" mean?  :)  And I'm with you on making my wife happy!  Always a good idea.  She does consistently prefer poultry and meat in general cooked more done than I, but I've gradually gotten her to enjoy chicken breasts that are not pink, but still, juicy.  So there may be hope yet for juicy pork as well.

    Again thanks EVERYBODY for the chorus of very helpful suggestions!




  • bweekesbweekes Posts: 725
    I don't mean to turn this one on its head, but have you considered trying fist-sized shoulder chunks? IMO (and I've cooked a lot of jerk pork), the fat content makes for an authentic finished product. Also, the smaller size of the chunks allows more surface area for the jerk marinade (I always use Walkerswood BTW). I find lower temp, direct heat is best for jerk pork. that's why i usually do it on the joetisserie, but get good results raised direct as well. Hope that helps . 
    Ajax, ON Canada
    (XL BGE, MED BGE, La Caja China #2, and the wife's Napoleon gasser)
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 11,843
    edited April 30
    Theophan said:
    caliking said:
    tl;dr ... But if doing a pork loin, it's dead at 160...  But... If your wife digs it, don't change a damnn thang
    OK, I'll bite: what do "tl" and "dr" mean?  :)  And I'm with you on making my wife happy!  Always a good idea.  She does consistently prefer poultry and meat in general cooked more done than I, but I've gradually gotten her to enjoy chicken breasts that are not pink, but still, juicy.  So there may be hope yet for juicy pork as well.

    Again thanks EVERYBODY for the chorus of very helpful suggestions!




     "Too long; didn't read". :smiley:
    Sorry was just being ornery.

    To clarify, pull at 140, as the IT  will rise a few degrees as it rests. 

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • TheophanTheophan Posts: 2,309
    caliking said:
     "Too long; didn't read". :smiley:
    Sorry was just being ornery.
    No problem -- I'm way too longwinded.  My fault!  :)
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