Cricket World Cup: a Caribbean flavour

Related tags Barbecue Spice Caribbean

Let's put our cards on the table and admit that, for the most part, the flavours of the Caribbean are an area largely untapped by the pub trade in...

Let's put our cards on the table and admit that, for the most part, the flavours of the Caribbean are an area largely untapped by the pub trade in food terms. While rum is a staple of the back-bar, mention jerk chicken to the average pub cook and the chances are you'll get a pretty robust response.

Which is a shame, because far from being an implied criticism, jerk chicken is a signature dish of the Caribbean.

With flavours such as Cajun spices already a feature of many 'standard' pub menus, and an increasing number of operators running barbecue and charcoal grill menus seasonally and even year-round, it's highly likely that Caribbean-style cooking could go down well with pub customers.

The Cricket World Cup is a good opportunity to test this theory. If you've got a fridge full of Caribbean beer and a few jugs of rum punch chilling away nicely, it won't take much effort to turn the experience into a full-blown theme night with some food to match.

Let's start with the aforementioned jerk. Just what is it? While every chef will have a slightly different recipe, the basis is allspice, which is made with the Jamaican pepper, and Scotch bonnet, one of the hottest varieties of chilli pepper. These are combined with ingredients such as cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme, and garlic to create a dry rub, or sometimes a marinade.

Traditionally, pork was the meat most likely to be cooked with jerk seasoning, but it is now routinely used with chicken and fish. Vegetarian proteins such as tofu or Quorn can also be cooked with jerk spices.

Originally the meat would have been wrapped in banana leaves and cooked over an open fire, while in Jamaica today jerk meat is often cooked and sold from roadside ovens made from oil cans. For a pub, a charcoal grill or barbecue will give the authentic smoky flavour.

For authentic accompaniments, the cuisine of the West Indies reflects the region's history as a meeting point for traders from many cultures. Serve sweet potatoes, okra, green onions, yams or plantains, or try Jamaican hard dough bread or fried dumplings, sometimes called Johnny cakes and made with milk and butter.

Ben Bartlett's Caribbean cookery school

Ben Bartlett, catering development manager of Marston's Pub Company and The Publican's current Food Champion, says "a lot of Caribbean dishes are prepared well in advance to absorb all the flavours of exotic spices and many use a dry or wet Jamaican Jerk spice rub." Barbecue specialist Ben shares his own secret recipes with readers of The Publican:

Dry Jerk Rub


1 bunch chopped spring onions

2 habanero peppers, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 freshly squeezed lime

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

2 teaspoons ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch salt


Combine all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth and transfer to a container with a tightly fitting lid. This blend of spices may be made up to one week in advance and should be kept refrigerated.

Wet Jerk Rub


1 chopped onion

1 bunch spring onion (diced)

4 hot peppers, finely chopped

2 teaspoons dried thyme

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg


Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Store in an airtight container, keep refrigerated for up to one month.

Ben, being a barbecue aficionado, would naturally brave a tropical hurricane to cook al fresco, but if March seems a little optimistic for the average pub to be planning an event in the Great Outdoors, a gas char-grill or slow roasting over charcoal will create a similar effect.

Jerk pork spare ribs with barbecue sauce

Suitable cuts: Pork spare ribs or spare rib chops

Serves: 10

Cooking time: 30 minutes


2.5kg Pork spare ribs or spare rib chops

75g Jamaican jerk seasoning

100ml Olive oil

30ml Sunflower oil

300g Onion, finely diced

20g Garlic puree

250g Mushrooms, diced

350ml Tomato ketchup

100ml Worcestershire sauce

15g English mustard


1. Mix the Jamaican jerk seasoning and olive oil together and toss the pork spare ribs (or 2-4 spare rib chops, cut into thick chunky strips) in the mixture until well coated and place onto baking tray. Cook in a preheated oven at gas mark 6/200ÞC for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, make the barbecue sauce. Heat 5ml oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion and garlic for two to three minutes. Add the mushrooms and fry for two minutes. Add the tomato ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, English mustard and 150ml water, bring to the boil and simmer for two minutes.

Recipe from: BPEX

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