The following post is the full copy of our column from the January 16, 2013 edition of The Forum. Our column appears in the SheSays section every Wednesday, and you can also access past columns right here on the blog.
Before we opened Sarello’s twelve years ago, Tony and I spent nearly the entire decade of the 1990s working as hotel officers aboard luxury and expedition cruise ships. During this time, we were lucky enough to be somewhere beautiful nearly every day, and the weather was rarely inclement. Travel, sunshine and exotic locations were a routine part of our life.
But, with a business to run and a child to raise now, we find ourselves firmly rooted in Fargo these days. And, while we’re grateful for the opportunities we have here at home, we’d be lying if we didn’t admit that we sometimes miss those days at sea, especially during winter.
We have an arsenal of recipes that have been created as a direct result of our regionally-imposed vitamin D deficiency, and they never fail to lift our spirits or bring a little sunshine into our lives. And this week’s recipe for Jamaican Jerk Pork Tenderloin is no exception.
We featured this dish at a Caribbean-themed dinner party we held on a cold January night a couple years ago at Sarello’s, and it’s become a favorite in our family ever since. Tony and I visited Jamaica numerous times in our careers, where roadside jerk stands are ever-present, each one offering their own unique version of Jamaican Jerk specialties.
Jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica, which involves cooking pork or chicken in a dry rub or wet marinade with a mixture of hot spices known as Jamaican Jerk Spice. While the methods of preparation vary widely, most experts agree that there are three key ingredients to an authentic Jamaican Jerk recipe: allspice, thyme and the super-hot Scotch Bonnet pepper.
Jamaican Jerk is distinctive in its flavor, with various spices blending together to create a dish both savory and sweet. Traditionally, a Jamaican jerk sauce has a strong spicy kick but, for our purposes, we’ve adapted this recipe to make it more family-friendly by substituting Sambal chili paste for the Scotch Bonnet pepper. This change reduces the spicy heat quite a bit and provides a welcome acidity to the mix, thus making the recipe better suited for a wide variety of people.
We start with a whole pork tenderloin which we cut into half-inch pieces. We then use the scaloppine technique to pound the pork into tender cutlets about a quarter-inch in thickness (see instructions with recipe).
The cutlets are marinated for a minimum of two hours, or overnight if possible. The last step is to grill the meat, and in the winter months we use a grill pan on our stovetop which works just fine. If you don’t have a grill pan, you can sauté the cutlets in a frying pan with a little olive oil for about 5 minutes on each side.
Arrange the cutlets on a platter and cover with a generous portion of Pineapple Salsa just before serving. The pineapple is currently in season, and this salsa showcases its tart and tangy sweetness while providing a welcome burst of tropical sunshine to the dish. The salsa can be made two to three days in advance, adds brilliant color to the plate, and offers a great contrast to the hot, smoky spice of the Jamaican Jerk.
Serve this dish accompanied by Bob Marley tunes, a bottle of Red Stripe beer or a Jamaican-rum piña colada and enjoy a trip to Jamaica without even leaving your home.