You Be the Judge335
with Mike Johnston
BBQ Jamaican Jerk
It was Thanksgiving of 2016 when inspiration struck. Instead of being at home with our families, Janet and I were in Grenada, the small island renowned for its nutmeg and cacao in the south of the Caribbean. Finding turkey, yet alone the rest of the fixin's, wasn’t in the cards, but life dealt us a new, but familiar flavor: jerk chicken. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, this Savory Spice guy sure likes his jerk chicken (read about our Jamaican quest to perfect our Jerk Seasoning)! And you’re right, I do. But like I said, this jerk flavor was new.
The more we’ve traveled in the Caribbean the clearer it’s become that Jamaican Jerk isn’t just a Jamaican flavor, it’s a Caribbean flavor. Back when we visited Barbados in 2013 on our Pursuit of Bajan we discovered how closely the two are related. That said, jerk is easily the king of Caribbean flavors.
What made this jerk flavor new wasn’t some new exotic spice added to the seasoning combination, nor was it how the gentleman grilled the chicken. No, what made it interesting and new was the sweet American BBQ sauce that he slathered on the finished jerk chicken. I remember tasting it and looking at Janet and saying “I gotta make a version of this!” And the seed was planted for Sweet Jerk Barbecue Sauce.
With assistance from Baker and Ash, my test kitchen managers, we found just the right formula for a sweet barbecue sauce to build the jerk flavors into. Sometimes when we are working on a new product it takes months to get it right and other times we nail it right out of the gate. This was one of those “right out of the gate” times. I got the base flavor where I wanted it. Baker added some allspice which took it to the next level, and then Ash balanced it out with some cider vinegar. With just a hint of heat and notes of bright citrus and warm allspice, it was good. Really good.
So good, that we decided to put it to the test and enter it into the Specialty Sauce category of this year’s American Royal World Series of Barbecue Sauce Contest. The contest was judged this past May and, while we didn’t win, we did come in a very respectable 15th place in our category. We were all quite proud of that result, which was highlighted by a perfect score from one of the judges!
What I learned during my Chasing Barbecue road trip back in 2015 was that barbecue is a very subjective art form. And of course, it almost always comes down to your personal preferences. So, stop on by your local Savory Spice or hit us up online and judge our new Sweet Jerk sauce for yourself. Try it soon because as of now, it is a limited time offer (available until July 31, 2018). But hey, if we get enough perfect scores from you all we might have to change that!
In the meantime, I hope you Live Life Full this summer. Firing up the grill is an easy way to do just that!