Jamaican Jerk Turkey
This Caribbean pepper is famous for being the hottest chile pepper in the world. They come in a variety of shapes and colors (yellow, orange, green, red, chocolate). Not only are they extremely hot, but they also have a unique, distinctively fruity flavor. It is the key ingredient in the popular Jamaican Jerk sauce. The habanero is also widely used in many different types of hot sauces. The popularity of this chile pepper continues to grow and is becoming easier to find on the grocery shelf.
5 onions (approximately 400 grams)
4 cups chopped scallions/green onions
8 stalks fresh thyme
9 cloves of garlic (approximately 40g)
¼ cup allspice berries or 1 ½ tsp ground allspice
2 whole Scotch Bonnet peppers /substitute with habaneros (with seeds)
1 tbsp chopped ginger
1 tbsp black peppercorns or 1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp grated nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp brown sugar
5 tsp fine sea salt (for a 6kg turkey, less if substituting with table salt)
½ cup cooking oil (a plain oil like sunflower)
1 tbsp distilled cane vinegar
cornstarch to thicken gravy
Method for Jerk Seasoning
Set salt aside and do not combine with the seasoning.
If using whole allspice berries and black peppercorns, dry roast them in a frying pan until the pan starts to smoke. Remove from heat, and grind the spices in a spice grinder. Combine with all other dry spices and set aside.
In a blender, puree the onions, thyme, garlic, ginger, peppers and vinegar, and oil. Add the dry spices and pulse until incorporated.
Add scallions and pulse several times to shred, careful to not blend them or they will render the seasoning bitter.
Pour the mixture into a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to fully combine.
Method to Roast Jerk Turkey
Clean the turkey and pat it dry, removing innards and any plastic ties for the legs. Keep the neck.
Apply jerk seasoning liberally to your turkey. Make sure to get it into every nook and cranny of the cavities and inside the neck cavity and chest area. Season neck as well. Add any excess marinade to the grooves of the wings and legs and on top of the breast. Cover with aluminum foil and return to the refrigerator.
3 hours before cooking time, remove the turkey from fridge and add salt all over and inside the cavities. Replace cover and leave on top of kitchen counter to come to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 260C /500F.
Grease roasting pan with oil. Tuck the wing tips under the turkey and truss the legs together. Tying the legs together is essential for even roasting.
Place the turkey bottom-side-down in the center of the roasting pan. Place in the center of the oven and cook 30 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 130 C / 265F.
After the turkey has been in the oven for one hour, turn it to compensate for any hot spots in the oven and to ensure even browning.
Bake for 2- 2.5 hours or until the deepest part of the breast gives a reading of 70 C/ 161 F. Remove from the oven to rest for at least 30 minutes. Despite your eagerness to pinch, let the bird rest in peace. Literally! That’s what the neck is for. Grab your phone, take your best shot and brag about it on Instagram. Carve the meat against the grain.
To make a tasty pan gravy, cook excess marinade and add pan drippings. Strain, then skim excess oil. Return to stove and stir continuously. Thicken with a runny paste of cornstarch and water to desired consistency.
Allow the turkey to rest before carving. It’s best to carve just slightly warm or even cold (if you like cold food) for the best results.