Jerk pork and wild rice salad

Jerk is a bit of a favourite Chez Highbury, all thanks to the amazing Yam the Cassava, much beloved of all Jamaican food fans who we join in their pilgrimage to their stall at Glastonbury each year to eat curry goat, plantain, festival and jerk chicken and mutton (yes, we’re there for the festival too, but do not underestimate the draw of this stall!). Matt eats there every meal he can.

Jerk has become a firm favourite at home too, especially at our birthday barbecue. I use the jerk recipe from Hugh F-W’s River Cottage Meat Book (p405). It’s really easy to make and tastes fantastic.

All the ingredients for the paste (salt, peppercorns, allspice berries, mace, cinnamon, onion, thyme, bay, Scotch bonnets) are either ground in the ex-coffee grinder, or whizzed up in my handblender jug, and then the whole lot thrown in together for a final combining burst.

I made a batch of paste a couple of weeks ago for some chicken thighs and the rest was plonked in a screw-top jar where it will live happily in the fridge for a good few weeks.

This week I marinaded some pork shoulder earlier this week for about 48 hours, and then cooked it in the oven for about 45 minutes. Since the oven was on, I roasted a pepper in there too.

While they were baking, I cooked a packet of wild rice (which I found from reading the packet is a grass, not rice at all) and some brown rice in separate pans. I chopped 3 spring onions, a 2 inch piece of deseeded cucumber and half an avocado. Once the pepper was blackened, I skinned, deseeded and chopped that.

The wild rice box was more than just a mine of information about this so-called rice, it also suggested cooking the whole 250g box at once and freezing the excess for later, which is smart – I think the 40-50 minute cooking time is why the box has sat in the cupboard for so long. So when the wild rice was cooked (after about 40 minutes) I dumped three quarters into 3 freezer bags, squeezed the air out, closed them and left them to cool before putting them in the freezer.

All that remained was to toss everything round in a big bowl with a lug of e.v. olive oil- easy as that!

The jerk paste is pretty spicy, so the avocado and cucumber provided a cooling contrast to the pork, and the wild rice/grass was lovely and nutty. Next time I’ll add another pepper for colour as well as flavour, and maybe some halved cherry or baby plum tomatoes.

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