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Hankering to Put Some Ribs on the Barbie?

Try my Jamaican Jerk Barbecue Ribs

My husband and I traveled to Jamaica, where we stopped at a roadside stand to try Jamaican-style jerk ribs. They were mouthwatering—sweet, salty, and spicy with a bit of a kick. “Jerk pan men”, as they are referred to in Jamaica, convert oil drums into smokers and sell their delicious, jerked meat from colorful, makeshift shacks. The smoky taste of their jerked meat is achieved by grilling it over hardwood charcoal in these steel drum called “jerk pans.” I wish I had taken a picture, but I didn’t. I found a picture online to show you what the oil drums look like.

Jerk is a style of cooking that refers to the way meat is seasoned, smoked, and grilled. Meat, usually chicken or pork, is either dry-rubbed or marinated with a hot spice mixture, which includes onion, hot chiles, thyme, allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

Upon returning home, I created the following recipe to bring a touch of Jamaica to our dinner table. I didn’t convert an oil drum into a smoker. I cooked my ribs in the oven on a low temperature for two hours, then put them on the barbie. The Jamaicans like to use Scotch bonnet peppers or pimento peppers, which are difficult to find in my neck of the woods, so I substituted jalapeños. If you like things hot, use habaneros.

If you are hankering to put something on the barbie this weekend, try my Jamaican Jerk Barbecue Ribs.

Jamaican Jerk Barbecued Ribs Serves 4

For the marinade: 1 white onion, finely chopped 2 jalapeños (habaneros—if you like it hot) peppers, minced 2 teaspoons dried thyme 1 ½ tablespoons sugar 1 teaspoon ground allspice ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon large grind black pepper 3 tablespoons soy sauce 1 tablespoon white vinegar 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 4 pounds pork spareribs In a small bowl, combine, onion, jalapeños, thyme, sugar, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, pepper, soy sauce, and white and red wine vinegars and whisk to blend. Coat the ribs evenly on both sides with marinade. Place ribs in a baking dish, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. To precook ribs before grilling: Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Place ribs in a roasting pan and cover the roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 2 hours.

1 ½ cups of your favorite barbecue sauce Preheat an outdoor grill to medium high. Place the ribs on the grill and cook for about 5 minutes on each side, until browned and slightly charred. Baste ribs with barbecue sauce while they brown.

Place ribs on a cutting board and cut the ribs between the bones. Place the bones in a large bowl and toss with additional barbecue sauce.

Tips on selecting pork: Pork products are often injected with water, broth, salt, and extra flavorings. I avoid buying injected pork. To determine if pork is injected, read the ingredient label. Ingredients should be only pork. You may find the words “extra tender” and “juicy” on injected pork. It will also be high in sodium. If the nutritional label indicates a higher sodium count than 100 mg, the pork has been injected. Injected pork will contain too much liquid and may be difficult to sear. Once cooked, the meat may seem mushy and spongy. With the price of meat these days, who wants to pay for water? Carol Ann

Carol Ann Kates is the award-winning author of cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market and Grocery Shopping Secrets. She’s an expert in how to shop, select, and store produce for maximizing home cooking outcomes and minimizing time and money spent. As a former supermarket and deli operator, Carol Ann shares grocery-insider wisdom—the same expertise you used to receive when patronizing a mom-and-pop establishment. Contact her at and explore her website,

Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved Carol Ann Kates

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