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Jerk-Spiced Duck

Jerk-Spiced Duck

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Duck has an unfair reputation for being fussy, but not this recipe. We bathe it in a spiced (nutmeg, allspice) and spicy (habanero) marinade, stick it in the oven, ignore it for five hours, and serve it with fixings for build-it-yourself tacos. FYI: Many butchers stock only frozen duck, so make sure to call ahead and pick it up two days before cooking so it can defrost. Plus, a single-edge razor blade, which is very thin and sharp, works particularly well for scoring the duck skin and fat.


  • 16 habanero chiles, stems removed
  • ½ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 2" pieces ginger, scrubbed, crushed
  • Hoisin sauce, small flour tortillas, sliced Napa cabbage, sliced scallions, julienned peeled ginger, sliced serrano chiles, mint sprigs, cilantro sprigs, and lime wedges (for serving)

Special Equipment

  • A razor blade and a spice mill or mortar and pestle

Recipe Preparation

  • Lightly score skin of both ducks using a clean razor blade, cutting most of the way through skin and fat but not into flesh below (a very sharp, thin knife will also work). Season ducks generously with salt and place each one in a large resealable plastic bag.

  • Finely grind allspice in spice mill or with mortar and pestle and place in a blender. Finely grate nutmeg into blender. Add habanero chiles (we recommend keeping the seeds in as the ducks’ fat will keep it from absorbing too much heat), soy sauce, rum, vinegar, and sugar. Purée until smooth. Divide marinade between bags; add a piece of ginger to each. Seal bags, pressing out air, and work marinade around to coat ducks. Chill, breast side down, 12 hours.

  • Preheat oven to 450°. Remove ducks from marinade and place, breast side up, on a wire rack set inside a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet (don’t worry about any marinade that may be inside ducks; it will add flavor as they cook). Roast ducks just until beginning to brown, 10–12 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 250° and continue to roast until ducks are very dark brown, leg joints wiggle freely when flexed, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of breasts registers 195°, 4½–5 hours. Let rest 30 minutes before shredding.

  • To serve, pile meat on hoisin-slicked tortillas and top with cabbage, scallions, ginger, serrano chiles, mint, and cilantro as desired; squeeze lime wedges over.

Reviews SectionPut the duck in for 5 hours at the temperature indicated in the oven. It never reached 195F, we took it out at 170F (minimum internal temperature for the duck is 165-170F). The duck ended up being too dry. I think the 195F is a typo, which is a shame, because it kind of ruined the duck.I made this for dinner last Christmas Eve and it was such a hit! I followed the recipe exactly, except omitted the habaneros because we don't do spicy. The duck came out perfectly tender, juicy, and shreddable in the time suggested. We made our own mini-flour tortillas, which came out kind of thick and bao-like. All together, the meal very much resembled a cheater Peking duck, which was completely awesome!Made this for New Year's Eve party, and guests asked for it to be a regular menu item each year! You want internal temp high enough for shredding, but I pulled my birds around 185F - 190F. Tender and juicy, I shredded one duck and served the other whole for people to pull apart themselves. Bao buns were great addition, along with fresh accouterments!AnonymousPhiladelphia, PA01/08/19I suspect that the internal temperature is a typo. My experience with roasting duck tells me it should be 165-170, not 195. Can the editors please review and correct as indicated?Lisa SaundersBay Area12/28/18Good intro to cooking duck, enjoyed the marinade and the ducks look really impressive pulling out of the oven for a party.A couple of notes1) For a Saturday party I bought the duck on Tuesday, then let them defrost in the fridge for a day. On Wednesday I removed the ducks from the packaging, scored the skin, heavily salted them, covered in plastic wrap, and let them sit in the fridge until marinading them on Friday. Then started the cooking on Saturday morning2) You will need a 2 or 2.5 gallon zip lock for marinading3) There is something wrong with the cook time or temp. 5 hours for 2 ducks at 250 (including the first 10-12 min at 450) is not enough to reach an internal temp of 195. I put convection on at the 3.5 hour mark and they got to ~187 at about 5 hours and 15 min. I pulled them out at that point.4) Instead of serving with tacos I bought frozen baos from the local Asian market.5) The recipe suggests a lot of fixings to go along with the duck for the tacos, I would only put out 3 from the list so you don't spend too much time/money on sides. I would skip the ginger for sure.6) Pay attention to the yield of 8.After five hours my duck was at 174. I ended up cooking for an extra hour and got it to 190 and took it out. It was quite dry. I wonder if the goal temperature was misprinted and is supposed to be 175? It was tasty, but we definitely needed lots of hoisin on the tacos to combat the dryness of the duck!hewitt_aVancouver 12/16/18

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  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon McCormick Gourmet™ Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
  • 4 boneless pork chops, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple Substitutions available

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I recently took a class from Harvard called Science and Cooking. I did it without ever taking an SAT exam or having an IQ above 140, all while wearing my slouchiest PJ and tucked in the comfort of my bed with a can of soda and a tub of gummy bears on the side, and burnt through 5 lectures straight in 1 week… Oh God bless bootleg DVDS. I was once again basted in the youthful hunger of my tender college years when hope was alive and the world was shiny…, as well as the exact reason why… I slept through half of it. Dude, there’s something about the echo? bouncing off the lecture hall?… that’s 10x more potent than sleeping pills on the deepest cellular level and sends me into a baby-state coma. But relax, I still overheard something in between my wee-wee breaks to share with you all.

Did you know… (oh I love saying that) that the myth of searing meats to contain its juices is all but… BULLSHIT!? (If you already knew this please exit the premise, thunder-stealer…) YEAH! I KNOW! All but fabricated by a German chemist around 1850, got endorsed and hence popularised around the world, until nowadays, still practiced religiously by most (slowly raising my hands…). High heat over the surface of the meat, although produces desired caramelization and flavors, does not in any way prevent the loss of moisture during cooking (in fact it may result in more loss). And the best way to cook a large piece of meat to its tender, juicy, gelatinous and godly perfection is still after all, under very low temperature over a long period of time (BBQ-ers can insert “I told you so!” here), sear or no sear. So, I don’t know if your brains arrive at conclusion the same way as mine… but may I introduce you to the birth of… my Christmas Morning Series.

I know I know… you think an operation like this – a slab of pork belly marinated and stuffed with a Jamaican jerk-spice mixture with a muddy green color so non-pretty you know it’s gonna be damn fine, then cooked low-and-slow to nirvana – is out of your reach no doubt. You who have a full-time job to keep, underage menaces to contain, long list of chores in dispute to bring your wedding vow down to its knees and a much-needed cocktail hour to prep yourself for doing it all over again the next day. You got no time to even roast a damn carrot let alone a freaking hunk of pork. I get it, and I guess that’s how something like a crock-pot came into its popularity, the idea that you can dump something in an electronic device and it’ll spit out dinner several hours later without any attention. Everybody loves a low-profile doer. But guess what… you already have a crock-pot… it’s called… THE OVEN (if you don’t even have an oven, you’re allowed to cry now)! You set it in motion before you go to sleep. Constant temperature. Low maintenance. Safe and silent. Then the next day you wake up to something better than Santa!

Here, let me show you. The other day, I started at 11 pm, hours before I typically go to sleep. I blended my jerk-mixture and rubbed it over my pork belly with tender affection. 4 hours later at 3 am, just before I typically go to sleep, I tied it, wrapped it and slided it into the oven. Then I woke up the next day at 12:30 sharp (this is my weekday schedule like it or not) and viola! It was like Christmas morning! The apartment smelled like a bona-fide jerk, and my meat thermometer pierced through the meat so effortlessly like it was buttah. And then? NOTHING! I just left it on the counter and carried on with my day until 1 hour before serving, I blistered it up in the oven and it was Dinner Impossible! Tender and moist pork without any brining because low-temperature cooking does that to your meat, which paired so well with the warm and spicy jerk-rub. Porchetta is too much work for your life?

Please, you can literally do it in your sleep.

Pork belly varies largely in thickness. When shopping, try to find a slab that’s NO MORE THAN 1″ or 2.5 cm in thickness, with even distributions/layers of fat and meat. If the piece isn’t the same thickness from one end to the other, TRIM IT so that it is, otherwise you’ll have difficulty rolling it evenly thus, no even browning in the oven. Tying the porchetta properly with butcher’s twine is also important if you want a perfectly even roll. There is a more detailed photo/description of how to do this in my duck prosciutto post.

The Jamaican jerk-spice mixture will also work on pork butt, or even cutlets/chops if you are looking for a quick and easy recipe.

The timeline for recipe is based on a weekday to prove how doable it is, but of course weekend schedule will give you even more freedom. You just need to move forward/backward the starting point depending on your own schedule. Just keep in mind that marinating takes approx 4 hours, and the roasting time takes 8


  • 1 large piece of skin-on pork belly, 12″ x 9″/ 31 cm x 23 cm (approx 1.85 kg/65 oz)
  • Jamaican jerk-spice mixture: adapted from many recipes combined
    • 10 (3.5 oz/100 grams) long Asian green chilis, or equivalent weight of jalapeño
    • 6 (2.5 oz/70 grams) large green scallions, or 10 thin ones
    • 7 cloves of garlic
    • 1/2 of an onion
    • 3 tbsp (1.8 oz/50 grams, approx 3″ or 8 cm) of ginger
    • 1 tbsp (10 sprigs) of fresh thyme leaves
    • 2 tsp of ground allspice
    • 3/4 tsp of ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp of ground coriander
    • 1/2 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1/4 tsp (or 4 whole) of ground cloves
    • 3 tsp of salt
    • 1 1/2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 tsp of sugar
    • 2 tsp of soy sauce
    • 2 tsp of malt vinegar
    • Juice of 1 lime

    Prepare the jerk-spice mixture :

    6:20 pm: Leave the skin on the garlic cloves. Peel and cut the ginger into large pieces. Peel the onion and trim off the ends, as well as for scallions. Turn the gas-stove on medium-high flame, and toast green chilis (or jalapeno), garlic cloves, onion, ginger and scallions until the surfaces (approx 50 %) are slightly charred (this creates flavor as well as removing some excess moisture). Scrape off some of the charred skin from the green chilis and peel the garlic cloves. Then place ALL of the ingredients in Jamaican jerk-spice mixture into a blender, and puree until smooth.

    6:30 pm: Place the pork belly skin-side down. WITHOUT BREAKING the skin, make deep scores of the meat-side with a sharp knife in both direction. Place pork belly in a large bowl and rub the jerk-mixture (all of it) all over the pork belly, into EVERY nooks and crannies. Wrap with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge.

    8:30 pm: Take the pork belly out of the fridge and let it continue to marinate under room-temperature for another 2 hours (so the pork isn’t cold before going into the oven).

    Tie and roast the pork belly :

    10:50 pm: Preheat the oven on 230ºF/110ºC.

    Take the pork belly out of the bowl and remove as much of the jerk-spice mixture as you can from the SKIN-SIDE. Lay the pork belly SKIN-SIDE down on the board, and collect all the jerk-spice mixture and spread it evenly over the meat-side, pressing it into the scores of the meat. Roll the pork belly, from the shorter side to the other, into a log, just tightly enough without forcing out all the jerk-mixture. With a butcher’s twine (don’t worry about the string not being long enough in the beginner because you can tie/connect another string if needed), tie a knot on one end of the log about 1″ away from the edge. Follow the step on duck prosciutto post about how to continue. Every loop should be about 1″ or 3 cm apart. Then roll the entire pork belly/log in aluminium foil, then make several holes through the foil on the side that’s FACING DOWN (for liquid to drain during cooking).

    Place the pork belly on top of a rack over a roasting pan, then onto the middle-rack of the oven. Then you forget about it. Go to sleep.

    8:00 am: So 8 to 9 hours later. Take the roasting pan out of the oven. Insert a meat-thermometer into the center of the pork belly (without removing the foil), and the internal temperature should read around 180ºF

    88ºC. Turn off the oven and leave the pork belly wrapped in foil under room temperature until the big finale, then go on with your day.

    8:00 pm (or 1 hour before serving): Preheat the oven on 500ºF/250ºC. Once the temperature is reached, switch to medium-heat top-broiler.

    Remove the foil from the pork belly (it may stick a little on the skin). Scatter a few pieces of onions or carrots on the bottom of the roasting pan to prevent smoking, then place the pork belly back onto the rack over the pan. Position the pork belly PRESENTATION-SIDE DOWN first, and brush the skin with coconut milk and sprinkle GENEROUSLY with fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast in the oven on middle-rack until the skin starts to brown and blister slightly, approx 20

    25 min. Flip the pork belly over, now the PRESENTATION-SIDE UP, brush with more coconut milk and salt’n pepper, and continue to roast until browned and blistered, another 20

    25 min. OR. You can even do this in a large skillet. Heat up a bit of oil over medium-low heat and start browning the skin. Cover the skillet with foil (to warm up the center AND prevent splattering) and turn the pork once every few minutes until blistered evenly. I prefer this way actually because it’s FASTER, more efficient blistering, but it does splatter…

    Let the pork belly rest for 10 min, then remove all the butcher’s twine. If you have a blow-torch, you can now torch the part of the skin that wasn’t evenly browned/blistered in the oven. Love blow-torch.

    6 Brilliant duck wine pairing recipes

    Now that you have a brief understanding of how to match wine according to the dish, it’s time to look at a few excellent duck and wine pairings.

    Duck à l’orange (duck with orange sauce)

    Duck à l'orange is a classic French recipe featuring a whole roasted duck with crispy, crackling skin from the outside. The dish is known for its amazing flavor, thanks to an aromatic sweet-sour sauce - bigarade. The original bigarade sauce recipe is made with bitter oranges, and it's finely balanced, with just enough sweetness to offset the intensity of those fruits.

    This dish is really tasty as it combines the firm texture and intense flavor of the duck served with the sweetness and sourness of the sauce. The wine option needs to have enough acidity and a hint of richness to cope with the sauce, yet enough body not to be overwhelmed by the texture of the duck.

    On the whole, duck with orange sauce matches beautifully with Pinot Noir. Simply put, the sweetness of the orange sauce makes a good foil for the bright fruit characters of the wine. Additionally, it is also a very versatile food pairing wine thanks to the higher high acidity and the lower tannin feature.

    Duck meat also has the structure and flavor to carry the tannins of slightly heavier-bodied whites. For instance, a fuller-bodied Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay is a brilliant idea of duck wine pairing. It is soft and well-rounded, which showcases a wide range of ripe fruit flavors to go with your dishes. Meanwhile, its amazing notes of melon, peach, and citrus, along with toasted oak and textural creaminess surely bring your dining experience to a new level.

    Foie gras or duck liver pate

    Foie gras is a specialty cuisine made of the liver of a duck or goose. Its incredibly rich flavor and luxuriant texture really need a contrasting rather than a complementing ingredient to pair with. With this dish, it’s best to choose sweet whites such as Jacob’s Creek Riesling when it comes to duck wine pairing. A pristine and refreshing Riesling bottle with floral notes and the bright citrus for a long finish is exactly what you need to bring out the creaminess of foie gras.

    Duck confit wine pairing recipe

    A traditional way to preserve duck legs in the South West areas of France is to slow-cook them in their fat with seasoning. The contrast of the crispy skin and the salty confit flesh will completely melt in your mouth. That’s exactly how “duck confit” is made.

    Confit duck allows you to serve some of the wines that take forever to age. Naturally rich in flavor, it matches well with robust, structured red wines such as spicy, elegant Jacob’s Creek Shiraz or Cabernet-Merlot blends. It is a skillfully blended medium-bodied option, with ripe plum and berry fruit flavors to bring out the flavor.

    Duck breast wine pairing

    If you don’t want to mess around with the whole fowl, you can get the breast only. In this case, you score the fatty skin and place the meat directly in a pan at moderate temperature. During the whole process, it’s important to remove the fat as it appears until you are left with a very thin crispy sliver. Like when cooking any other meat, don’t forget to rest the duck breast a bit before cutting or serving so that the meat stays moist and tender.

    Pan-fried duck breast works well with lighter-bodied, aromatic reds like Chanti red wine. This option is widely admired for its classic savory taste of red fruits, bright acidity, spicy aromas, and firm tannins. Depending on whether you accompany the meat with, be it a fruit sauce or a cream sauce, choose the proper Chianti version to drink with duck recipes.

    Peking duck wine pairing

    Now, let’s travel East and look at a more spicy recipe - Peking duck. Although the duck is the star of the show, the plum sauce is a crucial element to consider when you’re back and forth about wine pairing. It’s better to choose something with a little bit more sweetness to match the sauce of the dish. And here, white wines can work well.

    The best choice, according to food critics, is an off-dry Riesling white wine (like the foie gras wine pairing above). This duck wine pairing dances on the tightrope of sweetness while mirroring the personality of the plum sauce and cutting the richness of the duck. Also, you can consider the ripe but unoaked Yellow Tail Chardonnay to pair with the Peking duck recipe. It hints at sweetness due to its tree and tropical fruit notes but stays dry to the tongue. Furthermore, the wine’s rich creamy finish and a hint of vanilla perfectly complement your duck recipe.

    If you prefer reds, Zinfandel, Grenache, ripe Shiraz all have a plummy, jam-berry fruit-forward nature that will match well with the sauce's primary flavor. They have enough richness and creamy character to complement the dish.

    An important note is that you’d better avoid big tannins at all costs when it comes to roast duck wine pairing. They will stiffen when you taste the sweet plum sauce, and mask the duck's subtlety.

    Wines to pair with spicy duck curry

    Duck dishes with a bit more heat, such as duck with Thai red curry or a jerk-spiced duck may make an exceptional pair with an off-dry or sweet white like the above Riesling from Germany. The aromatic Gewurztraminer from Alsace is also a great option to take into consideration. This hard-to-pronounce beauty will satisfy your sensitive palate with its full texture, low acidity, stone fruit, and spicy flavors.

    At the same time, while searching for an alcoholic drink to pair to these types of dishes, make sure to pick wines with soft tannins and a low level of alcohol. Those options are your optimal choices as they do not over-accentuate the spicy flavors of the dish.


    To make the spice mix, put all the ingredients into a spice or coffee grinder. Blend to a fine powder and transfer to an airtight container.

    To make the curry sauce, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the goat bones and goat leg and brown on all sides. Add the onion, celery, leek and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally for 2–3 minutes or until softened. Add the tomato paste and flour and cook for another minute, then add the garlic, herbs and the stock and cook for 30–40 minutes.

    Strain the sauce into a clean pan and bring to the boil. Simmer until the volume of the stock has reduced by two thirds and you have a thick and glossy sauce.

    Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.

    Put the goat loin in a roasting tray and cook for 5–7 minutes. Remove from the pan and allow to rest.

    Melt the butter in a large frying pan, add the plantain and courgette and broad beans and cook for 4–5 minutes. Meanwhile, reheat the curry sauce

    Mix together the tomatoes shallots, lovage, mint and rapeseed oil and season with salt and pepper.

    Slice the lamb and put onto a large serving platter. Pour over the sauce and top with the vegetables. Garnish with the tomato salad and serve.

    Jerk-Spiced Duck - Recipes

    First there’s the staff, who offhandedly look like a bunch of punks but really keep the Alembic feeling down to earth, especially when you see how fancy the food and drinks are when they start rolling out. (You can get an idea of their sense of humor when you walk by and look at the chalkboard outside, which usually has something funny scrawled on it. In this case, it was “America, F*@& Yeah!” in honor of Independence Day.) And the staff is good: I watched a waitress—who sported choppy spiky hair, black and pink striped pants, a giant studded belt with a boombox-shaped belt buckle, and a black and white striped top—gently respond to the neighboring table’s adamant requests not to get blue cheese on the cheese plate without a hint of attitude.

    And while it’s best known for its delicious cocktails, the food that’s coming out of the kitchen is unique and surprising. To find a bar with food this good and creative is rare.

    Recently, they started serving a prix fixe menu for $35. It’s a pretty sweet deal. In this case, it began with slices of hiramasa sashimi, rolled up, topped with papery pieces of sweet pickled watermelon rind, cubes of “compressed” watermelon, yuzu kosho (Japanese citrus and pepper sauce), and tiny buds of shiso. Another appetizer, a skewer of jerk-spiced grilled duck hearts served on thin slices of pineapple, tasted like meaty sausage nuggets.

    An unexpected surf and turf: roasted prawns (head on, but with the body shelled) served with crispy, salty sweetbreads. Under the prawns was a pile of fresh shelling peas, bright, crunchy, and sweet, with tiny bits of serrano ham. The whole thing was covered in bright coppery orange shrimp emulsion that spiked the dish with briny flavor. Another main dish we tried was duck confit, which had been picked from the bones and pressed into cubes, then fried, and served on quinoa with cold pickled cherries.

    The bone marrow is my favorite dish in San Francisco. Big statement, but I’m serious. The bones, sliced lengthwise and roasted, filled with that hot meat-butter and a sprinkle of chopped shallots, roasted garlic, capers, and herbs, make the most satisfying meal.

    Many of the garnishes, like the fresh chopped stevia sprinkled on top of a little slab of olive oil cake with passionfruit mousse and chocolate, are grown out behind the kitchen, in half wine barrels that are stocked with herbs and decorative flowers. There’s also a raspberry patch, a few citrus trees, and even hop vines.

    It’s a place where there is usually something new to discover, scrawled on one of the chalkboards above the bar as a special or buried in the menu. On this visit, it was Sutton Cellars Brown Label Vermouth on draft, an eight-ounce carafe for $12. I’ve never seen vermouth on draft, but I would spring for it again if I did. This particular one was dry, with a warm spice smell, bit of herbalness, and long cream soda–tasting finish. It paired well with Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which was turned way up.

    Jamaican Jerk Beef Jerky Instructions

    For the Jamaican Jerk Marinade

    To make the Jamaican jerk paste add all of the dry ingredients to a food processor and process to a coarse paste. Add the remaining liquid ingredients and process until the paste becomes spreadable.

    For the Jamaican Jerk Beef Jerky

    Trim all the fat, gristle, and silver skin from the beef. Slice the beef into thin strips 1/8" to 3/8" thick, against the grain. Set the strips down in a large container like a bowl, flat tray, or sealable plastic bag.

    Pour the Jamaican jerk marinade over the meat and mix well. Store the meat in the fridge for about 4 to 8 hours, or over night.

    Making Jamaican Jerk Beef Jerky in the Oven

    Preheat the oven to 160°F / 71°C, or the lowest setting it will go.

    Remove the beef slices from the container and layer the strips in a single layer on a baking tray, or drying rack on top of a cookie sheet. Make sure the beef strips don't overlap and have a little space between them to enable good air circulation.

    Arrange the oven shelves leaving at least 4 inches of space from the top and bottom sources of heat to achieve even heating. Place the strips in the oven to start dehydrating them.

    Making Jamaican Jerk Beef Jerky in a Dehydrator

    Preheat your dehydrator to at least 141°F / 60.5°C and up to 165°F / 74°C.

    Place the strips in a single layer on the dehydrator trays. Be sure to leave some space between the jerky strips for sufficient air flow. If you are not using wire or mesh trays you may need to turn the beef jerky over once in the middle of the drying process.

    Dry the beef jerky for 6 to 10 hours. If thicker strips of meat are used it may take longer.

    Finishing the Jamaican Jerk Beef Jerky

    To test the beef jerky remove a strip or two from the oven racks or dehydrator trays with clean kitchen tongs. Dried beef jerky strips should be chewy but still tender. When bent, it should be flexible enough not to break but it should crack instead.

    Once the Jamaican jerk beef jerky is sufficiently dry, remove it from the dehydrator and let it cool for 30 to 60 minutes. If there is any oil or moisture on the beef jerky use paper towels to blot it dry.

    Put the jerky in tightly sealed containers then refrigerate or freeze. The Jamaican jerk beef jerky will last in the refrigerator for a month or two and in the freezer for several months.

    8. Oxtail Stew Recipe

    Best Jamaican Oxtail Stew Recipe
    from Oxtail Stew Recipe
    . Source Image: Visit this site for details:

    The initial time I made this stew I followed the recipe to the letter, however have since made some adjustments. I sauté the mushrooms in olive oil and butter, and also make use of the wine to deglaze the frying pan after sautéing the beef.

    Gumbo, the Classic New Orleans Dish, Is Dead. Long Live Gumbo.

    Rich in flavor and history, the dish is no longer a fixture of local restaurants. Some chefs see that as a chance to reinvent it.

    NEW ORLEANS — Decades ago, soon after moving to this city from India, Arvinder Vilkhu began telling his wife and children, “If we ever have a restaurant, we must have a curried gumbo.”

    Mr. Vilkhu had tasted his first gumbo in 1984 during a job interview at a New Orleans hotel. “I was so much in love,” he said of the rich dish, something between a soup and a stew. He began developing his own distinctive version after immigrating here later that year.

    But it wasn’t until 2017, when the family opened their Indian restaurant, Saffron Nola, on a restaurant-dense stretch of this city’s Uptown neighborhood, that he began serving his gumbo, bright with ginger, turmeric and cilantro.

    “New Orleans wasn’t ready for Indian gumbo,” said Mr. Vilkhu’s son, Ashwin, the restaurant’s general manager. “It is now.”

    This is an extraordinary time for the city’s signature dish. Gumbo, long a fixture in restaurants here, has disappeared from many menus as new chefs arrive with different cuisines and ideas, catering to a population remade by the transplants who settled in the city after Hurricane Katrina’s devastation in 2005.

    But the chefs who have stuck by the dish are using the moment to stretch its boundaries by adding ingredients that defy tradition, bringing it fresh relevance. Many of the innovations reflect global influences on New Orleans cooking, particularly from South and Southeast Asia. This time of year, with the cooler weather and the start of the Mardi Gras season, may be the best time to sample them — and to appreciate gumbo’s long and continuing evolution.

    Michael Gulotta, a New Orleans native, has resumed cooking the seasonal seafood gumbo he introduced as a lunch special last year at Maypop, his modern restaurant in the Warehouse district. It’s seasoned with lime leaf, fermented black beans and black cardamom, in homage to the Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants that have long flourished on the city’s outskirts.

    “I served that gumbo all last winter,” Mr. Gulotta said. “People went crazy for it.”

    Gumbo has existed in various forms across south Louisiana for centuries. It can contain any number of ingredients, depending on the chef and the season. But until recently it was rare to find gumbo that incorporated ingredients beyond a fixed list of proteins (fowl, sausage, local shellfish), aromatics (onion, bell pepper, celery — known locally as the holy trinity) and spices (cayenne, thyme, white pepper).


    Gumbo’s flavor is further influenced by roux, the blend of fat and flour used to thicken the broth. It’s a French technique adopted by Louisianians , who often cook the roux so long that it darkens and takes on bitter notes reminiscent of Mexican mole. Sliced okra and the sassafras powder known as filé, a Native American contribution to Louisiana cooking, are also used as gumbo thickeners, either in combination or in place of roux.

    All of which is to say that New Orleans gumbo welcomed considerable variation and interpretation even before chefs and home cooks started to add collard greens and Vietnamese fish sauce to their pots.

    The pale-roux gumbo with shrimp, crab and oysters that Billy Thurman, a commercial fisherman, cooks at home in Meraux, a 25-minute drive down the Mississippi River from the French Quarter, has little in common with the inky brown duck-andouille gumbo served at Upperline, a traditional restaurant in Uptown.

    “Everybody likes it different,” Mr. Thurman said as he stirred his roux with a rubber spatula.

    That a single dish can encompass such a broad spectrum of flavor is a big part of gumbo’s enduring local appeal. “Of all the many dishes in Louisiana cooking, gumbo is the one that most singularly defines us,” said Frank Brigtsen, the chef and an owner of Brigtsen’s Restaurant, where rabbit filé gumbo has been a signature offering for 25 years.

    Mr. Brigtsen echoes the sentiments of local chefs who came of age, as he did, in the 1980s and ’90s. In those years, the city’s economy realigned around tourism and the rising national fame of its restaurants and chefs. It would have been unthinkable for a restaurant serving New Orleans food to leave gumbo off its menu.

    Emeril Lagasse, arguably the most famous chef to come out of New Orleans, has served gumbo at all of the 18 restaurants he has opened since he started his empire in 1990.

    But in recent years, gumbo has become less omnipresent in New Orleans restaurants, as a new generation of chefs has come to prominence, many of them unfettered by entrenched customs.