If you like it hot, then the habanero chile pepper is for you. This little pepper packs a big punch and is used in many traditional jerk recipes. Here are the recipes that will help you enjoy the flavor of the habanero chile pepper.

Cooking Carefully with Extreme Heat

Any variation from the chinense species may be used in these recipes, including Jolokias.

Essential Habanero Hot Sauce

Fresh, frozen, or pickled habaneros can all be used in this recipe, but if using pickled chiles, there is no need to rinse them. Adjust the heat by adding fewer habaneros, not by increasing the carrots, as this can alter the flavor.

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 habanero chiles, cut in half and seeds removed
  1. Combine all the ingredients, except for the habaneros, in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil until the carrots are soft.
  2. Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Strain for a smoother sauce. Pour into sterilized jars and refrigerate.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups

Heat Scale: Very hot

Jamaican Jerk Marinade

The number of versions of jerk marinades is nothing less than astonishing. Traditionally, the marinade should be very thick. It can be used with pork, chicken, or fish.

  • 1/4 cup whole Jamaican pimento berries (allspice)
  • 3 habanero chiles, stems and seeds removed, chopped
  • 10 green onions, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 bay leaves, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons chopped ginger
  • 1/3 cup fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  1. Roast the berries in a dry skillet until they are aromatic, about 2 minutes. Remove and crush them to a powder in a mortar or spice mill.
  2. Add the pimento powder and the remaining ingredients to a food processor and blend to make a thick sauce. Store in the refrigerator for a month or more.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups

Heat Scale: Extremely hot

Jerk Pork

The Jamaican jerk cooks use a technique best described as “smoke-grilling.” Use a Weber-type barbecue with a round drip pan under the grate to catch drippings and prevent flare-ups. Use natural lump charcoal and soaked hardwood chips for the smoke.

  • 4 pounds pork meat (roasts or chops, more needed if ribs), fat removed and coarsely cut into pieces 2 to 3-inches wide and 4 to 5-inches-long
  • 2 cups Jamaican Jerk Marinade (see recipe above)
  • Hardwood chips, such as apple or oak, soaked in water
  1. Toss the pork in the marinade, cover, and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Build a fire in the barbecue using the natural lump charcoal. Spread the coals apart and place a metal drip pan, half-filled with water, in the center of the fire.
  3. Place the pork on the grill directly over the pan and as far from the fire as possible. Cover the meat with a tent of aluminum foil that will keep in the smoke. The trick for the next few hours is to add good charcoal to keep the fire going while avoiding making it too hot.
  4. Periodically, add some soaked chips to the coals to produce smoke. Cook the pork for 2 to 3 hours, turning the meat occasionally and basting with the marinade or the drippings from the pan. The pork should be crispy and tender inside, almost falling apart.

Serves: 4 to 6

Heat Scale: Hot