Jerked Pork in the Slow Cooker

Heat things up with Jamaican-spiced pork in an easy make-ahead recipe for the slow cooker
Jerked Pork in the Slow Cooker

Photography Terry Brennan, Food Styling Lara Miklasevics

Do you vow to use your trusty slow cooker more every winter? If so, here is your chance: It’s perfect for making flavorful pork for sandwiches to serve at a game-day or weekend gathering, and you can enjoy the leftovers the rest of the week or freeze them.

Here, pork is spiced up with classic jerk seasoning with a nod to the island of Jamaica, where meats are marinated and then slow smoked over pimento wood. In this easy version, your slow cooker will ensure that the meat stays moist and becomes meltingly tender while you ignore it completely, says Twin Cities chef and cookbook author Robin Asbell who created this recipe for Real Food. (And ignoring it is actually good—you want to resist the temptation to lift the lid for a peek while it’s cooking. Each time you lift the lid it can add about 20 minutes of cooking time to your dish.) It’s also easy to cook the meat overnight in your slow cooker and finish the dish in the morning so that it’s ready to reheat in time for a party.

This recipe can be as hot as you like. If you go with the Scotch bonnet chile, it will be Jamaican hot, but if you want to tone it down, a couple of jalapeños will give it a milder kick, says Asbell. Serve in buns or over cooked rice for a spicy, savory meal.

Jerked Pork in the Slow Cooker

Makes 12 Servings

1 small Scotch bonnet or habanero chile, or 2 jalapeños
½ cup chopped yellow onion
1 tablespoon fresh ginger
2 large scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground allspice
½ teaspoon nutmeg, grated
¼ cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce

3¼ pounds pork roast, unseasoned
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped

12 hamburger buns, or cooked white rice (cook 3 cups long grain rice for 10 to 12 servings)

  1. In a blender, combine the chile, onion, ginger, scallions, thyme, salt, pepper, allspice, nutmeg, rice vinegar, and soy sauce. Place the lid on the blender and blend, increasing to high speed to make a smooth puree. Scrape out into a slow cooker.
  2. Trim the pork roast to remove excess fat, then cut 4- to 5-inch deep slashes on opposite sides of the roast to allow the sauce to penetrate. Place the roast in the slow cooker and turn to coat with sauce. Massage the puree into the slashes and make sure it covers the meat. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
  3. At 8 hours, transfer the roast to a large bowl and test by sticking a fork into the meat to see if you can pull it into shreds. It should be tender enough to tear easily. If not, place back in the cooker for another half hour.
  4. When the pork is tender, place it into the bowl and let it sit until cool enough to handle. Use two forks to shred the meat.
  5. Pour the liquids from the cooker into a 2-quart pot and place it on the stove. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to keep a strong simmer, at about medium high. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquids are reduced by half and appear thicker. Add the chopped pepper and onion and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  6. Pour the vegetable mixture over the cooled, shredded pork. At this point, it can be refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to 4 days, or frozen for 2 months. To reheat, you can place the meat in a pan on the stove, stirring over low heat until hot and serve or transfer to the slow cooker to keep warm and for serving. Serve a heaping ½ cup or so in each bun, or over cooked white rice.

Nutrition info (per serving) Jerked Pork in The Slow Cooker: Calories 338 (102 From Fat); Fat 11g (Sat. 4g); Chol 77mg; Sodium 604mg; Carb 25g; Fiber 2g; Protein 32g

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.