Rubs that "blacken" can turn bitter or overpower meats and fish, but Helen Willinsky discovered the secret to avoiding that long ago. "Americans like a little sweetness," says the Jamaican cooking expert, who spoke with us from her native island last week. Her Dry Jerk Seasoning blend balances savory spices with cinnamon and sugar.
In this recipe, the seasoning helps create a salty-sweet crust on the seared beef. You'll have a few tablespoons of the jerk rub left over; Willinsky says it's good when added to side dishes as well. And the seasoning helps form a spicy mayonnaise to be served alongside.
You could use this rub on beef tenderloin filets instead of the neatly tied tenderloin we used; if so, coat both sides and cut short, vertical slices of the finished meat. Serve with a black bean salad or baked plantain slices.
- 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
- 4 tablespoons dry jerk seasoning (see TIP, below)
- 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 1 1/4 pounds beef tenderloin, tied
- 1 tablespoon corn, safflower or olive oil, plus more as needed
Make the Dry Jerk Seasoning (see TIP, below); set aside.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon of the Dry Jerk Seasoning and the hot pepper sauce. Set aside.
Coat the beef lightly with some of the oil and place it in a large resealable plastic food storage bag. Add 3 tablespoons of the Dry Jerk Seasoning and seal the bag. Through the bag, massage the seasoning into the meat.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the tenderloin and sear on all sides; this should take 5 to 7 minutes (use tongs to turn the meat often so it doesn't burn). Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 15 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat registers--0 to--5 degrees (rare). Transfer the meat to a cutting board to rest for 5 minutes. Cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, discarding the string. Serve with a dollop of the spicy mayonnaise.
Adapted from Willinsky's "Jerk From Jamaica: Barbecue Caribbean Style" (Ten Speed Press, 2007).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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