How To Cook Rice And Peas In A Jerk Pit

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By Christopher Spiker

Welcome to the savory world of cooking rice and peas in a jerk pit! In this article, you’ll dive into the delightful process of blending traditional Caribbean flavors with a rustic cooking method. You’ll discover how to infuse your rice and peas with smoky, spicy jerk seasonings, creating a dish bursting with rich, authentic taste. Get ready to elevate your culinary skills and bring a slice of island life right into your kitchen! Have you ever wondered how to cook rice and peas in a jerk pit? If so, you’re in the right place! Cooking rice and peas, a staple in Caribbean cuisine, in a jerk pit can add a unique, smoky flavor that elevates the dish to new heights. This guide will walk you through the process step-by-step, making it easy and enjoyable to prepare. So, let’s dive into the delightful world of cooking rice and peas in a jerk pit!

What is a Jerk Pit?

A jerk pit is a traditional Jamaican cooking method that involves grilling or smoking food over a wood fire. The wood used often includes pimento (allspice) wood, which imparts a distinct, smoky flavor to the food. Jerk pits are crucial for authentic jerk cuisine, known for its spicy marinades and slow-cooking techniques.

Why Use a Jerk Pit?

Using a jerk pit to cook rice and peas isn’t conventional, but it adds a fantastic depth of flavor. The smoky notes from the fire infuse the rice and peas, making them more aromatic and delicious. Plus, cooking in a jerk pit offers a communal cooking experience that’s both fun and rewarding.

Ingredients for Cooking Rice and Peas in a Jerk Pit

Before you start, you’ll need to gather the necessary ingredients. Here’s a comprehensive list:

Ingredient Quantity
Long Grain Rice 2 cups
Canned Red Kidney Beans 1 can (15 oz)
Coconut Milk 1 can (14 oz)
Water 2 cups
Pimento Berries 5-6
Scallions 2-3 stalks (chopped)
Garlic 2 cloves (minced)
Thyme Sprigs 4-5
Scotch Bonnet Pepper 1 (whole)
Salt 1 tsp
Pepper 1 tsp
Jerk Seasoning (Optional) 1 tbsp

Ingredient Breakdown

Let’s break down why each ingredient is essential:

  • Long Grain Rice: This type of rice is ideal because it remains fluffy and separate when cooked.
  • Red Kidney Beans: These add texture and protein to the dish.
  • Coconut Milk: Provides a creamy, rich flavor that complements the smokiness.
  • Pimento Berries: Also known as allspice, these contribute to the authentic jerk flavor.
  • Scallions, Garlic, and Thyme: These aromatics build the savory profile of the dish.
  • Scotch Bonnet Pepper: Adds heat and a signature Caribbean flair.
  • Salt and Pepper: Essential seasonings to bring all the flavors together.
  • Jerk Seasoning: This is optional but can enhance the jerk flavor if preferred.

How To Cook Rice And Peas In A Jerk Pit

Preparing the Jerk Pit

Preparing the jerk pit is a crucial step. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

You’ll need:

  • Firewood (preferably pimento wood)
  • Matches or a fire starter
  • A grill rack or makeshift grate
  • Aluminum foil
  • A large pot with a lid

Step 2: Build the Fire

  1. Set Up the Firewood: Arrange the firewood in a teepee shape for optimal airflow.
  2. Light the Fire: Use matches or a fire starter to ignite the firewood. Allow it to burn until you have a good bed of hot coals.
  3. Adjust the Heat: Once the coals are ready, spread them out evenly. You aim for moderate, steady heat rather than high flames.

Step 3: Prepare the Cooking Surface

  1. Place the Grill Rack: Position the grill rack over the hot coals.
  2. Add the Pot: Ensure your pot fits well on the grill rack and is stable.

Cooking the Rice and Peas

With the jerk pit ready, it’s time to cook!

Step 1: Prepare the Ingredients

  1. Rinse the Rice: Place the rice in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold water until the water runs clear. This removes excess starch and prevents the rice from becoming sticky.
  2. Drain the Beans: Open the can of kidney beans and drain the liquid. Give the beans a quick rinse.

Step 2: Combine Ingredients in the Pot

  1. Mix the Base: In your large pot, combine the rice, drained kidney beans, coconut milk, and water. Stir well to distribute the ingredients evenly.
  2. Add the Aromatics: Toss in the chopped scallions, minced garlic, thyme sprigs, and pimento berries.
  3. Season: Add the salt, pepper, and optional jerk seasoning.
  4. Place the Scotch Bonnet: Finally, place the whole Scotch Bonnet pepper on top of the mixture. Be sure not to break it unless you want extra heat!

Step 3: Cook Over the Jerk Pit

  1. Place the Pot on the Grill Rack: Center the pot on the grill rack over the hot coals.
  2. Cover and Cook: Put the lid on the pot and allow the mixture to cook. The coconut milk and water will start to boil, and the steam will cook the rice and peas.
  3. Monitor the Heat: Keep an eye on the fire, ensuring it stays at a moderate level. You might need to add more wood to maintain the heat.
  4. Cook Until Done: It typically takes about 20-25 minutes for the rice and peas to cook. Check the rice for doneness— it should be tender and fluffy.

Step 4: Finishing Up

  1. Remove from Heat: Once the rice is cooked, carefully remove the pot from the jerk pit.
  2. Rest: Let the pot sit, covered, for about 5-10 minutes. This allows the steam to finish cooking the rice and the flavors to meld together.
  3. Fluff the Rice: Before serving, use a fork to fluff the rice gently.

How To Cook Rice And Peas In A Jerk Pit

Tips for Perfect Rice and Peas

  1. Selecting Rice: Always use long grain rice for the best texture.
  2. Fire Management: Consistent heat is key for even cooking. Avoid high flames which can burn the rice.
  3. Spice Control: If you’re sensitive to heat, you can remove the Scotch Bonnet pepper before serving.
  4. Soak the Beans: If you prefer using dried beans instead of canned, soak them overnight and cook them separately before adding them to the rice mixture.
  5. Coconut Cream Variation: For an even richer flavor, you can use coconut cream instead of coconut milk.

Alternative Methods

While cooking rice and peas in a jerk pit is delightful, there are alternatives for those who may not have access to a jerk pit or prefer different cooking methods.

Using a Smoker

If you have a smoker, you can achieve a similar smoky flavor.

  1. Prepare the Smoker: Preheat the smoker to 225°F and add wood chips (preferably pimento).
  2. Cook in a Foil Pan: Combine all ingredients in a large foil pan.
  3. Smoke: Place the pan in the smoker and cook for about 1-2 hours until the rice is tender and fully cooked.

Using an Oven

For a more accessible method:

  1. Preheat Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine Ingredients: Mix all ingredients in an oven-safe pot or Dutch oven.
  3. Bake: Cover and bake for 1 hour, or until the rice is done.

How To Cook Rice And Peas In A Jerk Pit

Serving Suggestions

Rice and peas cooked in a jerk pit can be served as a standalone dish or paired with various proteins. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Jerk Chicken: The smoky flavors complement jerk chicken perfectly.
  2. Grilled Fish: A fresh, grilled fish pairs nicely with the rich, creamy rice.
  3. Tropical Salad: A light, tropical fruit salad balances the heaviness of the dish.
  4. Plantains: Fried or baked plantains are a traditional and delicious accompaniment.


Cooking rice and peas in a jerk pit may seem unconventional, but it promises a delightful culinary adventure. The smoky flavor from the jerk pit adds a unique twist to this classic dish, transforming it into something extraordinary. With a little preparation and attention to detail, you can create a memorable, flavorful meal that captures the essence of Caribbean cuisine.

So, next time you’re looking to spice up your rice and peas or just want to try something new, why not give the jerk pit method a try? You’ll surely impress your friends and family with this delicious, smoky twist on a beloved classic. Happy cooking!

How To Cook Rice And Peas In A Jerk Pit