Friday, May 16, 2008

Off the Shelf

So I am not typically a bottled, pre-mixed seasoning blend kind of person. In fact, I'm not much of a bottled, pre-mixed anything kind of person, as I much prefer the dressings and rubs and sauces I can whip up with fresh, unadulterated ingredients to the stuff you can buy in the store that's usually full of weirdness. Plus you just never know about a lot of those kinds of things and even if they are tasty they take forever to use many random bottles of spice blend or condiment are hanging around in your kitchen?
There are two notable exceptions to my rule that I must tell you about. One has been part of my stash for years, and another I found out about just recently from a friend and fellow cooking enthusiast. And they both happen to be spicy but don't let that deter you...

First up is a taste I acquired, or more accurately became addicted to way back in the eighties on a trip to Jamaica...Jamaican Jerk. Now, lots of things say they're jerk or claim to be jerk, but they lie. Those tastes vary widely from sort of ok to not even close to really pretty yucky. So take my word for it (or, if you must make something from scratch, this recipe I've mentioned before is a good start), because I spent a lot of the nineties searching for the elusive, genuine flavor of Jamaican Jerk, and Walkerswood is IT baby.

It doesn't look like much, I know, and in true Jamaican style it looks a little scary inside the jar, but crack it open and you'll be rewarded with amazingly flavorful and succulent and addictive all in one package. It'll be your new secret weapon to turn any kind of grilled or roasted meat or fish into something sublime. It's particularly nice if you have time to use it as a marinade but even if you don't, a healthy schmear on whatever your grilling or roasting and you'll be transported right back to your new island home.
That one little jar will last you a good long time, because although it's nowhere near as potent as the beachside mason jar filled with spooky, alive-looking fibrous green and brown glop, it's still fairly potent. (It can be a little hard to find, but it looks like you can buy direct via the link above.)
Here's our most recent dip into the Walkerswood stash (I think my bottle has been in the door of a fridge in at least three different houses)...pork tenderloins given a good healthy rub down with a few tablespoons of the stuff and then let to sit in the fridge for a few hours. A little olive oil for lube and onto the grill while I did up some fresh, cool slaw and smashed taters:

And then, another one step wonder, a shake-on dry seasoning mix that I think might be a little better known:
Slap Ya Mama

I found out about this from a friend who lives in Iowa while we were hanging out in Kansas and I couldn't believe I had never heard of it because it's that good. The flavor (and the name, for obvious reasons) stuck in my head...another perfect mix of abundant, yummy flavor and heat, and just like the Walkerswood, it's the kind of thing that's a quick and much too easy-seeming answer. This stuff is delish on fries, roasted potatoes, and any kind of veg or meat. I can even think of a couple of fruits it would be tasty on.
Sadly, just like hot Rotel, Slap Ya Mama doesn't seem to exist locally which I blame on the ridiculous midwestern culture of fear-of-spicy. So I ordered online, which, considering shipping was almost as much as the few-dollar price of the product, is a pretty good indication of how much I love it. And my order came with a couple of free samples of their other blends and an absolutely o-so-nice handwritten note of thanks. How cool is that?

So now you have no excuse not to gear up your seasoning stash, get your spice on and get grilling!

No hot Rotel? Eeeeeek!!
I can hook you up. The problem is, you live in a 'burb devoid of migrant workers. Out here in the boonies we have plenty of such stuff.
When you need some, email me. I'll give it to my boy, to give to your boy.
Nobody should ever be without hot Rotel!
I'm a huge fan of Slap ya Mama! I got some my last trip to New Orleans.
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