Hari Pulapaka - Winner Photo - ResizedCourtesy of Hari Pulapaka, Ph.D., C.E.C.
Executive Chef & Co-Owner, Cress Restaurant; Associate Professor of Mathematics, Stetson University
Gold Winner of the First Annual Chefs Taste Challenge

Servings: 8 | Level: Intermediate

Inspiration: In my second year after graduate school, while I was still desperately seeking long-term employment as a Mathe­matician, I scored a teaching position at Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, FL. My best friend there was Asoka Peiris, originally from Sri Lanka. Asoka had undergone quadruple heart bypass surgeries and was restricted to a mostly fat-free diet. But he loved Scotch bonnet peppers and introduced me to them. Sometimes we would splurge and ate at the Island Cafe run by a kind couple from Jamaica. That is where I first tasted the flavors of a jerk rub. I got it. I still do, and it remains a favorite way I like to enjoy spicy (pungent) food.


5 lb. high quality “free range” pork shoul­der (Boston butt is best) from a local source
3 cups cooked plantains and yams (or sweet potatoes), properly seasoned
1 egg
1 bunch scallions
10 cloves fresh garlic
2 tbs. fresh ginger
4 Scotch bonnet (or habanero) peppers
4 tbs. fresh thyme
4 fresh sage leaves with stems
1 fresh orange (juice plus zest)
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro (with stems)
3 tbs. whole allspice berries
1 tbs. whole black peppercorns
1 tbs. whole cumin seeds
1 tsp. whole coriander seeds
2 tbs. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. light brown sugar
kosher salt – to taste
freshly ground black pepper – to taste


Jerk Paste: Toast and coarse grind the allspice, black peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds. Add the ground spice mixture to the scallions, 4 cloves of garlic, garlic, ginger, peppers, thyme, sage, orange juice & zest, cilantro, vinegar, brown sugar, and some salt in a food processor. Blend well. This is the jerk paste.

“Butterfly” the pork shoulder to a 1.5 inch thick slab. Pat the pork shoulder dry with paper towels and pierce several (six) uniformly spaced slits with a paring knife. Stuff each slit with a whole garlic clove. Rub the jerk paste liberally and vigorously on all sides. Cover and marinate for at least 24 hours. Preheat an oven to 450 F. Re-season the pork well with more of the jerk paste, kosher salt and pepper. Roast the pork for about 25 minutes. Note: The oven might smoke a bit with the pungent spices. Turn the oven down to 275 F. Cover the pork with foil and roast for an additional 5 hours, until the meat is tender. Let it rest before cutting off pieces or tearing apart. Test the seasoning to make sure it has enough salt.

Sauté the cooked plaintains and yams (or sweet potatoes) with some fresh gin­ger and garlic. Smash them down to a pulp.

Preheat an oven to 350 F. Whisk one egg with the cooled plantain and sweet potato puree. Place the pulled pork into a baking dish and spread the plantain and sweet potato mixture evenly on top. Bake for 30 minutes. Let it rest before serving.