About the Big Cock on Stewartstown Road.
Have you seen the big rooster on Stewartstown Road? It stands outside Big Cock Jerk Pit—the latest restaurant by Marty Biafora, the same guy who brought us Flying Fish Co. and, if you were lucky enough to get there, the Lodge at Kelly Mountain outside Elkins. He lived in Jamaica as a younger man and, restless in semi-retirement, he decided last year to share his jerk skills with all of us.
So what is jerk? “Let’s have this understood from the beginning,” comes the answer in the tone of a man who’s cleared this up before. “Jerk is not jerky.”
What jerk is is a delicious way of spicing and cooking that has origins in all of Jamaica’s cultures: natives’ methods for salting and dry-curing meats and fish, Spanish and British sailors’ practices for salting and smoking meats, African slaves’ techniques for marinating meats in spices.
Today’s jerk is a spice rub that can include peppers, onions, pimentos, allspice, brown sugar, and more, and then a slow roast that Biafora says brings out layers of flavor no other method can.
“Along the roads in Jamaica are guys with barrel grills, just a hut with a pit, and you get grilled jerk chicken on tin foil and a slice of white bread and that’s it.” BC Jerk Pit brings that tradition to us with a roadside hut just past Suncrest Towne Centre.
Opened in mid-March, Biafora’s take-out shack was the right thing at the right time. For now, he’s keeping the menu focused—jerk chicken and pork in sandwiches or as meals with red beans and rice and a fresh crisp Georgia vinegar slaw, plus luscious racks of dry-rub ribs. As family meals and Caribbean catering pick up—think pig roast and spicy vegetable escabeche—he’ll add more traditional foods like patties and coca bread.
Asked about the restaurant’s name, Biafora says it was a small idea, and then it grew. When you go, try not to hit the surprised driver in front of you. “There have been more near-rear-enders out there than I have personally witnessed in my entire life.”
posted on July 16, 2020
written and by Pam Kasey
photographed by Candace Nelson