Curry wasn’t cooked often in our home when we were growing up (dad was not a fan of curry), especially pork. Mom’s go-to recipe when it came to pork was either stewed (stewed pork recipe) or roasted in the oven. When I moved to Canada and started living with my aunt (mentioned her in my cookbook), I learned to both appreciate and master the art of cooking Caribbean style curry dishes. Pork being one of them.
This curry pork is absolutely delicious.. tender pieces of pork, simmered in a delightful curry sauce which is not heavy and wickedly spicy if you break the scotch bonnet when cooking. The key here is to try and get pieces of pork with bones.. lean pork will work, but the bones gives it that extra layer of flavor (IMO).
3 lbs pork (I used ribs ends)
1 heaping tablespoon Caribbean Green Seasoning
1 tablespoon chopped shado beni (culantro)
2 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon roasted Geera (cumin)
1 scotch bonnet pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
water – about 3-4 cups
Notes: If you cannot source the shado beni (aka culantro), use 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro. I like using a madras blend curry powder, but one made in the Caribbean (Trinidad and Tobago). If doing this gluten free, do pay attention to the curry powder you use to make sure there’s no flour added. Some curry powder adds flour to their blend.
Cut the pieces of pork (if your butcher didn’t already) and wash, drain and get ready to marinate (this is key). I used a cheap piece (already cut at the grocery store) of pork, with pieces from around the rib area of the piggy. In a big bowl, mix in the green seasoning, salt, black pepper, ground cumin, tomato (diced), salt, ketchup, chopped scallion and grated ginger with the pieces of pork. You have two options here when it comes to the scotch bonnet pepper. If you want raw heat, cut and use as much as you want in the marination process. If you want flavor, when we get the pot going, add the whole pepper and try NOT to break it.. or you’ll release the beast!
* Remember to wear gloves and wash your hands with soap and water immediately after using cut scotch bonnet peppers.
Give everything a good mix, cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours (overnight is best). Let’s jump to actually cooking now! Heat the oil in a heavy bottom pan (one with a lid) on a medium heat, then add the diced onion and garlic.. lower the heat as low as it can go and allow the flavors to develop for about 3-5 minutes. With the heat still on low add the curry powder and mix well. The goal here is to cook off the raw taste of the curry so we don’t get a rawness to the finished dish.
It will go darker, you will have that lovely bouquet of curry in your kitchen and it will have a tendency to clump.. that’s natural. If you find that it’s too dry, feel free to add a bit more oil to the pot. After 4-5 minutes, turn the heat to high and start adding the seasoned pieces of pork to the pot. The goal is to coat the pork with the curry and to deglaze the pot.
Bring it up to a boil (it will release natural liquid), then turn it down to medium low, cover the pot and let it go for about 8-10 minutes. Then remove the lid and turn the heat back up to high. We want to burn off all that natural liquid and really intensify that curry flavor in the pieces of pork.
In the same bowl you marinated the pork (don’t discard the marinade), swish around 3 cups of water and set aside for use. Once the liquid is burnt off, it’s time to add that water to the pan (be sure you can see some of the oil we started off at the bottom of the pan before adding the water). Bring that to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer, cover the pot and let that slowly braise for about 1.5 hrs.
After its done it’s thing, we have to personalize this a bit (pork should be tender by now).. turn up the heat and burn off the liquid until you have a gravy consistency you like (I like it somewhat thick) and taste for salt. Adjust accordingly as my appreciation for salt will be different than yours. After turning off the stove I like to go in with the chopped shado beni (or cilantro) and let the residual heat help release the flavors from that. Do remember to remove the whole scotch bonnet pepper before serving.
TIP – Pork can be fatty… (remember I didn’t use a lean pork), so you’ll notice that some of the fat will rise to the surface of the pan. Spoon out and discard (not down your sink though – that can clog pipes).
If you want to make quicker work of this you can add it (after the initial 10 minutes of cooking the pork in the curry – before we added the water) to a pressure cooker for about 10-15 minutes (with 2 cups water) After it’s safe to open the pressure cooker, remove the lid and turn up the heat to thicken the gravy.
* This can be frozen with great results. Simply thaw, heat and serve when you’re ready for another dose of curry pork..which also happens to be gluten free. Curry traditionalists may query the use of tomato and ketchup, but I assure you the acid will help balance the flavors nicely.