As I sat down to enjoy a massive plate of this scrumptious dish, I was taken back to my childhood when my great uncle would come over to our home to play cards with my dad and grandfather. It was the norm back then that whenever he visited my mom had to prepare this “oil-down” dish since he looked forward to it every visit. Additionally… as a boy my dad grew up on the family’s cocoa and coffee estate, so breadfruit was one of the staple foods my great grandmother would prepare for him along with green banana’s and other ground provisions (yam, dasheen, eddoes.. etc). He passed on his love for this “put meat on your bones” type of food to me and my brother. My sister’s are a different story.
Though this is not a traditional “oil down” way of preparing breadfruit, I’m sure it can qualify on some level since the key ingredients of meat, breadfruit and coconut milk are all used. Here’s my take on this time-honored meal.
1 1/2 pork – cubed into 3/4 inch pieces
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ketchup
2 cloves of garlic – thinly sliced or crushed
1 teaspoon fresh or bottled ginger – sliced. (use 1/2 if it’s ginger powder)
2 tablespoon vegetable oil (one that can withstand high heat)
1 medium onion – chopped
1 medium tomato – chopped
2 tablespoon Trinidad green seasoning
1 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cans coconut milk (5.6 fl oz or 165 ml)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 hot pepper (only if you like your food spicy)
1 lime, lemon or 3 tablespoons of vinegar
1 “full” breadfruit (not ripe)
* if you don’t have the “green seasoning” use:
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (1 teaspoon dried)
1 green onion or chive – chopped
2 tablespoon cilantro (or shado beni if you can get it)
We’ll start by cutting the pork into small pieces. Then with some water in the bowl with the pork pieces, pour in the juice of the lime (lemon or the vinegar) and wash the pieces of meat. Rinse with a new batch of water and squeeze dry. We’ll then move on to seasoning the meat. Basically you’re adding everything in the ingredient list except the oil, breadfruit, sugar and coconut milk.
Mix and allow to marinate for about 30 minutes to 2 hours. The next step is to “stew” the pork as we did in previous recipes. See the original stew pork recipe here.
In a heavy, deep pot heat the oil on medium to high heat. When the oil is hot add the brown sugar and move around with a cooking spoon (make sure the spoon is dry). We’re trying to get the sugar to go bubbly and golden to dark brown (see pics below). Since this is an important step (easy to burn) it’s important that you have the seasoned pork close so you can add it as soon as the sugar reaches a caramelized state. When the sugar get to the colour you see in the final pic below, start adding the pieces of pork. Be careful as you’re adding meat with moisture to very hot oil/sugar.
Quickly (but carefully) add the pieces of seasoned meat to the pot and stir so everything gets coated with the caramelized sugar. Turn the heat down to medium/low and cover the pot. Allow this to cook covered for about 30 minutes… it will spring it’s own natural juices so you don’t have to worry about it burning or sticking. If you find that the liquid is drying fast, turn down the heat to a gentle simmer. Stir occasionally!
While this cooks let’s prepare the breadfruit. You’ll notice that I said “full” breadfruit in the ingredients list. Basically this means a fully mature, but not ripe breadfruit. A fully mature breadfruit will have a lovely buttery texture when cooked. Cut the bread fruit into 6-8 wedges as I’ve done in the pics below. Now with a sharp pairing knife or potato peeler, peel away the skin and discard. The final step is to remove the core off the wedges (usually soft and not solid in texture). Now place in a bowl with water until you’re ready to add to the pot with the pork.
We’ve now been simmering the pork for about 30 minutes so it’s time to “fry it down” (burn off all the liquid) by turning up the heat to high. As the liquid burns off you’ll notice 2 things. 1 the colour of the meat will go a bit darker and 2. it will start to stick to the bottom of the pot. Keep stirring until all the liquid is gone and you can see oil at the bottom of the pot.
Add the pieces of breadfruit to the pot and pour in the coconut milk. As soon as you can tell that it’s come to a boil, turn down the heat to the lowest your stove can go so it’s a very gentle simmer. Try to stir the pot a little to release anything that may have stuck to the bottom of the pot when we had the heat on high. Allow this to simmer gently for about 30 minutes (try to stir a couple times, but be gentle as not to break-up the pieces of breadfruit). Normally my mom would place some dasheen bush leaves on top of everything to allow it to steam-cook (I’ve also seen her put cabbage leaves when she didn’t have dasheen bush), but in this simplified recipe we’ll use the pot’s lid to help seal in the juices.
After about 30 minutes you should have little or no juices at the bottom of the pot and the meat should be tender and the pieces of breadfruit fully cooked and infused with the flavours of the coconut milk plus the stewed pork.
This is a one pot meal that’s very filling. Serve hot and watch your guests lick their chops!
Tip: If you’re like me and love the flavour of ginger but hate biting into the ginger pieces, slice it thick so you can see it easily when the dish is done to be removed before serving.
If you have any questions relating to this or any of the recipes on the site, please leave me a comment below and I’ll try my best to answer. Since I do manage several other websites there may be a delay, but I promise to get to it. You may even get an answer from others who visit the site on a daily basis as well. Additionally, if you have another way of preparing this dish, be sure to share it with us.