Growing up our dad was always at work (well at the time it seemed that way). But Sundays was our day. In the dry season he’d take me and my brother on long hikes through abandoned cacao and coffee estates to hunt and search out ground provisions. He was a master at finding yams of all description, size and shape. Not that stuff you find in the grocery store in North America. Yams with names like, “juba”, ‘finger” and “kush kush” and I can still remember the joy when we found a “patch”.
We’d leave early on a Sunday morning and be back in time for my mom to prepare lunch with the yam, dasheen and eddoes we found during our trek. So part of our Sunday lunch usually included ground provision and stew pork along with all the other dishes that a Sunday lunch is so famous for in Trinidad and Tobago. Yam connoisseurs would argue that nothing beats pairing yam with fried tomato and salt fish (salted cod), but I assure you.. stew pork is the way to go. But you don’t need yams or ground provisions to enjoy the amazing flavor of stew pork.
The principle and ingredients are very much the same as we explored with the “Stew Chicken” recipe a while back, except in this case we’re using pork.
3lbs pork – cubed into 3/4 inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon 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 cilantro (or 2 tbs Trinidad green meat seasoning)
1 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 hot pepper (only if you like your food spicy)
1 green onion or chive – chopped
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (1 teaspoon dried)
1 lime or lemon or 3 tablespoons of vinegar
1 small shallot
Prepare the seasoning mix by dicing the onion, pepper, ginger, green onion, garlic, cilantro, shallot and tomato.
Now lets prepare the pork. Feel free to ask your butcher to do this step for you. Cut the pork into 3/4 inch pieces, removing the majority of fat and skin. One of the reasons why Caribbean dishes are known as being heavy, is our love for fat and skin. In days gone by I’d keep some of that fatty pieces of meat and skin. With age comes wisdom, so we know that this is to be avoided.
Wash… squeeze the lime or vinegar onto the cubed pork and rinse with water.
After you’ve washed the cubed meat, squeeze any remaining water from the bowl and begin to season. Add everything except the oil, sugar and 3 cups of water. Mix well and let marinate for about 2 hrs in the fridge – covered.
Time to get cooking. In a heavy bottom pot add the oil over high heat. As the oil starts to smoke or move along freely in the pot add the sugar. With a long handle spoon (to avoid splatters onto your hand) move the sugar around. You’re looking for the sugar to melt, change color and get to the point when it’s ready to caramelize.
Quickly start adding the seasoned pork as the sugar starts looking like the picture above. Stir around to evenly coat all the pieces of meat. Then lower the heat and simmer covered for about 10-15 minutes.
Now uncover the pot and raise the heat to high. We’re trying to get rid of all the natural juices that formed while it was simmering. In the meantime, add the 3 cups of water to the bowl that had the seasoned pork. We’re trying to pick up any bits of seasonings that were left behind.
As soon as all the liquid is gone and all the pieces of pork is evenly browned, add the 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat, cover and let simmer for about 40-45 minutes. We’d like to get a nice thick gravy and have the pieces of pork as tender as possible. If after the 45 minutes you have too much liquid, be sure to turn up the heat and let some burn off.
Questions? Leave me a comment below or use the contact link at the top of this page. I’d love to hear from you.
This day I didn’t have any yams, but I did enjoy a nice plate of brown rice with this exciting way of preparing pork.