Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Geera Pork

Minutes ago I finished reading The Spice Necklace: My adventures in Caribbean cooking by Ann Vanderhoof.  Most of the “adult” books I read are cooking memoires (as a middle school librarian, probably 90% of the books I read are written for young adults – it pays to know your audience).  Vanderhoof shares the two plus years that she and her husband spent living on their sailboat in the Caribbean sailing to various islands discovering  local dishes and food products.  She includes lots of recipes.  The LOML (Love of My Life) and I were hosting a potluck party just as I finished chapter 8 – Trinidad.  I had to try the Geera Pork (geera = cumin seed).  I love pork and cumin, the ingredient list for the recipe is unbelievably simple and the author’s praises were huge.  I doubled the recipe hoping for lots of leftovers for my work-week lunches but sadly there was barely enough for one good lunch as our guests loved the dish.  Here is Vanderhoof’s recipe (with a few cooking comments of my own but no real changes to the original recipe.

Geera Pork
4 tsp cumin seed
2 TBSP vegetable oil
2 TBSP demerara or brown sugar
1 ½ lb boneless pork (or lamb) cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
Place cumin seeds in a dry frying pan and toast over medium heat for a couple of minutes, until they begin to pop and darken and release their aroma.  Remove from heat, cool, and then grind to a powder in a spice mill.
Heat the oil in a large pot.  Add the sugar.  Cook, stirring frequently, until it is bubbling and dark brown and you can smell the caramel (about 3 to 4 minutes).  Watch carefully, as it can go very quickly from golden to dark brown.  If it turns black it will give the dish a burnt taste.
Carefully add the meat to the caramelized sugar, sprinkle with salt and cumin, and stir until the meat is coated with the caramelized sugar.  Cook, uncovered, until the meat releases  its juices and the juices have almost evaporated, stir frequently. The meat should be very brown.
Add 2 cups of hot water, pouring it in the side of the pot so it doesn’t take off the sweetness and the juice from the pork.  Continue cooking for about 1 hour, partly covered, until the pork is tender and the sauce has cooked down.  The finished dish should be fairly dry, not a stew, and the sauce should be very dark brown, coating the meat.
Serve over rice and pass around hot sauce such as Tabasco Sauce (I prefer the green jalapeno Tabasco sauce).
I’ll be trying more of Vanderhoof’s recipes very soon.  Caribbean flavors are so different from Mexican and South American dishes.  It is so exciting to learn about the history behind a culture’s  common food – food is influenced not only by native plants and wildlife but also by the natives, conquerors, wars, weather, soil conditions, land topography.

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