Saturday, January 24, 2015

Caribbean Pork ~ A Cream Coconut Curry with Plantains and Rice

Because of our home in St. Thomas, USVI we get local Caribbean food on a somewhat regular schedule. But when I'm home in Chicago I still get a taste for the flavors of the islands and so today I'm making pork tenderloin that is rich in Caribbean flavors.

Julian's Caribbean Pork with Plantains and Rice
I'm doing it in the slow cooker today, but you could just as easily do it in a low temperature oven (about 225F). You could also purchase a coconut curry powder or sauce but if you have the simple list of ingredients below, you can easily make it yourself.

About 2.5 pounds of pork tenderloin.
I use the word 'curry' in my description because that's what the locals often call it... a pork curry. Curry is a generic term used to describe a variety of spiced dishes with the consistency of a stew with a gravy-like sauce. However, there is no particular ingredient or spice that makes something curry, so don't just purchase a bottle of spice named 'curry' and think you will get the same flavors I have here.

If you prefer to substitute chicken, please go right ahead as this is equally common in the islands.

Caribbean Pork

Ingredients

1 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoons ground cardamom
1 tablespoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon brown sugar

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 to 2 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin
3/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup coconut milk
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup cream or sour cream

Instructions
Mix the spices until well combined. Place the oil in the crock pot or heavy roasting pan and heat until warm. Cut the pork into large chunks as shown. Add the spices to the hot oil and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add a little more oil if necessary to insure a paste-like consistency. Add the pork and stir to coat the pieces. Add the hot water and the coconut milk. Cover and heat on low setting (or oven at 225F degrees). Cook for 3-4 hours until meat is tender by not falling apart.

Remove the meat to dish to stay warm and heat the sauce. Mix together the flour and 4 tablespoons of water and stir into the hot sauce, stirring constantly until it thickens.  Remove from heat and add the cream or sour cream. Return the meat to the sauce and turn gently to coat.

Serve over rice.

Friend Sweet Plantains

Plantains are often mistaken for bananas, and while they’re part of the banana family, they are very different. The main difference is that they must be cooked before being eaten; this is due to the fact that they are starchier than bananas.

Green plantains are used in a variety of savory dishes, from appetizers to soups. Ripe plantains, sometimes called just maduros, are used in both savory and sweet dishes. Today I'm simply frying ripe plantains as a side dish for the pork above. Simply purchase ripe (yellow) plantains, about one half per person. You do want relatively fresh plantains as old plantains cooked in this fashion can be very starchy and dry.

Cut the ends off the plantains and cut each one in half. Peel them and slice them in half lengthwise. In a large skillet over medium-high heat add 1/4 cup oil and fry the plantains slowly until they are browned and caramelized, about 15 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Season with salt and serve.

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