Often what’s for dinner depends on what looks amusing at the market. This week, pork was on sale so the Accidental Locavore brought some home and figured it would turn into a meal. This was a recipe I found on Saveur. It may look like a lot of ingredients, but it’s mostly spices you probably already have. Serves 4.
- 2 lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2″ pieces
- ⅓ cup white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
- 10 whole black peppercorns
- 6 chiles de árbol, stemmed and seeded
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
- ½ tsp. ground turmeric
- 8 cloves garlic, 4 peeled, 4 roughly chopped
- 2 small red Thai chiles or 2 red jalapeños, stemmed
- A 2”piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup canola oil
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 stick cinnamon, halved
- 2 small green Thai chiles or 1 serrano, halved and seeded
- 1 large yellow onion, sliced
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
In a medium bowl, toss pork, vinegar, and salt. Cook cumin and poppy seeds, peppercorns, chiles de árbol, and cloves in a small skillet over medium heat until seeds pop, 1–2 minutes. Let cool and transfer to a spice grinder; grind into a powder and add to pork. Put tamarind paste, turmeric, peeled garlic, red chiles, and ginger in a food processor or blender and purée into a paste and add to pork. Toss to coat; cover and chill 4 hours.
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat; cook mustard seeds and cinnamon until seeds pop, 1–2 minutes. Add chopped garlic, green chiles, and onion; cook until slightly caramelized, 8–10 minutes. Stir in pork and its marinade; cook until paste begins to brown, 5–7 minutes. Add salt and 1¼ cups water, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered and stirring occasionally, until pork is tender, about 1 hour. Stir in brown sugar and cook until thickened, 8–10 minutes. Serve over basmati rice and enjoy!
My verdict: Spicy (but manageable) and delicious! I used a Boston butt and the meat was really tender. Still burning from the way-too-hot chile, I seeded the chiles de árbol and used really small ones and seeded the serrano and this was spicy but under control. Having some mango chutney on the side also helped. Not having any poppy seeds, I tossed in black sesame seeds, mostly because they were small, round and black and I didn’t think a teaspoon full was going to make a huge difference. Frank liked it too and told me I could make it again (hehehe).