Thursday, February 02, 2012

Trinidanian Pork Geera

Roasted whole cumin seeds, prior to being ground to a fine powder.

Pork geera with rice and peas and chopped vegetable salad.

TRINIDANIAN PORK GEERA

Geera refers to finely ground, dark-roasted cumin seeds and can be purchased as a powdered spice in Caribbean food markets and most Indian grocery stores (where it's labeled jeera). Cafe Drake makes our own and directions to do so are included in the recipe below. If you happen to score a bag of ground geera, skip the roasting and grinding of cumin seeds.

There are far more complex recipes for this erstwhile cafe and bar classic of Trinidad cuisine but none better than the stripped-down version here. And none we've sampled that sweeten the stew slightly with deep caramel notes of almost burnt sugar. Feel free to substitute a less hellish chili pepper if the even the idea of a Scotch bonnet (habanero) scares you away from giving pork geera a try.

The recipe below is (just slightly) adapted from Ann Vanderhoof's brilliant travelogue The Spice Necklace.

Dry roast 4 t. cumin seeds over a medium-high flame until they turn very dark but do not burn. You will need to stir or shake the pan frequently. Cool slightly then grind into a fine powder. Set aside.

Heat 2 T. olive oil in a medium-large pot and add 2-3 T. brown sugar. Stir over a medium flame for 3-4 minutes until a light caramel aroma and color appears. Do not blacken or the entire dish will be bitter.

Add 1 1/2 lbs. cubed, boneless pork (any cut will do except for an overly lean tenderloin), pieces cut into 1" size. Sprinkle all with 1 t. kosher salt and all of the geera. Stir for a few minutes or until the meat is all well browned. You may need to reduce the heat to prevent burning or sticking but soon the meat should release its natural juices. 

Add 2 cups of hot water or chicken stock and 1 minced Scotch bonnet pepper and cook, partially covered, over a low flame for an hour or longer, until the meat is very tender and most of the liquid (90%) has evaporated. 

Serve with rice or flat breads. Pork geera reheats extremely well.

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