By Chris De La Rosa
While this is traditionally a “Christmas or holiday” dish in the Caribbean (wherever there’s a Portuguese influence), there’s no reason why you cannot rock this for your family, on the regular.
All you need is, a little patience for the pork to marinate and take on the wonderful seasoned garlic flavor.
2 heads of garlic (20-24 cloves)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
5-8 bird’s eye peppers (any pepper you have or like using)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
4-6 pimento peppers (seasoning peppers)
10-12 sprigs thyme
bacon fat (or any type of oil or fat you would like to use).
3 1/2 – 5 lbs pork
Juice of a lemon to wash the pork
white vinegar (2-3 cups)
Wash and drain the herbs, peppers and garlic. Rough-chop the scallions, peppers, garlic and parsley. Then put the chopped stuff, along with the salt, sugar in your food processor or blender, and pulse. Should you not have a machine, give everything a fine chop with your knife.
Cut the pork (preferably a cheap cut of pork, with marble–fat) into strips. Wash with cool water and lemon juice, then drain.
In a glass container, toss in a tablespoon of the puree, then two sprigs of the thyme, then pork, and repeat until it’s all in the jar, in layers. I use a glass container, so the acid and pungent garlic flavor will not make your fridge smelly. If your glass jar has a metal lid, place a bit of plastic wrap on the underside of the lid, so the vinegar mixture doesn’t cause it to rust.
Top with vinegar, stir and seal. Make sure it’s covered in the vinegar, and put into the fridge — for at least 5 days. After 5 days, I then decided to add a bit more flavor. I browned 1/2 lb of bacon in a dry pan and saved the fat. Bacon was for breakfast. Use smoked bacon for best flavors… this one was apple-wood smoked. Remove the marinated pork out of the fridge and drain. Give it a quick shake and cut into bite-sized pieces.
Yes, it’s ok to have some of the marinade still on the pieces of pork. You will need to pat the pieces of pork dry with paper towels, before frying, or you’ll risk having to deal with splattering fat.
I like cutting the marinated pork into pieces, before frying, as I find I get more crispy edges and a juicy center. You can fry the pork in the original long strips and cut into bite-sized pieces later, should you so choose.
Use a pot with a high side, so the splatter will not burn you or get your stove messy. Heat the bacon fat on a medium heat and fry the pork pieces in it, until golden. Flip so all the sides will brown evenly. About 10-12 minutes in total. Drain on paper towels.
As mentioned above, this is usually served with Plait Bread on Christmas morning, in places like Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana. However, I make sandwiches, all year, with this, as I refuse to be bound by seasons.
This recipe is courtesy of Gourmand Award-winning cookbook author and founder of CaribbeanPot.com, Chris De La Rosa. With over 450 printable recipes, with step by step cooking instructions and demo videos, PLUS over 1 million social/fan connections, globally, every month, CaribbeanPot.com is the world’s #1 resource for Caribbean Culinary Culture. Connect with Chis on Instagram: www.instagram.com/caribbeanpot/.