Saturday, January 15, 2022

Pork Vindaloo, Again

      I wanted to make sure last time wasn't just luck.  Today was sunny and dry, though cold, not terrible grilling weather.

      Started with a Boston Butt Pork Roast ($3.99 a pound!) and marinated it in a half-cup of 50/50 white and balsamic vinegar, with a teaspoon of smoked paprika, a teaspoon of plan paprika, a little hot paprika and a quarter-teaspoon or more of garlic powder, plus some black mustard seed, ginger, a tiny bit of ground cloves, some chaat masala, a half-teaspoon of sugar, a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce and four pickled Serrano peppers. (You can add red pepper flakes or dried chili powder or the like if you prefer.)  The pork sat about five hours in the fridge, marinating.  (And I'm cheating: fresh garlic is better in this than the powder.  But it was what I had, and it's a lot easier.) 

      I set up the grill for indirect heat in the usual way, and started the meat with marinade in my oval graniteware roasting pan (covered) while I peeled and chopped a large Granny Smith apple (with cinnamon and a little more ginger), a medium-sized turnip (with a little garlic) and a parsnip (with respect).  That took about fifteen minutes, so I added them to the pan, where the meat was cooking nicely.  I put a couple of bay leaves the pan, too.

      Back in the kitchen, I cleaned and chopped a fennel bulb, a couple of carrots, a couple of stalks of celery and a large red onion.  I waited until twenty minutes had passed since the first group of vegetables went in, to give them time to cook down.

      After that, I did dishes.  (I can see the grill out one of the kitchen windows, though it's at an oblique angle.)  After a little over a half hour, I added a small can of mild chilies (add hotter if you prefer) and a 24-ounce box of finely chopped tomatoes, put the lid back on, and found other things to do.  I checked on the grill every half-hour and after two hours total, the ingredients were bubbling nicely and smelled delicious.  The meat thermometer put the pork at more than sufficiently done and the apples were dissolving into the sauce. 

      After carrying the pan inside to sit on the stove, I had to go back out and clean up bubbled-over sauce from the bottom of the grill -- I usually close all the vents and let the grill shut itself off, but that would have left the liquid to freeze.  So I blotted up most of it and set the vents to half, and it dried out while we ate.

      The meat was falling-apart tender.  I was prepared to lift it out and carve slices, but all it took was a nylon spatula to separate pieces in the pan.

      Tam pronounced it delicious, and has promised to share her photographs. (Here's the full set.)  I enjoyed my plate.

      This process uses very inexpensive equipment.  I think the square, covered grill was $20, ten years ago.  It has adjustable vents in the center of the hinged top and at the front of the bottom section.  The oval graniteware pan is stamped sheet metal with a hard enamel-type coating: you don't need a thick pan for roasting in a covered grill, and it was in the $20 range, too.  My digital meat thermometer was six or seven dollars.  The charcoal's not cheap; I use hardwood lump charcoal even with a covered pan, and the kindling is a couple of sticks of hardwood, cut in half, a couple of splits from scrap pine, and some thin shakes torn about an inch wide, over strips of old newspaper.  It all gets stacked up in a tac-tac-toe grid, with charcoal piled around it and gaps at the bottom in front and back to light it.  This gets going pretty quickly, and once the coals have caught, I form them into two rows at the sides of the grill, put the grill bars in place, and set the pan on top, over the gap between the fires.  You can roast just about anything with that arrangement, as long as you are willing to let it cook for two hours or more.

      Vindaloo is roughly in the barbecue family: slow-roasted meat in a spicy, sweet-and-savory tomato-and-onion sauce.  It just has a different accent than the kinds we usually get.  I think getting the bulk of the sweet notes from the apple, fennel bulb, parsnip and carrot gives it a little more complexity, but if you look at it as being akin to barbecue, you can get an idea of how you might like to make it and what ingredients might be interesting to try.  Indian (and culinary vicinity) grocery stores are not uncommon in larger cities, and they offer excellent spices and fresh or dried chilies, some very hot.  (Serrano peppers are a fair approximation; canned chilies are not too far off the mark and I like them.)


Cop Car said...

Anyone who uses fresh fennel (as you seem to do rather frequently) gets my respect. Although I have grown fennel (for the butterflies), it didn't occur to me that the bulbs were edible until they grew too old - by which time I had discovered fennel's propensity toward taking over the world and started trying to eradicate it. (The butterflies must make do with dill weed.) Your cooking, as you describe it, always makes my mouth water.

Roberta X said...

Thank you! I describe it in the same way as I plan it, and -- so much for modesty -- I plan hoping for results that will make my mouth water.

Fennel and I have an amusing history. I encountered strips of the bulb in salads at nearby Twenty Tap not too long after they opened and really liked it. Asking what that tasty stuff might be got an unexpected answer and when I realized the corner grocery stocked it, I started experimenting. Flavor-wise, it's not as closely related to celery as parnsip is to carrot, but it will substitute for it or work with it very well.

It tastes good, keeps well, and Tam likes it as least as much as I do. That's a win! But I didn't know it was a aggressive garden plant until you shared that info. I may have to give it a try this year -- the mulch-piles left after we had trees taken out are pretty good for growing things (tomatoes last summer), still don't grow much grass, and it would be relatively controllable.

Cop Car said...

So that's how you got your start with using fennel. When/if we ever get to the place when we feel comfortable actually dining out, again, I'll check with the restaurant in Wichita that (I think) most closely mirrors your Twenty tap - their Bricktown Brewery. I just checked their menu listings for online ordering fail to list fennel, but a multitude of sins may be covered by their "mixed greens" start to some salads. I also tried to check the web menu of Two Olives, a good Mediterranean restaurant in Wichita, to no avail.

Thanks for noting fennel's keeping properties. I'll see if our local grocery store stocks it in placing my order for tomorrow. (We are old, old people so I went back to curb pickup when the omicron variant pushed into too-many-unvaccinated Kansas.

Roy said...

In regards to grill clean-up you might want to consider a grill mat.

I use them on my grill and also on my gas stove, where you just cut out holes for the gas rings and lay the mat on the stove top. Sure makes it easy to clean.

regards, Roy