Thursday, March 19, 2009

Eating Indian: Pork Vindalho

Many things India-related escape me. I don't get cricket. I've only been to two yoga classes so my cosmic consciousness probably isn't quite where it should be. I've never seen a Bollywood movie....I didn't even see Slumdog Millionaire. Beef is apparently unacceptable. But the rest of the universal language of that I get!

From chef David Anderson of Portland's Vindalho Restaurant, this pork vindalho is absolutely sensational. I first tasted this amazing subcontinent creation at a beer dinner I attended at Vindalho and was enthralled. Why? First off it's braised pork shoulder, my current favorite cut of meat. Add to that an amazing melange of freshly toasted and ground spices (in the pic at left) that are the definition of sensory overload, give it all a few hours in the oven for magical things to happen and prepare for feelings of intense pleasure. For some working on their yoga sastra will help them connect. For me the path to true enlightenment is marked with platefuls of vindalho!
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Pork Vindalho
From David Anderson/Vinadlho Restaurant

1/2 ounce dried arbol chilies, stems removed
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons fenugreek seed
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in the mortar
1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds
Toast chilies and the whole spices separately.
Cool and combine in a bowl. Grind together in
a coffee grinder.

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 medium yellow onions, sliced (about 2 cups)
¾ cup cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cayenne
5 pounds boneless pork shoulder,
cut into 2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
3 cups water
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Heat half the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and fry until brown and caramelized, about 30-40 minutes. Drain the onions and cool on a plate. Puree onions in the blender with a splash of the vinegar to form a smooth paste. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add ground spices, turmeric, cayenne, and the rest of the vinegar and blend together.
agents of flavor: the onion paste mixed with the spices
Heat the rest of the oil in a heavy pot. Salt the pork, brown in batches, and set aside. Set heat to medium and combine ginger, garlic, and spice paste and fry for a few seconds. Add the water and salt and bring mixture to a simmer.
the mix right before the pork goes in. LOVE that color!
Add pork to spice mixture, cover, and bake in the oven for at least two and a half hours (checking occasionally to see if there is enough liquid) until the pork is very tender. If liquid is needed, add smallamounts of water at a time. To serve, ladle pork and spices into a bowl and serve with a side of rice.

EATER'S NOTE: This dish kicked ass right off the bat, but we finished it two nights later and it was even better. The spices and other flavors all came together beautifully. So I would think it might be best, if you can plan it, to make it one day and have it the next. I reheated it at 350* for about 30-40 minutes.


dp said...

OMG OMG OMG! I was just at Vindahlo on Tuesday and had this dish! It was amazingly tender and they do it with fried potatoes (or something) on top. So good! And I thought I should try making something like this at home. Now you post the recipe, as if the Universe wanted me to know it was listening.

BTW, their chicken wings are so finger-licking good too! And the tamarind margarita!

dp said...

Oh, and I forgot to say that you have to see Slumdog. It's so awesome!

bb said...

dp....fate plays its hand once again! that is too coincidental. The pork for this turned out exactly that tender. And yes, you should make something like this at home. I haven't had the chicken wings, but apparently that is yet another thing to put on my list!
And knowing us, Slumdog will be a dvd rental...we're movie slackers...even though I've heard it's very theater worthy.

oh, and a great pork shoulder source is QFC...they have it on sale pretty often for only $1.19 a pound for boneless!!

Ulla said...

That looks fantastic!

bb said... is! It was so complex, each bite was intense.

Jason said...

Hello fellow Portland foodie! I just ran across your blog on tastespotting. I love to cook Indian food, thanks for the post! I will have to check out Vindaloo also as I've heard great things about it.

bb said...

jason....vindalho is pretty solid, and fairly reasonably priced. you should get there soon. Thanks for your comment!

Anonymous said...

BB - You mentioned a pork source...what about a spice source? Where in PDX do you pick up all those wonderful spices whole?

bb said...

anon....Whole Foods or new Seasons locally have pretty good bulk spices. With theses kind of unusual ingredients, buying in bulk is the way to go, you can buy a couple of tablespoons at a time, otherwise you have this full jar of spices you might get to...or not... in a year. Oh, also Limbo Produce on SE 39th has a great spice section too.

Sasha Gusain said...

Hello! Came across your blog through blog catalog. My husband and I are Bombay bloggers, so when I noticed this post I was curious!

Yes, we love our pork, also our beef (btw you should try beef vindaloo as well, it's delicious) and even we don't get Indian films, yoga or cow worship. Takes all kinds!