Simple Pork Vindaloo

Pork Vindaloo lr

Serves a hungry 4

In my last post I talked about all things slow cooker. So, as you might expect, here is another slow cooker recipe.

This is possibly the easiest recipe I have ever published. It shows that you don’t need to slave in the kitchen to serve up fabulously tasty food.

I recently published a recipe for a simple pork curry cooked in a slow cooker. This is a very similar dish, but even easier! It really does show that with the right basic techniques you can make a fantastic curry very simply using shop bought ingredients. This is where a slow cooker shows its mettle. The results are delicious.

I use Patak’s vindaloo spice paste, simply because that is the brand that my local supermarket stocks but I’m sure other brands may work just as well.

Be careful not to add too much salt at the start. Shop-bought spice pastes are quite salty to start with. You can always add more salt later but you can’t take it away!

My slow cooker has three settings – low, medium and high. I find I get the best results if I start it off on medium for one hour and then turn the heat down to low for the rest of the cooking time. If you don’t have a medium setting, just cook it on low from the start.

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1.5kg pork neck (or shoulder), trimmed and cubed (I get my butcher to do this for me)
3 onions, sliced
2 tsp minced garlic (from a shop bought jar)
2 tsp minced ginger (from a shop bought jar)
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 x 283g jar of Patak’s Vindaloo Spice Paste
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes (I use Mutti pulped tomatoes)
1 chicken stock cube dissolved in a little boiling water
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons (at least) of red wine vinegar

Heat the oil in a wide based pan then brown the pork in batches, using a slotted spoon to remove each batch to a bowl once it is browned. Once all the pork has been browned, add a little more oil to the pan if needs be then slowly soften and brown the onions, approx. 20 minutes. Add the minced garlic and ginger and stir fry for 1 minute. Add the black pepper and vindaloo spice paste and stir fry for another minute, making sure the mixture doesn’t catch.

Add the coconut milk, tomatoes, stock and salt and bring to a simmer. Return the pork to the pan and bring it all up to a gentle simmer.

Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. At the end of that time you may find a lot of oil has risen to the surface (the amount will depend on how fatty your pork was). Skim off and discard the oil, then give everything a good stir. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning adding salt if needs be. Stir in the red wine vinegar.

If the sauce is too runny, turn the heat on your slow cooker up to high and continue to cook uncovered until it has reduced sufficiently. I find this generally takes about an hour. Once the sauce is the right consistency, put the lid back on the slow cooker, turn the heat down to low and leave it to continue cooking until you are ready to serve. I typically cook this dish for about 10 hours in all.

Simple Pork Curry

Patak's Korma Spice Paste

Serves 4

Making a curry from scratch can be a labour of love, roasting and grinding whole spices, making and cooking off spice pastes and nursing the dish through the cooking process. This pork curry recipe is simple firstly because it uses shop-bought spice pastes and secondly, you cook it in a slow cooker. It’s packed full of flavour and the meat is as tender as you can imagine.

I use Patak’s spice pastes, simply because that is the brand that my local supermarket stocks but I’m sure other brands may work just as well. I find the mix of 2/3 Korma and 1/3 Madras is ideal.

Be careful not to add too much salt at the start. Shop-bought spice pastes are quite salty to start with. You can always add more salt later but you can’t take it away!

My slow cooker has three settings – low, medium and high. I find I get the best results if I start it off on medium for one hour and then turn the heat down to low for the rest of the cooking time. If you don’t have a medium setting, just cook it on low from the start.

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1.5kg pork neck (or shoulder), cubed (I get my butcher to do this for me)
3 onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and very finely chopped or grated
2 heaped tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 very generous pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 x 165g jar of Patak’s Korma Spice Paste
½ jar (approx. 80g) Patak’s Madras Spice Paste
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes (I use Mutti pulped tomatoes)
1 chicken stock cube dissolved in 100ml of boiling water
Salt to taste
Cayenne chilli powder (optional)

Heat the oil in a wide based pan then brown the pork in batches, using a slotted spoon to remove each batch to a bowl once it is browned. Once all the pork has been browned, add a little more oil to the pan if needs be then slowly soften and brown the onions, approx. 20 minutes. Add the garlic and stir fry for 1 minute. Add the ginger, cinnamon, chilli flakes and black pepper and stir fry for another minute, making sure the spices don’t catch.

Add all of the other ingredients except for the cayenne, return the pork to the pan and bring it all up to a gentle simmer.

Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. At the end of that time you may find a lot of oil has risen to the surface (the amount will depend on how fatty your pork was). Skim off and discard the oil, then give everything a good stir. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning adding salt if needs be and adding cayenne pepper if you want to crank up the chilli heat.

If the sauce is too runny, turn the heat on your slow cooker up to high and continue to cook uncovered until it has reduced sufficiently. I find this generally takes about an hour. Once the sauce is the right consistency, put the lid back on the slow cooker, turn the heat down to low and leave it to continue cooking until you are ready to serve. I typically cook this dish for about 10 hours in all.

BBQ Pork Spare Ribs

Baby Pork Ribs

Serves 2

These ribs are meltingly soft with the meat falling off the bones and packed full of flavour.

2 racks of baby pork ribs, cut into separate ribs
6 tablespoons BBQ sauce
6 tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons cider vinegar
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp cayenne
2 ½ tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the ribs, cover and simmer for 1 hour. This will render the fat and help to tenderise the ribs.

Mix all of the remaining ingredients together in a bowl. Drain the ribs and add them to the marinade. Stir well to coat them evenly, cover with cling film and marinate for 24 hours in the fridge. During that time stir them from time-to-time to make sure they all get plenty of marinade.

Bake the ribs uncovered in a roasting dish for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the marinade is well reduced and sticky, and all of the ribs are evenly coated.

A Perfect Pork Chop

pork-chops low resServes 1

Now, let me talk to you about pork chops. Vegans and vegetarians please look away now. This is a serious subject. As most everyone knows, a pork chop cooked to perfection is about as perfect as eating gets. I have lived most of my adult life with people telling me that tender pork is the result of good cooking, nothing to do with the quality of the meat. Three minutes on each side. Six minutes on each side. No, cook it long and slow. No, no! Braise it in stock for goodness knows how long.

Well I can declare that that is all bollocks! (Sorry Mum.) It has absolutely nothing to do with short cooking or long cooking or roasting or braising. It has everything to do with the quality of the pork! It doesn’t matter how I cook it, Maltese pork is UN_BE_LIEV_ABLE!!! It is moist and tasty and tender beyond all the laws of science and I bow down and give thanks to the great Pork Gods who give us such bounty. And I realise too that as I am writing this, no matter what a great writer I may think I am, I cannot begin to convey to you the food heaven I am talking about. There is only one way you can understand it; come to Malta and try it for yourself. They say that in life you should find one thing you are good at and stick to it. This is a brilliant example of that. Malta does the world’s best pork. But don’t expect great local beef. Or lamb. Just pork.

1 pork chop
Sea salt
Black pepper
Smoked paprika
Olive oil

Now is the time for me to tell you how to cook it. No arguments please! Take your pork chop and wash it well. This isn’t about getting it clean. This is about washing away any annoying bone fragments that may be lingering after the butchering process. Dry it with kitchen paper. Lay it in an oven proof dish (I think a glass dish works well). Season it generously with sea salt and black pepper. And then smother it with smoked paprika. Use your finger tips to spread the seasoning around. The pork chop should look a deep ruby red at this stage. Pick it up and splash a little olive oil in the dish then place the chop spice side down in the dish and move it around to spread the oil about. Season the new top side with sea salt, pepper and smoked paprika and spread that around with your fingertips too. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top.

These instructions may seem overly detailed but let me say; you are preparing the most amazing meat dish on the planet, bar none. This last bit is easy. Bake the chop in the oven at 200° for 15 minutes. Turn it over and baste it and turn the oven down to 180° and bake it for a further 10 minutes. Turn it over and baste it and bake it for a further eight minutes. These times are approximate; they all depend on the thickness of your pork chop and the efficiency of your oven. And last but definitely not least, rest it at the end. That is, once it is cooked, take it out of the oven, but leave it in the roasting dish, cover it in foil and leave it for ten minutes. And then the best bit of all. Eat it!

As you may have gathered from all of this, I had a pork chop for dinner on Saturday! And although I spend a lot of my time eating fruit and vegetables, just at this moment I feel like king of the Atkins Diet hill.

And I have decided that every year henceforth the 26th September will be known as International Pork Chop Day.