15 January 2013

Caribbean concoction

A lot of Canadians escape the cold at this time of year by heading south to Florida, Mexico, Cuba or other West Indies destinations. I can understand the need for a break from cold weather, but these days I'm not even slightly tempted by the idea. I'm quite content to wait for the change of seasons here for my next taste of summer.

Instead, I'll conjure up some Caribbean flavours in the kitchen and warm us up from the inside. Today I made a dish based around black turtle beans, a common ingredient in South and Central American cuisine, and a pork hock which came in our meat CSA order. For heat, I've added smoked paprika and some smoked garlic which I picked up in Sainsbury's when I was in England last week.

Ingredients for Pork Hock and Black Bean stew (serves 6)

180g bacon, sliced into strips
130g onions, sliced
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp smoked garlic
1 pork hock (940g uncooked weight)
2 cups/400g dry black turtle beans (soaked in water overnight)
750ml/1½ pints water
salt & pepper

The pork hock had no skin on it, so I cooked the bacon first in a crockpot to generate some fat. Then I stirred in the sliced onions and cooked them for a few minutes until they were softened. I added the paprika and garlic and then put the pork hock in the pan to brown it. When the hock was browned, I added the beans and the water. Then the pot went into a low oven (275°F/135°C). If you've got a slow cooker, this is a great dish to make in that.

After four hours of cooking the meat was falling off the bones and the water had been transformed into a richly flavoured, thick, dark brown stock. I tasted it (mmmm, delicious) and added a little salt and pepper. This type of dish is usually better when you've let it cool and then reheat it (if you can bear to).

Then it is just a case of cooking some rice to soak up all that lovely stock made by the bones in the hock.

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