In Honor of Dinner (Recipe: Rum and Ginger Pork)

Yeah, sometimes I post recipes. I should set up a secondary blog, but then I’d have to, like, write more of them down..

I’ve been trying to pull off a rum’n’coke/ginger entree for a while. I finally stumbled on a way to simulate the sweetness of the soda without having to actually use it (it tends to either saturate food without adding flavor, or burn to the pan, and the added acidity often throws off the flavor). Tart-ish apples had the right mix of sugar and acid without doing weird things when heated.

Rum & Ginger Stew
Takes ~45 minutes.

Ingredients:
per lb. of pork (steaks or chunks):
1/4 C Rum
1/4 C water
~1t smoked salt (you can sub out for about 3/4t of regular salt and a 1/2t of smoked paprika)
~1T ground or finely minced fresh ginger
2-4 medium-sized, tart apples. They don’t have to be pretty; this is a good way to use up bruised or blemished ones. Also, try to get ones that aren’t grainy the way “Delicious” varietals usually are.
Optional: ~1/2t of granulated garlic

You’ll get about 2 servings out of a pound, depending on how fatty the pork is.

Tools:
I did this in a 10″ cast-iron skillet, but any heavy pan with a lid should give you similar results. Other than that, you’ll need a sharp knife, cutting board, tongs or a spatula, and maybe a mortar and pestle.

Prep:
• Peel, chop, and grind your ginger down in the mortar. It helps to rinse out the mortar with some of your water/rum mix. You can also mince it finely and smash it on your cutting board with the handle of the knife. Scoop it all into a bowl big enough to hold the apples as well.
• Core and chop apples roughly. Don’t worry about oxidation or making it look pretty, these are going to turn into apple butter later. Toss them with the ginger and a bit of the rum/water to get the flavors steeping.
• Trim the fat off the pork steaks. Just go for major deposits, small bits are fine. If you don’t, there’s going to be too much lard in your apples to eat them..

Cooking:
• Heat pan to medium-high, then sear off the pork (I cut mine into 1/2″ steaks, and they took roughly a minute per side). Sprinkle each side with the salt and (if using) garlic or paprika after the sear finishes. (This will pull out the juices for the next step, as well as keeping the smoky flavor more in the meat and less in the sauce).
• Cut heat back to medium-low (about 2-3). Immediately add the remaining rum and water to the pan. Stand back, it’ll steam like a mother. That steam will also be intensely alcoholic, but the 50/50 mix with water will keep it from flaring up. (What you’re doing here is not just adding liquid. You’re also cooling the pan, shocking the browned juices off the bottom of it, and adding steam to help cook the pork more thoroughly. )
• As soon as the liquid in the pan stops boiling violently (should only be a few seconds), dump in the apple/ginger mixture, trying to get as much as possible of it into contact with the pan.
• Cover immediately.
• Simmer slowly, turning the pork over at least once. Stir the apples as well, making sure any intact chunks make it under the waterline. You’re done once the apples have broken down (about 30 minutes).
• Kill the heat and uncover, letting the meat rest in the hot pan for another 5-10 minutes (At this point, it’s not only re-absorbing its own juices, but some of the flavored stewing liquid as well. The last of the alcohol is evaporating at the same time).
• If you’ve done it right, there should be little to no liquid remaining at this point. Remove the pork to a shallow dish, then scrape out the delicious, delicious applesauce onto the side. Pour any remaining juices over the pork.
For future testing:
I think I’m going to try this as an oven stew with rum, pineapple and a little coconut milk next; obviously, with that much acid, it’d need to be in glass.

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