Haitian Crispy Pork Cubes

Hispania (now Haiti and Dominican Republic) was the home of Buccaneers, the real “Pirates of the Caribbean”.

Although Buccaneers are a type of pirate, they are actually completely different from Pirates. “Pirate” is a more general term referring to any type of thievery on the open seas. They attack ships or towns along coasts to rob anything of value or kidnap prisoners to hold for ransom. Still lurking (think Somalia), pirates have been around since the 14th century BC.

Buccaneers, on the other hand, were basically legal pirates specific to the Caribbean. They roamed the seas for the brief period between the early 1600s to the early 1700s before becoming extinct. Whereas pirates were not affiliated to any country, Buccaneers were integrated into society and sailed under the flag of their affiliated European country as a way for them to punish enemies, mostly Spain. So, pirates are unaffiliated illegal thieves with a boat while the buccaneers were affiliated legal thieves with a boat.

Haitian Buccaneers were known for their cooking skills and created griot, fried pork cubes, as a food that could last on ships for weeks. Although the Buccaneers disappeared after 100 years, griot never did and is loved to this day by Haitians everywhere.

Haitian Griot

Of all the Haitian recipes, Griot (fried pork) is without a doubt the most popular. Maybe the reason is in the word itself, since a "Griot" was a family, or village storyteller from West Africa. More likely is that these soft-crispy pork morsels are incredibly tasty, especially when paired with pikliz, the spicy pickled cabbage found on every Haitian table. Griot is traditionally deep fried to get that perfect crispy surface. They can also be finished in the broiler to achieve similar results. Both methods are included here.  
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Course: Brunch, Lunch, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: Caribbean, Haiti
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Marinate: 8 hours
Servings: 6
Author: My Hungry Traveler

Equipment

  • Large Dutch oven with cover or large heavy pot
  • Deep fryer, Wok or Baking sheet

Ingredients

  • 3 lb Boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1½ cubes
  • 1 medium Scotch bonnet or Habanero pepper, sliced
  • 1 medium Onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium Green bell pepper, seeded, stemmed and diced
  • 1 medium Red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • ½ bunch Chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp Dried thyme
  • 5 stalk Scallion, sliced
  • 6 cloves Garlic,, sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp Black pepper, coarsely ground
  • 1 small Cube chicken bouillon
  • 2 medium Oranges, juiced
  • 2 large Limes, juiced
  • 1 large Lemon, juiced
  • ¼ cup Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  • Marinate Meat – In a Dutch oven or large pot with lid, add all vegetables and stir in the liquids. Mix in pork cubes, cover, and marinate overnight.
  • First Meat Cook – Remove from refrigerator 1-3 hours before cooking. Preheat oven to 325°F (165°C). Bring the uncovered pot to a boil over high heat and then move pot, covered, into the oven. Cook, occasionally stirring, unti meat is tender, about 1½ hours.
    Remove meat from pot with a slotted spoon. Brush off any clinging vegetables and transfer to paper towel lined baking sheet and pat down with additional paper towels to remove all moisture.
  • Prepare Sauce – Not necessary for fried version unless desired on the side. For broiled version, strain braising liquid, discarding solids. Return liquid to pot and simmer over high heat until reduced by half, approximately 25-30 minutes.
  • Finish Cooking Meat – Remove paper towels from baking pan.
    To Broil: Drizzle meat with 2 tbsp olive oil and salt. Mix to cover meat. Preheat broiler. Arrange pork cubes on the baking pan with a little space between each. Broil meat, turning occasionally, until it becomes nicely browned in spots but not dried out, around 5-10 minutes.
    To Fry: Remove sauce from pot and clean and dry it. Heat 4 cups oil in the pot or a deep fryer. Heat to 350°F (177°C). Add the pork cubes in uncrowded batches and fry until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat process until all the meat cubes are cooked. *Make sure oil is back to temperature before frying the next batch (cubes will become soggy otherwise). Salt each batch as it comes out.
  • To Serve – For broiled version, drizzle 2 tbsp oil over the meat and top with sauce. For fried version no sauce is necessary.
    For a traditional Haitian meal, serve griot hot with white rice, fried plantains, and pikliz.

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