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Roast Pork Calypso

Printed From: Foods of the World Forum
Category: Latin America
Forum Name: The Caribbean Islands
Forum Discription: A whole cornucopia of flavor.
Printed Date: 17 October 2021 at 18:22

Topic: Roast Pork Calypso
Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Subject: Roast Pork Calypso
Date Posted: 05 March 2010 at 14:04
Roast Pork Calypso

From Time/Life's Foods of the World - The Cooking of the Caribbean Islands, 1970:

Quote [Jamaica's] colonial era was a time of contrast. While those who worked the fields lived on vegetables, the planters who owned the fields enjoyed a life style as elegant as any back home in Europe. Their plantations had huge kitchens and large household staffs, and they combined Old World culinary traditions with the New World plenty to produce legend-inspiring meals. They served all the vegetables that their lands produced, but the keystones of their generous cuisines were the meats...raised on the plantations. And today, long after the opulence has gone, there remains a tradition of hearty eating and a treasure of fanciful meat recipes....

For the most part, only the legend remains. The balls, the splendid dinners, the clothes and furniture and paintings brought at huge cost from Europe are no more. The legions of servants are gone. The great houses that were a mark of the wealth of the 18th Century planters have nearly all succumbed to hurricanes, termites and the inexorable pressures of modern economics....

[In spite of this], the foods and flavours of the past are on everybody's tongue. In this part of the world...much that is connected with the past is disappearing. But when it comes to food, dishes that were once enjoyed only by the rich...are being revived, gradually forming a heritage for all who live on the islands.

For some reason, this one really called to me. Maybe it was because I first read of it as we were coming out of a very long, very cold winter; or perhaps it was because I've always had an interest in history, and the complex, intertwined dynamics that were in play as the Caribbean islands were settled by Spain, France, England and The Netherlands. Maybe it was simply because I had also just finished reading James Michener's Caribbean. In any case, my interest in the area combined with Time/Life's delicious-looking recipe and beautiful picture of this dish, and I resolved to give it a try.

Quote Roast Pork Calypso

To serve 6 to 8:

  • A 5- to 6-pound lean pork loin, preferably center cut
  • 2 cups chicken stock, fresh or canned
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 2 teaspoons finely-chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 medium-sized bay leaf, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup light rum
  • 2 teaspoons arrowroot combined with 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 3 tablespoons strained, fresh lime juice

Preheat the oven to 350. With a sharp knife, lightly score the pork loin by making diagonal cuts 1/4-inch deep on the fat side. Place the pork scored-side-up in a shallow roasting pan just large enough to hold it comfortably. (If you prefer to use a meat thermometer, insert it into the loin after you have scored the fat side. Be sure the tip of the thermometer does not touch any fat or bone.) Roast the loin in the middle of the oven for 1 hour, or until the pork is golden-brown. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the loin to a cutting board or platter. Skim the fat from the juices in the pan, pour in the stock, and set the pan and its liquid aside.

With a large mortar and pestle or in a small bowl with the back of a spoon, mash the brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of dark rum, the garlic, ginger, cloves, bay leaf, salt and pepper to a smooth paste. with a metal spatula or your fingertips, spread the paste evenly over the scored side of the pork. Return the loin to the pan scored-side-up, and roast in the middle of the oven for another 30 minutes, or until the surface is crusty and brown. (The thermometer should reach a temperature of 160-165 degrees.)

Transfer the loin to a heated platter and let it rest for 10 minutes for easier carving. Meanwhile, warm the 1/4 cup of light rum in a small skillet over low heat. Off the heat, ignite the rum with a match, then slide the skillet gently back-and-forth until the flames die out.

Bring the liquid remaining in the baking pan to a boil over high heat. Give the arrowroot-and-water mixture a quick stir to recombine it and add it to the pan. Stirring constantly, cook briskly until the sauce thickens enough to coat the spoon heavily. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flamed rum and the lime juice. Taste for seasoning and pour the sauce into a heated bowl or sauceboat. Serve accompanied by - Cornmeal Coo-Coo or - Cristophene au Gratin .

When I was finally able to prepare it, it turned out very well; delicious and outstanding as advertised, with wonderful Caribbean flavours that speak to the planting days of Old Jamaica. I did have one or two minor execution issues, which I will note below, but I can easily and heartily recommend this recipe as delicious and easy, any time of the year!

As always, we begin with a shot of the goods (not pictured: the light and dark rum, also the cornstarch that I used in place of arrowroot):

Nothing exotic or complicated here, just some very appropriate components that combine to make a beautiful, flavourful meal.

I used dark brown sugar by choice, and the "plastic squeeze lime" out of necessity. The citrus fruit in the foreground was used for garnish.

A note on the rum: I used light and dark Bacardi, but some might choose to experiment a bit with other rums. I can only imagine that Meyer's Dark Rum would really set this off!

A note on the pork: the recipe calls for a center-cut, bone-in pork loin roast, but all I had available were two end-cut roasts that, when put together, totaled the required weight for this dish. they were not quite as attractive, but were perfectly adequate.

As per the recipe, I began by scoring the fat-side of the roasts and placing them in the trusty Dutch oven:

I then tossed it all into the oven to roast for an hour, uncovered, while I measured the wonderful melange of flavours that would contribute to the Caribbean flair of this dish:

On the left, dark brown sugar, and on the right (clockwise from the 12 o'clock position), minced garlic, ground ginger, ground cloves, crumbled bay leaf, fine sea salt and ground black pepper. I could have used freshly-ground black pepper for this, but The Beautiful Mrs. Tas is not fond of the pungency, so I used canned pepper.

After the roast had been in the oven for an hour so that it could transform into a wonderful, golden brown, I removed it to a platter, de-fatted the drippings and juices, and added the chicken broth:

The brown bits you see there are a couple of chunks of pork that stayed behind, I guess ~

Next, I turned my attention back to my spices and began to really pour on the Jamaica. First, I introduced the dark rum to the brown sugar:

Then, I added the spices:

Then I crushed, stirred and combined all components together:

Until i had a beautiful, rich and aromatic glaze, which I topped the pork with:

It looks kind of like caramel topping on ice cream, only much more savory!

After that, I put the pork back into the oven for about half an hour, until the glaze had crusted nicely onto the pork:

Looking really good! Just imagine if I would have had a proper, center-cut roast for this! But even though the aesthetics were off a bit, the flavour was all there, I promise you.

Next, I prepared the citrus garnish on the platter:

And centered the roast on the platter to rest:

I then began final preparation of the sauce. The directions say to burn off the alcohol in the rum with a match, but that never works for me, so I simply combined it with the lime juice and set the mixture aside. I then heated all of the pan juices and drippings to the beginnings of a boil; then I added the cornstarch and water mixture and continued cook, reducing it down rapidly to a thick, bubbly and wonderfully fragrant caramel sauce for the roast:

When it got to the point where it coated a spoon heavily, I added the rum and lime juice:

And stirred it in to incorporate it and complete the outstanding array of flavours. I tasted for seasoning, and found to my pleasure that it was pretty much perfect, just as it was.

I carved the roast as best as i could (it was quite boney due to the nature of the cut) and served it with a simple pasta salad that The Beautiful Mms. Tas had prepared:

The picture doesn't quite do it justice, mainly because everyone wanted to eat NOW and didn't want to spend time with careful plating, judicious drizzling of the sauce and taking a few shots from different angles. The family said "FOOD," so i gave them food, and it was delicious!

I really enjoyed the savory flavour of the pork roast, especially combined with the crisp, caramelised glaze and the sweet/savory/spicy sauce. It was a very tasty combination of flavours that was very easy, yet tasted very complex and sophisticated. Everyone enjoyed this and there was no leftover pork, although there was some sauce left that I saved and used for some spare ribs that I barbecued a week or so later, with great results.

This was a true pleasure to prepare and to eat - for someone wanting to take a mini-trip to Jamaica, it is just the right choice!

A note on cooking: I prepared this in a conventional oven, but there is no reason why a person couldn't also grill it over charcoal, propane or wood, provided that one keeps an eye on external and internal temperatures, and saves the drippings (de-fatted) for use in the sauce. It is not meant for long, slow smoking, but a hint of hickory or some other nice smoke surely wouldn't hurt and would certainly add some nice colour as well.

Many thanks for taking a look at this, and if you give it a try, enjoy!


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Posted By: Hoser
Date Posted: 04 November 2011 at 03:49
Ron that looks absolutely magnificent! 

Pork will be on sale out this way anytime, and I'm going to have to give this one a tryThumbs Up

Go with your food!

Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 04 November 2011 at 06:09
It's worth it, Dave! I love your flair for photography settings and can imagine a great plated shot!Thumbs Up

Judging by the picture from Time/Life in the opening post, it looks to me as though bone-in center-cut pork loin roast is best; however, if you can't get that, a boneless loin or similar cut of equivalent weight (guesstimating adjustment for no bone) Should work just as well, too. I don't recommend the end cuts, as i used, unless necessary.

Good luck, if you try it!

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Posted By: curious aardvark
Date Posted: 05 November 2011 at 10:20
looks good and I think would also work well as a coating on pulled pork in the smoker :-)

Oh yeah and I approve of not burning off the alcohol Thumbs Up

Beware the slings of outrageous fortune (bows and arrows are for wimps ;-)

Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 05 November 2011 at 10:47
This should definitely be good on barbecue, as long as it was treated like a baste or glaze (applied during the last hour or so of cooking) rather than as a rub; with all that sugar, it would turn black fast!

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Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 04 April 2012 at 11:52
@ Tas,
This recipe interests us ! We would love prepare ... However, in May, when weather is alot better.
It is 17 centigrade degrees and drizzling, harder and harder ... we are lucky, I packed the big umbrella ... It always rains during Semana Santa ( Holy Week ) ...
Thanks for posting this interesting porc roast.
Margi & The Vet.

Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 04 April 2012 at 11:58
You're very welcome, Margi - it is certainly worth a try. The sauce in particular is, as they say, to die for! Tongue

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Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 24 April 2012 at 10:13
Back when the snow was still flying, I prepared this dish again, pretty much as before, except for the fact that I used a boneless sirloin roast rather than a bone-in loin roast:
We served the roast pork with some simple mashed potatoes, to which I added a couple of envelopes of Sazón Goya con Culantro y Azafran:
They tasted great, and were appropriate for the dish; however, the colour, as you can see, was a little weird:

Having said that, I can strongly recommend this dish for anyone wishing to get a real taste of English Colonial Caribbean cuisine. I can't wait to try this sometime this summer, using the flavours highlighted as part of a profile for grilling or barbecue. This method produces an outstanding array of flavours, and I am willing to bet that, with a few small adaptations, it would be great for any number of variations, including ham, barbecued pork roast, pork ribs, or grilled pork chops.

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Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 12 October 2016 at 09:38
My #2 son, Mike, made this for supper last night, using a boneless pork loin roast. It was a very welcome aroma to come home to after a crazy day at work!

We were missing a few ingredients (brown sugar, rum and lime juice), but he came up with some acceptable substitutes (coconut sugar, chicken stock and lemon juice) and produced a very fine meal. A few of the subtle points were missing, but over-all, it was very good. It was also very well prepared, with the sauce complimenting the roasted pork nicely. The pork itself was darn-near perfect - neither over-done nor under-done - moist, tender and succulent.

The marriage of Britain and the Carribean is a wonderful wooing; it's too easy and too good not to try, folks, so give it a shot!

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Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 06 May 2019 at 09:24
We made this again for supper last night, and it was probably our best preparation yet.

I followed the recipe almost exactly, except for a few minor but necessary substitutions:

1. We had no rum in the house, dark or light, so I made do with some sherry.

2. Lacking limes or any other citrus, we used a touch of white wine vinegar.

3. Cornstarch (also known as corn flour) was used, rather than arrowroot.

4. Our locally-raised-and-processed pork loin roast (just a hair over 4 pounds) was boneless, rather than bone-in.

Other than that, the recipe, ingredients and amounts were closely followed, with absolutely great results. I prepared the roast in a large, 13-inch cast-iron skillet and at every stage did my best to maximise flavor, letting the home-grown pork shine with just the right amount of support from the ingredients. The loin roast had a really nice quarter-inch cap of fat on it, which I scored in accordance with the instructions. The spicy, sweet-savory brown sugar baste worked its way throughout the scored surface as it crisped up beautifully, with the excess falling off and becoming part of the aromatic, well-balanced sauce.

Because the roast was lighter (in terms of weight) than that called for in the recipe, I was concerned about the cooking times; however, since it was quite a thick roast, I did follow them. I was worried that I might be over-cooking the roast; however, after the total time of 90 minutes in the oven, I actually found that the juices coming from the roast were still quite red, so I gave it another 15 minutes. The result was nearly perfect, with just a hint of pink in the middle of the roast, which was very juicy and tender enough to cut with a fork.

As I said before, probably my best preparation yet, in terms of appearance as well as taste, with a well-browned fat cap and smooth, rich sauce. It is regrettable that I didn't have a camera handy, because it came out looking far better than any time before. I don't think I could have asked for a better execution of this recipe, given my substitutions.

If anyone is interested in trying this, I'd encourage you to go ahead and throw caution to the wind. This unique recipe captures the flavours and spirit of the Caribbean as I think of it, and it makes a fine addition to nearly any table.


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Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 07 May 2019 at 08:39

Well written history and of course, now I know what to do with all that Cuban Dark Golden Rum !!!

Ha Ha ..

Sounds lovely.  

What do you suggest in kilos for  a small  pork roast ?  bone in or no bone ?

Can you use fresh ginger instead of a bottled versión ? 

Also have several stocks in freezer ..  

Thank you in advance. 

Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 07 May 2019 at 09:26
Hi, Margi -

The pork loin roast that I used for this cook was boneless and 4.05 pounds (a bit under 2 kilos). It was slightly "thicker" than normal, and turned out very well, with an additional 15 minutes added to the cooking time. I would suggest that for a bone-in pork roast, 2.5 kilos would probably be just about right; for boneless pork loin roast, 2 kilos. Of course, you can always use the usual indicators to know when the roast is done to the correct temperature, including an internal thermometer, if you have one.

A sirloin roast would be an acceptable substitute, but I would not recommend a shoulder or belly for a first attempt at this recipe, as these would probably require different cooking temperatures and time due to the fat and connective tissues. After becoming familiar with this recipe, I believe that a shoulder roast or belly could really benefit from this profile, with some adaptation to the procedure.

As for the ginger, I see no reason why fresh ginger couldn't be used; it should be no trouble, but I would guess that you would have to use much more fresh to get the same flavor as using powdered. This article might provide some insight:

I hope this helps - if you do make this, please let us know how it goes. It is truly a nice recipe, with a wonderful profile.

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