Sunday, December 10, 2006

Haitian Grillots with Ti-Malice Salsa

If asked to name a single personal signature dish, the grillots (griots) pictured above could be it. I've been making this for 34 years and like to think of the actual grillots preparation as my own creation, though in truth, it's a composite of several different recipes. Over the years, I've fixed the Ti -Malice Salsa at least a dozen ways and concluded that one of the two recipes given in Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz's The Complete Book of Caribbean Cooking not only works best, but is unique to the point that even referring to it as "Ti-Malice" could be a stretch.

Pork pieces that have spent time in a Seville (bitter) orange juice marinade prior to being baked, broiled, or fried had long been ubiquitous throughout Latin America and the Caribbean before becoming popular in the United States. The version you're getting here is specifically Haitian. When sourcing seville orange juice has proven difficult or inconvenient in Baltimore, I've successfully substituted various combinations of orange juice, lemon juice, lime juice, and ultimately grapefruit juice. My conclusion is that mixing equal amounts of all four works even better than the real thing.

Another modification that makes all the difference in the world is to cut the pork into one inch pieces as opposed to the larger cubes that seem to be the standard for most variations of this dish.

Here's how it all evolved. The Complete Book of Caribbean Cooking, by Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz has several different recipes for pork pieces, two of which are from Haiti. One of the two is "griots de porc," which she translates as "Glazed Pork Pieces." The other is "Nicole Scott's grillots," which she translates as "Baked Pork Cubes." The book also has two recipes for Ti-Malice Sauce. One is "sauce ti-malice," translated as "hot pepper sauce." The other is Nicole Scott's sauce ti-malice," which will be shared here exactly as it appears in Ortiz's book. To marinate the pork, however, we've eschewed the Nicole Scott method in favor of a marinade similar to the the one Ortiz gives for "griots de porc," but substituting orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit mix for bitter or Seville orange juice.

Our technique for cooking the marinated pork is influenced by the recipe for "Pork Tidbits (Griot)" in the 1980 edition of the Culinary Arts Institute's Caribbean Cookbook.

Here's the full preparation:

Nicole Scott's Ti-Malice sauce

1/2 cup vinegar, preferably cane
3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, scraped and finely diced
1 cup finely chopped cabbage
3 radishes, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and allow to stand for 1 hour before using.
from The Complete Book of Caribbean Cooking by Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz, 1973, M. Evans and Company , Inc. New York

Haitian Grillots

2 1/2 pounds shoulder of pork cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
1 fresh hot pepper (preferably habernero or Scotch bonnet), chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup bacon drippings
salt and pepper to taste

Place the pork pieces in a heavy covered casserole with all the ingredients except for the bacon grease and allow to stand for at least 1 hour at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. Then place the pork and marinade in a Dutch oven, cover tightly , and boil over high heat until all the liquid from the marinade has evaporated and the only remaining liquid is bubbling fat. Add bacon drippings, and fry over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the meat is brown and crisp.

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