13 May 2009


Creole food mixes European and African influences, throws in a lot of seafood and spice and forms a longstanding culinary fusion.

Babette de Rozières book, Creole, is a feast for the eyes and the taste buds. A Guadeloupean chef, de Rozières, bringing the highly spicy flavors of Creole mixed with the indigenous fruits, vegetables and seafood of the West Indies into an explosive mix. The recipes are long but not terribly involved. In order to get a great Creole mélange of flavor, you need to add a lot of herbs and spices.

I find a lot of the recipes call for the addition of bouillon granules but if you examine bouillon cubes they seem to be largely salt and coloring, so I leave them out.

Creole features a lot of ingredients that are a bit difficult to find in most places, however there are some simple substitutions.

Babette’s West Indian-style Pork Ragout

4 1/2 pounds pork loin with rind
1 quantity Meat and Poultry Marinade*
2 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 tablespoon superfine sugar
2 bay leaves
2 scallions
1 sprig thyme, leaver removed and slightly chopped
1 chive
1 onion, coarsely chopped
clove garlic, coarsely chopped
pinch ground cumin
pinch quatre-épices
salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Cut the pork loin into large pieces and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours.

Hear the oil with the sugar in a deep-sided skillet of frying pan to caramelize it. When the caramel is very brown, almost black, add the drained pieces of meat and mix immediately. Brown the meat well for about 10 minutes, occasionally adding a few drops of water.

When the meat is well caramelized, add enough water to cover. Add the bay leaves, scallions, thyme, chives, onion and garlic, to taste, then the cumin and quatre-epices. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and boil vigorously over medium heat for about 40 minutes.

When the meat is cooked, remove from the liquid and keep warm. Strain the cooking liquid into a saucepan and return to the stove. Mix the cornstarch and bouillon into one cup water and pour into the cooking liquid. Reduce and thicken for about three minutes then pour over the meat.

I like to use this recipe with country style pork ribs. They are cheap, already cut up, and quite flavorful.

*Meat and Poultry Marinade

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
pinch ground cumin
salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar

Chop the meat or poultry into pieces and place in a large container. Add the onions and garlic, then the cumin. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the oil and vinegar. Mix well, cover and chill for 2 to 3 hours before cooking.

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