I’ve written before, at length, about the TV show and subsequent book that was “The Best”. One of the running jokes of the series was about the complexity of chef Paul Merrett’s recipes. I haven’t checked every post of mine, but this recipe has probably the longest ingredient list (nineteen items!) of any on the blog, except maybe for my Christmas cake.
I would not blame anyone for looking at the list, thinking ‘you’ve got to be kidding’, and flipping (metaphorically speaking) to the next page. And yet (and of course there has to be an ‘and yet’!), this is not only worth the effort, but the process is actually ridiculously easy.
Hear me out. I’m not going to argue that it’s something you’d start when you get home at 6pm on a weekday, but that you treat it as the same sort of leisurely multi-day process that work so well for dishes like lasagne, or even marmalade.
Day one, or even several days before, you lightly dry fry and then grind the first eight items (the spices). Day two, blend the next five in a processor, mix in the ground spices and pork, and refrigerate (that’s 14 ingredients down). Day 3, heat the 15th (oil) and fry the next three items, before adding the pork, marinade, and final ingredient (sugar) and simmering for a couple of hours. And of course you can easily cook it a day, or several, before eating.
I find breaking the recipe into parts like that, especially to make sure I’m not hunting for spices while in the middle of cooking, makes the final day’s cooking no more stressful than combining meat with a jar of sauce.
Even if you’re not entirely convinced, it’s worth trying on the basis that the fabulous Portuguese-Goan hybrid that is a classic vindaloo is so far from the jarred version, with such complexity and depth of flavour, that it would be worth it even if it did take you all those hours!
Adapted (barely) from Paul Merrett’s recipe in ‘The Best’ cookbook
- 1 star anise
- 2 Tbs coriander seed
- 2 Tbs cumin seed
- 6 cloves
- 5cm piece cinnamon stick
- 2 tsp black peppercorns
- 2 tsp fenugreek seed
- 2 tsp fennel seed
- 1/2 red capsicum
- 2 tomatoes
- 6 red chillies
- 50ml red wine
- 50 ml red wine vinegar
- 1 kg lean diced pork (from leg or shoulder)
- 2 Tbs canola or similar oil
- 8 garlic cloves
- 1 onion
- 10cm piece fresh ginger
- 2 tsp brown sugar
Measure spices into a dry frying pan, and heat over medium heat until toasted (they should smell fabulous, but not colour much). Blitz in a spice or coffee grinder until powdered, or grind in a mortar and pestle.
Seed and roughly chop the capsicum and chillies, chop the tomatoes, and blitz in a processor with the wine and vinegar until pureed.
Stir the spices into the puree, then mix well with the pork. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or for a couple of days if you prefer.
Take the pork out so it comes to room temperature while you peel and finely chop (or process) the garlic, onion and ginger. Heat the oil over med-low heat, and gently cook the aromatics for about 10 minutes until soft and golden. Add the pork, marinade, and sugar, and cook covered over low heat (so it’s gently simmering) for 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Season to taste with salt, and serve with rice.
Serves 6 generously