Spicy Masala Pulled Pork with Polenta and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

pressure cooker pot roast

As I mentioned in my last post, I came to the US, my second home, four Decembers ago. I immediately fell in love with the breathtaking beauty that surrounds us here in California. I love the efficiency with which most systems work- everything from the post office, DMV, to paying utility bills- everything is convenient, easy to do, can even be tracked online. People follow rules, wait patiently in queues. I love how accessible everything is. From the wonderful public libraries, to neighborhood parks where my little one can feed ducks, run on thick grass and swing and slide onto soft protective mulch, to the fact that I can take public transportation where ever and whenever I need to easily, inexpensively, conveniently, safely.

The Golden Gate Bridge

Yes I felt safe here. But after Friday, I do not feel so safe anymore. Like so many of you, I too felt shock, anger, sadness, and compelled to ask questions. Why is it so easy to buy guns, why is ammunition sold at grocery stores? why can just anyone walk into a school? why isn't there better care and support for those suffering with mental health? I don't have any answers. I too just have a heavy heart, an uneasiness in the pit of my stomach that creeps up on me without warning as I go about my day. A new sense of suspicion and distrust. Who is that man with his hand in the pocket of his hoodie, lingering at that end of the aisle? Is he really just interested in that box of chocolates? who is that stranger who rang my doorbell late in the evening? When he turned out to be my new neighbor who was going to be moving in next-door, I felt bad for having greeted him with suspicion instead of warmth.

But although now the cheerful carols sometimes grate on my nerves, and I feel a pang of guilt when I bake cookies while so many other mothers are mourning, I am trying to focus on keeping this holiday season special and magical for my little monkey, as it should be. I join thousands of others in signing petitions to prohibit assault weapons.  Whenever the uneasiness wraps itself around me, I whisper a prayer for the grieving families and for the protection of my own.
That's all I know to do, and to bake cookies and cook a warm and comforting meal for my loved ones, and that is what I am going to stick to doing.


little hands

cookies gift boxes
Cookies from a wondeful cookie swap last Thursday with blogger friends


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One such comforting winter family meal is this delicious pulled pork cooked in Indian style masala which you can make in the pressure cooker or in your oven and though I have not tried it in a slow cooker yet, I have provided directions based on other recipes I have seen for the same amount of meat. I have used both pork and beef, and imagine that it would work well with mutton as well. I made this in the style of the meat curry that is served on special occasions in Kerala, when the meat is cooked in a wide shallow urali over a wood fire for hours until it is tender and falls apart. It is then fried usually in it's own fat. I cut down some of the of the steps especially the frying part by just browning the meat beforehand and shredding the meat at the end of cooking, to avoid the messy cutting up of the raw meat. 

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This curry reflects my shared love for India and the US and is a harmonious coming together of both countries' cuisines. It goes well with everything from rice and appams to roti to pasta, biscuits, dinner rolls.. I served it over creamy polenta and some roasted brussel sprouts.

I also want to let you know about a very special post I will be doing on Friday, which I will be sharing with a blogger I admire a lot. So don't forget to come back here on Friday! 

Recipe for Spicy Masala Pulled Pork Curry 

Ingredients for marinating the meat:
3 pounds pork or beef ( you can use a cheap and tough fatty cut like pork shoulder also known as pork butt, brisket, chuck roast etc. No need to cut it up, just keep it whole)
1/4 cup vinegar
Salt
Pepper

Rub the vinegar, generous sprinklings of salt and pepper on the meat and leave in the fridge for an hour or atleast for 15 minutes while you prep the other ingredients.

Ingredients for the gravy 
1 large yellow onion sliced thin
1 head of garlic -about 20 cloves peeled and smashed
4-8 thai green chillies slit in half

Spices:
2-3 tsp chilli powder ( depending on how spicy you like things)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander powder
3 tsp garam masala powder ( Available at Indian grocery stores or I like the Penzey's brand too)

2 bay leaves or 8 curry leaves ( I was out of curry leaves so used the bay leaves for a slightly different taste) 
4 tomatoes diced
1 1/2 cups of water
A few drops of liquid smoke ( Optional, for that wood fire cooked taste- use very sparingly)

Directions:

Heat a large, heavy cast iron or other skillet over medium-high heat.
Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan and heat it until the oil is smoking hot.
Using a pair of tongs place the marinated meat into the pan and sear, turning after about 5 minutes so that the meat is well browned on all sides. 
Transfer the browned meat to the pressure cooker, dutch over or other oven safe pot with a lid or into your slow cooker
Keep the skillet with the drippings from the meat on the stove and turn the heat to medium-high.
Add the garlic and onion to the drippings and stir just until they turn brown.
Now add the green chillies and curry leaves ( if using) and stir for a minute.
Add the spice powders and stir for a minute or so until the spices are cooked and no longer smell raw.
Transfer the onion garlic and spice mixture on to the meat.
Pour in the water into the skillet to deglaze the pan and pour over the meat in the pressure cooker, dutch oven or slow cooker
Add in the diced tomatoes and bay leaves ( if using) and a drop of the liquid smoke (if using) 

If using a pressure cooker ( 5 lt or larger) :
Put on the lid and weight on, turn the heat on to medium and cook until the meat falls apart when you pull at it with a fork and is tender. (I let my pressure cooker whistle two to three times, but please follow the directions that came with yours)
Switch off the heat and let the steam release naturally and then open the lid.
Shred the meat using two forks. If the meat does not shred or pull apart easily, you will need to cook it longer. 
Mix the shredded meat with the liquid in the pot and let it simmer stirring occasional on med low heat until the gravy is thickened.

If using a slow cooker:
Cover the slow cooker and set it on low and cook for 8-10 hours until the meat shreds and pulls apart easily.

If using an oven:
Cover your dutch oven or oven safe pot with a lid or piece of foil and place in the  preheated to 350 F  oven for 3 hours until the meat pulls apart easily.
The meat must be soft, if it seems tough, you have to cook it longer.

You can serve it right away or when it is cooled, refrigerate it and serve it the next day when the flavors have a better chance to meld. The next day the fat from the meat would have collected on top and you will be easily able to scrape it off and discard. 
Since this makes quite a lot for just the three of us, I freeze half the portion for later, and it freezes very well.

How to make Polenta:

Boil 4 cups of salted water and add 1 cup of polenta ( I use the Golden Pheasant brand), stirring until thickened. Lower the heat and stir for about 20 more mins. Stir in a pat of butter, some pepper, a cup of frozen or tinned corn kernels and heat through. 

How to Roast Brussels sprouts

Slit them in half or quarter them, cutting away the ends and discarding outer leaves. 
Drizzle some oil over them and season with salt and pepper, mixing well
If you are cooking your meat in the oven, just slide a baking sheet with the Brussels sprouts on a lower rack to roast those as well for about 1 hour. 

Else preheat the oven to 400 F and place the Brussels sprouts either on a baking sheet or oven safe dish for about 40 mins till crisp on the outside and tender within. 

11 comments:

  1. Loving the east meets west twist. Looks so delicious Rose!

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  2. I am so hungry for dinner now!!!
    I had so much fun with you at lunch last week;-) I appreciate your words on the school shooting-it does make us all feel so sad and unsafe...
    Your photos are lovely and reminds me of how blessed we are to live in our area;-)

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    1. I had such a great time too Patty! Thanks so much again for inviting me :)

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  3. the 4th pic looks really professional..n that pulled pork recipe sounds perfect for christmas. have heard so much about smoking dishes but havent tried it yet..now i should go around looking fir liquid smoke :)

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    1. Thanks Nisha :)) I like the liquid smoke taste but the hubs doesn't -he says it doesn't substitute the taste of real smoking. If you do use it, use it very sparingly :)

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  4. You know my love for pork and with creamy polenta, the meal couldn't get any better! So perfect for the cold winter.

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  5. Great minds think alike - I made a lamb stock polenta with Maple, Balsamic and Lemon Glazed Brussels Sprouts. I don't eat pork so I think I will try to replicate your dish with beef, lamb or chicken to complete the meal!!

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  6. I am a big big fan of Staub Casseroles! You can use them so many different ways!

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  7. Thank you so much for this recipe! I made this last night for me and it was amazing. I normally don't like polenta, and I felt hesitant even after making it, but it complemented the pork perfectly! I cannot wait to make this dish again.

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