If I were to write a book titled All the Things I Know Little to Nothing About, anthropology would be there somewhere.
Even so, I am going out on a limb and say that a country’s socio-economical situation must influence its culinary culture. To me it seems self-evident.
This would explain why dishes like this berenjenas guisadas con cerdo (braised pork and eggplants) and other similar ones are so popular in our country. Meat is expensive, adding vegetables to meat dishes means dishes that are filling, and don’t require as much meat.
It’s a lucky coincidence that this is exactly what doctors naggingly recommend.
Eggplants and christophines (chayote) are two of the most popular choices for this purpose. Both vegetables are abundant, inexpensive and filling.
One less common choice is West Indies gherkin, mostly because this is a vegetable that does not lend itself to mass production and can only occasionally be found in farmers markets.
I don’t mention it in the recipe, but at home we prefer this dish spicy, although the original dish does not contain spicy peppers I add it at home. If you enjoy spicy food just one Scotch bonnet pepper will put hairs on your chest. Proceed with caution.
Another addition I have made, which is not found in the original dish, is carrots. I love carrots and will use any excuse to add it to food. You can leave it out if you want.
- 1 lb [0.48 kg] of pork cut into small pieces (blade chops or any cut for braising)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt (or more to taste), divided
- 1/2 teaspoon of pepper (or more to taste), divided
- 3 tablespoons of oil (peanut, soy or corn)
- 2 cups of water (you may need less or more)
- 1 large carrot , cubed
- 1 large onion , cubed
- 2 lb [0.9 kg] of eggplant cut into small pieces
- 1 bell pepper , diced
- 3 cups of plum tomatoes , diced
- 1/2 teaspoon of fresh oregano leaves
- 3 cloves of garlic , crushed
- 1/2 Scotch bonnet pepper , chopped (optional, see notes)
Season pork with a teaspoon of salt and a pinch of pepper. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.
Add pork and brown. Add 3 tablespoons of water and simmer covered over low heat. Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring and adding water by tablespoons as it becomes necessary to prevent it from burning or sticking to the bottom.
Stir in the carrots and simmer some more until the meat is tender (10 to 20 mins), adding water as it becomes necessary so the meat does not burn.
Let all the liquid evaporate. Add the onions, cook stirring until the onions become translucent. Stir in eggplant, bell pepper, tomato, oregano, garlic and Scotch bonnet pepper. Add 3 tablespoon of water and simmer covered over low heat until the vegetables are cooked through. Stir and add water as it becomes necessary (there should be some sauce in it). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with white rice and salad or avocado.