Berenjena Guisada con Cerdo (Braised Pork and Eggplant) is a rich, curry-like dish that is very popular in the Dominican Rep.
I may not be an anthropology expert, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that a country's socio-economic 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.
The art of "rendir"
Meat is expensive, adding vegetables to meat dishes means dishes that are filling, and don't require as much meat. This practice of "rendir", or bulking out our meat dishes, is something we've written about before.
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 farmer's markets.
About this recipe
I don't mention it in the recipe, but we prefer this dish spicy, although the original dish does not contain spicy peppers I add them at home. If you enjoy spicy food just add one Scotch bonnet pepper to it, it will put hairs on your chest. Proceed with caution.
One addition I have made, which is not found in the original dish, is carrots. I love carrots and will use any excuse to add them to food. You can leave them out if you prefer.
Berenjena Guisada con Cerdo (Braised Pork and Eggplant) Recipe
- 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
Seasoning pork: Season pork with a teaspoon of salt and a pinch of pepper.
Browning: Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add pork and brown. Add 3 tablespoons of water and simmer covered over low heat.
Braising: Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the meat is tender, stirring and adding water by tablespoons as it becomes necessary to prevent it from burning or sticking to the bottom.
Cooking vegetables: Stir in the carrots and simmer some more, 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, and garlic. 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 to taste.
Serving: Serve with white rice and salad or avocado.