29 March 2013

A cheeky, porky curry

Curry de joues de porc avec oignons et carottes. That's what I call it. "Curried pork cheeks with onions and carrots." I made the curry sauce using coconut milk, but cream or half and half would work too. And instead of Indian curry powder, I used préparation pour colombo traditionnel (as per the label). That's a Caribbean version of curry powder.

Pork curried with carrots and onions in coconut milk with Caribbean colombo powder

I went to Martinique and Guadeloupe many years ago. Once there, I was surprised to see how many Indians, as in people from India, lived on the islands. And from Sri Lanka, I assume. French Wikipedia says that between 10 and 15 per cent of the people there are of indo-caribéen descent — part of the great Indian diaspora.

Colombo powder from the Antilles and coconut milk/cream from Thailand

Curried dishes, called colombos, were widely available, especially, it seemed to me, on Guadeloupe. Colombo is the main city of Sri Lanka, the island country that used to be called Ceylon, and that's where the name came from — it must be. So this is curry with a French connection. The spices used in the blend are paprika, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, star anis, cloves, mustard seeds, and saffron.

We're still buying meats from the drive-up butcher, who comes to our house on Tuesdays, and we're always looking for something different and unusual to try. A few weeks ago, we bought a kilogram of beef cheeks and made a bœuf bourguignon with them: red wine, smoked pork lardons, onions, carrots, and mushrooms. The beef cheeks were tender and tasty.

Joues de porc — pork cheeks — as they came from the butcher (above) and then all cut up for cooking

Then Walt noticed that the butcher also sold pork cheeks, so we decided to try those. Here's a whole web site devoted to recipes for cooking joues de porc. I got a kilogram of them — there must have been a dozen or so pieces — from him on Tuesday, and we made the curry. I cut all the cheeks into more or less one-inch cubes and browned them in batches in vegetable oil.

Don't forget the garlic.

Then I cut up half a dozen small onions and three big garlic cloves and cooked them in the pot I had browned the meat in. I added four big tablespoonfuls of the colombo powder, plus a pinch or two of the really hot crushed red pepper we're using right now (I crushed some Mexican dried chilli peppers using a mortar and pestle) an stirred it well to slightly toast the spices. Then I put the carrots and meat into the pot and poured in a medium-size can of coconut milk.

The meat browned and ready to go into the curry sauce

Thin the sauce to the consistency you want, add salt and black pepper to taste, and then just let the pot simmer for an hour or even 90 minutes. Oh, I also tossed in a handful of raisins, which plumped up in the cooking liquid and, with the carrots, added a note of sweetness to the finished product. We ate it with jasmine rice. Oh, and I almost forgot the knob of fresh ginger, the bay leaves, the chopped basil, and the kaffir lime leaves I added for flavor, too. All are optional. Lime juice would be good in the curry sauce if you don't have kaffir lime leaves...

I think I want to make this with turkey "oysters" soon.

The pork cheeks were as tender and succulent as the beef cheeks had been in the beef burgundy. The kilogram (2.2 lbs.) of pork cheeks cost me about 16 euros. They were worth the price, I thought. Next time I want to do this kind of curry, I think I might buy a kilo of sot-l'y-laisse de dinde. The sot-l'y-laisse (meaning "the fool leaves it there") is that tender little nugget of meat just under the thigh on the back section of a turkey or chicken. Sometimes we call it the "oyster."


  1. I am really jealous of your drive up butcher, it sounds ideal to me. We are real curry fans so I know that this would go down very well in this household. Have a good Easter. Diane

  2. Cor that sounds yummy! Got any leftovers? :-)

  3. Thanks, Diane. We'll be cooking a rabbit on Sunday. And then I leave for Paris and the U.S. on Monday.

    Susan, we're having the leftovers for lunch today. Have you ever bought sot-l'y-laisse de dinde? I've seen them in the supermarket (Intermarché, I think). I bet this kind of colombo/curry would be really good made with those, or just cut up turkey thigh meat. And with pork cheeks too, of course.

  4. In Flemish 'sot-l'y-laisse' are called 'Napoleonstukje', meaning Napoleon's morsel. Legend goes that this particular piece of meat was the only part of the chicken the 'great' emperor appreciated! Either he had a small appetite or he must have had many chickens following his armies around Europe ;) Martine

  5. That's interesting, Martine. I should have added the pronunciation in French: [soh-lee-less]. Napoleon must have commandeered the 'stukje' from every scrawny chicken fed to his gigantic army.

    Diane, and all, I meant to say Happy Easter back to you too.

  6. By the way, it's snowing now in Saint-Aignan. Not really sticking, but snowing. Ouf. Y en a marre...

  7. It's been so cold here for the last week or so that I've been thinking about making curry. Thanks for the nudge! Yours looks deelish!

  8. cant believe they sell packages of just turkey "oysters" there....how wonderful......still cold here in NC too....was below 20 this am.....easter bunny will freeze his oysters off

  9. LOL Melinda! Your curry looks yummy, I think your drive by butcher would approve of your cooking.

    I hope the snow doesn't linger.

  10. Bonjour, Ken. Were you in the DOM-TOM for work as translator or were you there on vacation?

  11. Dean, it was a work trip with a short vacation added on. I wasn't working as a translator.

    It's still cold but it's no longer snowing. Happy chilly Easter.

  12. Anything with coconut milk-- I'm in :)

    Looks like you're getting our snow! (Although ours stuck, but all 8-12 inches were melted by two days later.)

    Are you doing as you've sometimes done in the past, and going up to spend the night in Paris the first day of your trip? Hope we'll see a photo or two!

  13. Judy, I'll be staying in a hotel at the airport rather than in Paris itself. I have a fairly early flight Tuesday morning. I don't know about pictures this time. I'll be glad when I arrive in N.C.

  14. Okay, I give up....what are "pork cheeks"????

  15. Starman, they are just what the name says they are: the meat (muscle) under the eye of the pig, the ones that work the jaws, I guess. I've also seen them called pork cheek medallions. A Google search on pork cheeks turns up a lot of information.


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