The first time I ate “fire engine,” I nearly fell out of my helm chair. Don’t get me wrong: I love spicy food. I just wasn’t expecting it at 7 a.m.
The Bahamian breakfast staple—consisting of corned beef and corn served over a bed of grits—seems innocent until the chef tosses in a handful of locally grown goat peppers. Then, it’s every man for himself.
In retrospect, such an eye-popping experience shouldn’t have been a surprise. Epicurean flair runs the gamut in the Caribbean, where sensual cooking aromas from simple to sophisticated can pervade entire neighborhoods. From the local classics made with cassava and bacalhau to pepper-pot soup and spit-roasted pork, quintessential island cuisine provides simple nourishment with rich surprises.
This galley-friendly, traditional Caribbean pork recipe meets that description, and is well worth provisioning for. It’s a Spanish-influenced crowd-pleaser that locals savor throughout the islands. (Do feel free to throw in a few goat peppers, for good measure.)
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 tablespoons oregano
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 orange, squeezed, skin grated
- 1 lemon, squeezed, skin grated
- 1 bitter orange (or 2 tablespoons vinegar)
Score the pork with a sharp knife.
Layer the sliced onions in a baking dish.
Put the remaining ingredients in a food processor to make a paste. Rub the pork on all sides with the mixture, and then place the pork on top of the onions.
Cover and refrigerate for about four hours, turning once.
Place in a preheated 450-degree oven for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 degrees. Baste every 30 minutes and cook to an internal temperature of 160 degrees (about two hours).
Let pork rest for 15 minutes before carving.