A celebration of onions: Haitian griot and and pikliz

Haiti is an island in the Caribbean. Therefore, as seems to be the case for most of the islands in the Caribbean, its national dish is a version of rice and peas. We didn’t want to make that again, having already made it for Anguilla, so we dug a little deeper and eventually found a recipe for griot and pikliz that was accompanied by a video of a woman (Joyce Louis-Jean) who was so enthusiastic about the dish that we figured it must have something going for it – even if griot is deep-fried pork (which Miranda didn’t expect to like) and pikliz is very vinegary pickles (which Ash didn’t expect to like).

This is a multi-stage dish, so you want to make sure you’ve planned ahead before you start making it. The pikliz needs to mature for at least 12 hours, but a few days is even better. The pork needs to marinate overnight (although if you get home late the night before you make it, you could do our trick of getting up early on the day of cooking and quickly organise it then…). The pork then needs to braise for a couple of hours before eventually being deep-fried. The aforementioned enthusiastic Haitian woman assured us that all of this effort was worth it, though, so four days before we planned to cook this dish, the pikliz process began…

Griot and pikliz

Ingredients
For the pikliz (we halved this and still had LOADS – leftovers are good on a sausage sandwich, for what it’s worth):
2 cups cabbage, shredded (200g)
1 cup carrot, grated (110g)
1 pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
3 spring onions, sliced
1 shallot, sliced
1 scotch bonnet chilli, divided (not sure what this means and we didn’t have a scotch bonnet at this point so just sliced up a couple of birds eye chillies)
2 cups white wine vinegar (you may need slightly more than this)
Salt and pepper to taste

For the griot (we also roughly halved this):
1.3kg pork shoulder, cubed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
5 spring onions, chopped
1 pepper, sliced
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 chicken stock cube
4 cloves
Juice of 2 oranges
Juice of 2 limes
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
10 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 bunch fresh parsley
1 scotch bonnet pepper, sliced
2 cups water
4 cups oil (for frying)

Brown rice, red beans and fried plantain to serve

Method
1. For the pikliz, combine all the ingredients except the vinegar in a bowl and mix well.
2. Pack everything tightly into a sterilised jar (or jars) and cover with the white wine vinegar. Put on the lid and store in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
3. For the griot, put everything except the oil and water in a large cast-iron pot and mix thoroughly. Cover and put in the fridge to marinate overnight.
4. When it is time to start cooking, preheat the oven to 180C.
5. Put the pork pot on the stove, add the water and bring to the boil.
6. Transfer the pork to the oven and braise for 1 1/2 hours (or until cooked through and tender).
7. Pick out the pieces of pork and set them aside. Dry them with a paper towel to make sure there is no moisture. (Side note: At this point, if you can handle the heat of the scotch bonnet, the remaining marinade makes a handy snack for cooks who may well be starving by now.)
8. Heat a pot of oil to 180C.
9. Add the pork in batches and fry until a deep golden brown colour (about 5-7 minutes).
10. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and continue until the pork is all cooked.
11. Serve with pikliz, rice, beans and plantains.
Serves 4-6 (with plenty of leftover pikliz)

1135a Pikliz mix compressed

1136a Pikliz stage one compressed

1137a Early start compressed
This is what time you’ll have to get up on the day of cooking (for us a Sunday) if you haven’t marinated the pork the night before…

1138a Griot ingredients compressed

1139a Marinade compressed

1140a Cooked pork compressed

1142 Griot and pikliz (and plantains, rice and beans)

It is worth noting that there are some comments below the original recipe that suggest a few alternatives, such as blending the marinade ingredients together before putting on the pork. Not being Haitian, it is hard for us to know which is the most accurate method of cooking, but we can certainly comment on what we ate, and we (somewhat unexpectedly) have to comment favourably. This dish is reliant on combined forces: the griot on its own was a little dry and oily (yes, somehow both at the same time); the pikliz on its own was a touch too sharp. However, put the two together, and the best bits of each really sang. They created a tangy, crunchy, Caribbean feast! The variety of onions referenced in the title of this blog also worked well to build a depth of flavour.

Would we make it again, though? Honestly, probably not. Although we enjoyed it, we didn’t love it, and the time commitment (and faff factor) didn’t really reap enough of a reward to be worth bothering with again, particularly as we don’t tend to gravitate towards deep-fried or pickled things. It was good to have a new thing to eat next to rice and beans, though!

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