Thursday, October 24, 2013

Recipes from Grenada

OK, Grenada. I knew the name rang a bell, but I wasn't sure why. As it turns out, it's because the US invaded Grenada back in the 80s. Yeah, I know, I'm really ignorant of modern history, but hey, it was the 80s. I was still a kid, I swear.

So you probably know why we invaded Grenada but I needed a refresher, so I'll just repeat what I learned from the Source of All Knowledge, Wikipedia. Grenada is an island nation in the southeastern Caribbean Sea. In 1983 we invaded it in an operation codenamed "Operation Urgent Fury." Which mostly begs the question, why can't the US military come up with less lame names for its military operations?

Anyway the invasion was because of the Big Bad Communists, which we were all so terribly afraid of back in the Regan era. How did that work out for us? Well, we got rid of the Communists. I'm not really sure what else came out of it, because I don't think we've really heard much more about Grenada since American troops left later that year.

So besides being the site of a kind of dumb invasion 30 years ago, Grenada is a big producer of many delicious things, including cinnamon, cloves, mace, ginger, allspice and chocolate. It is also the world's second largest producer of nutmeg. So really, you can thank Grenada the next time you make an apple pie or mulled wine, because if your spices didn't come from Grenada, well, they could have.

Meldrum, Saint Patrick, Grenada. Photo Credit: fakelvis.

The food of Grenada is Caribbean in nature, relying of course on crops that are typical of the region. The national dish is called "Oil Down," which I really wanted to make but didn't because it contained more than just one hard to find ingredient: breadfruit and taro leaves (callaloo) for a start, both of which I'd have to buy canned down in Sacramento if I was going to use them. So instead I opted for this, and am oh-so-glad I did because it immediately hit my list of favorite recipes for this year:

Roast Pork Calypso Style with Black Bean, Heart of Palm and Corn Salad
(This recipe comes from the message board at

For the pork:
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 3/4-pound pork tenderloins

For the sauce:
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3/8 tsp ground allspice
  • Pepper to taste
For the salad:
  • 1 16-ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen corn, thawed, drained
  • 1 7 1/2-ounce can hearts of palm, drained, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 2 large tomatoes, seeded, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste
For the presentation:
  • Fresh spinach leaves
  • 2 avocados, peeled, pitted, sliced crosswise
  • Minced fresh parsley

Now, because this is essentially a two-recipe recipe, I felt excused for only choosing one additional recipe. I did keep the pork and salad recipes together, though, because presentation demands that they be prepared and served together.

So the other recipe I chose is this one:

Grenadian Spice Cake
(from Island Recipes)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup chilled butter, cubed 
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp lime zest
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 cup milk
I liked this choice because it takes advantage of all those lovely spices grown in Grenada. So that's my menu and here goes, starting with the pork:

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Mix the shallots with the bay leaves, salt, allspice and ginger. Grind a generous amount of pepper into the mixture, then rub into the pork.

Place the pork roast on a rack in a roasting pan, then roast until a thermometer reads 150 degrees. You could really go as low as 145, because the USDA recently decided that 145 was a safe cooking temperature for pork after many years of insisting you had to cook it to 160.

Now take the pork out of the oven and let cool slightly (the recipe says to serve at room temperature, but I wanted mine to be hot so I'm afraid I broke that rule).

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and let simmer until thickened (I let mine go for maybe 30 minutes until it was the consistency I wanted, and believe me it was worth it).

Now toss the salad ingredients together. When the pork is ready, line a serving platter with spinach. Make sure you use the best looking platter you own because this dish looks amazing when you serve it. Pile the salad in the center of the platter.

Slice the pork and lay it out around the salad, alternating with avocado slices. Fish the bay leaves out of the sauce and then drizzle it over the pork and avocado. Sprinkle with a little bit of parsley and serve.

Now for the cake:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter a springform cake pan and set aside.

Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt. Cream the butter and sugar together and beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the lime zest and spices.

Slowly add the flour mixture, alternating with a little bit of milk.

Transfer the batter to the buttered pan and bake. Now, the recipe said 75 to 90 minutes but mine only took an hour. It would have burned if left in for much longer than that, so keep checking. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.

OK, so, this was an absolutely amazing feast. It looked amazing and it tasted amazing. Martin and I both ate way, way, way too much of it. My kids devoured the pork but I'm sure it will not surprise you to hear they were scared of the salad, which was ridiculous because the salad was delicious. Of course you can't tell that to children who think anything with vegetables in it must have come straight from Hell.

So how about the spice cake ... that was delicious, too. My kids thought it tasted like gingerbread and they were mostly right, since (like this recipe) a lot of gingerbread recipes I've seen in this country don't contain any actual ginger. Now, if I made this cake again I might dress it up, maybe with a dusting of powdered sugar or a thin layer of frosting, but seriously it didn't need much. I ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner until it was gone, and believe me it was gone pretty quickly.

So yes! Huge TBS success with this one, and I hope you'll try it. This meal was a real find.

Next week: Guadeloupe

For printable versions of this week's recipes:


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