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The Importance of a Good Butcher

One of my all-time favorite party foods is Griot (Haitian fried pork). Not only do I love the flavor, but since it was generally only served at parties, for me it will always be tied to a good time and fond memories.

As I mentioned last week, there were certain things that were so easy to find in most grocery stores, and finding pork shoulder cut in to small pieces (which is what the recipe calls for) was easy to find, much like finding beef for beef stew or chicken drumsticks. Can you even imagine going into a grocery store and not being able to find chicken pre-packaged and ready to go?

Technically, pork shoulder was always available, but it only came in roast form. I tried a few times to ask at the meat department (in multiple grocery stores) if they could just cut it for me, but they looked at me like I was insane. One person even told me they had to go ask their manager about it like it was seriously that big a deal.

In the interest of removing aggravating scenarios from my grocery shopping, I decided to just pick up the whole roast and then go home and cut it myself. It was then that I realized that I'd signed up for a project that I was unequipped to handle. I spent hours trying to cut that roast, and considered giving up halfway through. There were people coming, though, and I had promised a Haitian dish. Since I already had the pork, I persevered, but I vowed that this would be the last time I made this dish in Seattle.

I suppose I could talk about the importance of a good knife as well, but what I quickly decided was that if I wanted to save time, I'd better find a good butcher who would happily cut the pork for me.

The experience was night and day. They didn't look at me strangely; they didn't flinch or go for backup when I asked them to cut my pork shoulder as if for a stew. They just cut it, and then asked what I was making and inquired about what made it different. And I vowed always to get my pork from the friendly butchers.

Fair warning about the recipe: it's definitely party-sized because this is generally a party food. Since it's made for sharing, be sure to invite your friends to enjoy it with you.

Griot (Haitian Fried Pork)

Ingredients: 5 lbs of Pork Shoulder, cubed (like you would cut for stew) 2 limes 8 cloves garlic, minced 3 teaspoons season salt 3 teaspoons black pepper 2 teaspoon adobo 5 teaspoons dried basil 1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning 1 teaspoon chicken base 1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Table Blend 7 cups water 1 quart frying oil

Directions: 1. Clean the pork shoulder with 1 1/2 limes; save the last 1/2 for later. 2. Rinse with cold water and drain. 3. Mix in remaining ingredients (including juice from the 1/2 lime) except for water and oil and toss. 4. Refrigerate overnight (or for at least 4 hours). 5. Cook on high heat with 7 cups of water for one hour (or until tender). Add water as necessary to prevent from drying. 6. Add the oil to a deep pan and heat on high for 5-10 minutes (it should be hot enough to sizzle). Reduce heat to medium. 7. Fry the pork in the oil for 1 minutes or until golden.*

*You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your pan. The pork should be completely submerged in the oil for even frying. I actually use a deep fryer, which makes to frying more consistent and less messy.

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