Back in the late summer/early fall when we were drowning in eggplant from my plot at the community garden, I had started to put it in almost everything I cooked. For example, in the lamb shanks curry that I posted a recipe for in early September. Buoyed by the success of that dish I kept on going, adding it to more meat dishes made with Indian ingredients. This is another that turned out very well.
I was also trying to free up space in our chest freezer for all the tomato sauce I was freezing for the winter and one of the things that had to go was the pork from the last pig we split with friends earlier this year. And so this pork shoulder got the eggplant treatment as well. I’m calling the dish “Oven-Braised Pork Shoulder with Eggplant” but you could just as easily think of it as pork curry with eggplant, just made in the oven rather than on the stove top. The meat is browned and removed; shallots, ginger and garlic are then sauteed with spices in the way they usually are in meat curries, tomato is added and cooked down. The eggplant—cut into thick segments so it holds its shape—goes in next, the browned shoulder is placed on top and then the whole is slow cooked in the oven. When done the pork is pulled off the bone and shredded and mixed in gently with the sauce and the eggplant. You can eat it with rice or parathas as you would a pork curry or you can eat it with dinner rolls or similar too.
- 3 lbs (or thereabouts), bone-in pork shoulder
- 1/2 tspn zeera/cumin seeds, powdered coarsely
- A few grindings black pepper
- 2 large shallots (about 1/2 lb), thinly sliced
- 1 tblspn crushed garlic
- 1 tblspn crushed ginger
- 3/4 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
- The following ground together to a fine powder: 1 tblspn zeera, 1 tblspn coriander seeds, 1 tspn methi/fenugreek seed, 1 small piece cinnamon, 3-5 dried red chillies of desired heat, 1 tspn black peppercorns
- 1/4 tspn ground nutmeg
- 1 lb fresh tomatoes, chopped (or the equivalent in good canned tomatoes)
- 1/2 lb long eggplant, cut in half lengthwise and then cut into pieces roughly 3″ in length
- 3-5 slit Thai chillies
- 1.5 cups water, fresh off the boil
- Cilantro for garnish
- 2 tblspns neutral oil of choice
- Heat the oven to 300f.
- While the oven is coming to temperature, rub the pork shoulder all over with the coarsely powdered cumin, the pepper and a few pinches of salt, heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat (enamelled cast iron is best) and brown the shoulder all over—it will probably take at least 20 minutes to get it nicely browned.
- Remove the browned shoulder to a plate and add the sliced shallots to the Dutch oven. Saute the shallots till beginning to caramelize.
- Add the ginger and garlic and saute till the raw aroma is gone.
- Add the haldi, the ground masala and the nutmeg, mix thoroughly and saute for another minute or so.
- Add the tomatoes and salt, mix in and cook till the tomatoes have mostly cooked down.
- Add the eggplant, mix in and cook till just beginning to soften (a few minutes).
- Return the pork shoulder to the Dutch oven and arrange the eggplant around it.
- Add the slit green chillies and the hot water, bring to a high simmer, cover the Dutch oven, place in the center of the oven and cook for at least 3 hours, beginning to monitor the tenderness of the meat at about the 2.5 hour mark.
- Once the meat is cooked to your liking, remove the pork to a cutting board and pull/slice it apart.
- Return the pulled/sliced meat to the pan, mix in gently, garnish with the cilantro and serve with steamed rice or parathas with dal and greens on the side.
- I used Kashmiri chillies for the colour and milder heat for the kids’ benefit. Feel free to up the heat.
- I used shallots because I had a lot from our CSA. If you don’t have any feel free to sub red onion.
- If so inclined you could lightly toast the spices for the main masala before grinding them (make sure to cool them first).
- You could do more or less the same with beef or lamb, though the oven time would change.
Looks great. Just curious, how fatty is the masala when done? There is quite a bit of fat in a typical pork shoulder, and I would think most of that would render into the masala while cooking. Did you trim most of the external fat off the shoulder first? Thanks.
It’s not health food but it’s not outrageously fatty when done. We get our pork from a local farm and it’s processed at a local meat locker. I’m used to how they trim the roasts, which may well involve removing more fat than is usual with commercial cuts. Some of the external fat also renders when you brown it at the first step and if yours is very fatty you could drain some of it before sauteeing the shallots/onions etc.