I think it’s pretty much required when you have a cooking blog that you refer to a Thai recipe with that “Thai one on” pun at some point. I’m just getting out in front of that early. But really, the only thing Thai about this recipe is the Thai Kitchen branded red curry paste. So like 5% Thai, but 100% delicious.
Hmmm, we should have a discussion sometime about the notion of “authenticity” in cuisine at some point. It’s an interesting issue with a kaleidoscope of shades, nuance, and about a billion different lenses.
Anyway, that’s about as much blank space as I can fill before I start talking about the recipe. I don’t know how those lifestyle bloggers do it. I either have a thousand words to say on a topic that’s unrelated to food preparation or I just want to get right down to the recipe. If you guys want four hundred words about my dog or some merde before I get onto talking about the food just let me know and I’ll try to accommodate you.
Food time! This is not a beautifully subtle layering of flavors. This is one dimension of delicious flavor, perfect for a weeknight. It’s basically a five ingredient dish aside from the end-of-cooking seasoning. So, let’s cook another hunk of meat.
Red Thai Curry Pork
Procs: Enough for a party of 6 fighters
Time: About 3 hours, can go longer in a slow cooker.
Difficulty: Dump it in a pot
- Dutch oven -OR-
- A slow cooker
- 4-5 lbs of pork shoulder/ Boston Butt (bone in or bone out, given the choice I would go with bone-in)
- Red curry paste, pretty much the whole tiny jar.
- For those of you following a Paleo/ Whole30/ or otherwise don’t eat nightshades, you can sub in a combination of garlic paste and ginger paste. That’s basically what this stuff is once you remove the red chili.
- Two short stalks of lemongrass, cut in about 1 inch chunks
- Ginger paste
- 1 quart coconut water
- Kosher Salt
- Lime juice (not pictured – you can use key lime juice if you want a little extra sweetness)
- Salt the pork. Rub it with the red curry paste. Get the paste all over and work it into any crevices in the meat. (If you have nitrile gloves sitting in your kitchen cupboards like I suggested in the Salsa Verde recipe, this is another good time to put one on.) I use at least two thirds of the paste on the pork. Put the pork in the cooking vessel.
- Add a few blobs of ginger paste and a few blobs of the red curry paste. Dump in the lemongrass.
- Pour in the coconut water until it comes about two thirds of the way up the pork.
- If using a slow cooker, set it to high heat, cover and let it go for up to 5 hours. – OR – If using a Dutch oven, pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees. Set the pot over medium-high heat until you hear it come to a simmer. Transfer the lidded pot to the oven. Cook for about 3 hours, ideally flipping the meat halfway through.
- Optional but recommended: let the pork cool for 30 minutes in the pig-and-coconut juice to soak some of it up while it rests. Resting meat is important.
- Transfer the pork hunk to a large bowl and use a pair of forks to shred it. Add a ladle or two of the juice (don’t put any of the lemongrass in the pork. It will not have softened) and toss to cover the meat in the flavorful juice.
- Adjust the seasoning to your taste with salt and lime juice.
Serving Suggestions: I like this over rice to soak up some of the juice. Plantains (sweet or fried) also make a nice side with their starchiness and slight sweetness if you aren’t doing grain.
DLC: If there are leftovers, you’ve got the makings of some great fried rice.
ProTip: So why salt meat before cooking? Because salting through the cooking process brings out more flavor and makes the dish better seasoned over all. Always salt either right before you put the meat to the heat or at least an hour ahead of time. (There’s no limit to how far in advance you can salt meat.)
But when you can’t taste the meat yet, how do you know when it’s salted enough? A good guideline is to imagine a parking lot after a ten-minute snow flurry. Pick up the salt in a three-finger claw grip and sprinkle it from a height of no less than eight inches to achieve a good distribution without creating any areas reminiscent of the Dead Sea.