I was first introduced to Pork Havana in 1972 on a visit to Key West. It was delicious and I especially liked the accompaniments of black beans and fried plantains. Plantains, a variety of banana, are among the principal starches of the West Indies. They are not sweet at all, unless you allow them to ripen almost to the point of blackness, which is the thing to do. You will find them in Spanish markets.
The marinade for the pork includes lime. True Pork Havana is made with a whole pork roast and is marinated with sour oranges, which I encourage you to use if you can locate some.
This recipe is an example of how we take a standard dish and shuffle the components to yield a more modern look, taste, and feel, transforming the solid structure of the classic into a fresh and appealing new version. Note that you must make some preparations a day ahead.
Pork and Marinade
1. Cut and squeeze orange and limes into a large ceramic or glass bowl. Add the fruit rinds, olive oil, garlic, peppercorns, cilantro, and bay leaves and mix well. Add the pork and marinate overnight in refrigerator.
2. The next day, begin by making the sauce: Cook the diced slab bacon in peanut oil in a deep, heavy-bottomed pot, stirring often. When bacon is almost cooked, add the diced vegetables and stir.
3. When the vegetables are soft add the drained beans and cook 1 minute. Add the cumin and cayenne and stir. Add the stock and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Skim stock, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook beans until just soft and reserve. (It's possible the beans will require more stock as they cook.) Taste for seasoning and adjust to your liking.
4. Dredge plantain slices in seasoned flour. Gently cook floured plantain slices on both sides in 1/4 cup clarified butter until golden. Remove plantains to a plate to drain on paper towels until serving time.
5. Shortly before serving time, remove meat from marinade, season with freshly ground pepper, and sauté medium-rare to medium in a hot skillet; keep warm.
6. Refry plantains in 1 tablespoon butter and remove from pan.
7. Ladle the black bean sauce into the same pan that you used to sauté pork, and heat quickly. Add a splash of Spanish vinegar and divide sauce among plates.
8. Slice each of the pork tenderloins into 1-inch slices. Arrange meat and plantains alternately over the sauce. Garnish each serving with sour cream, lime wedges, and red onion slices.
Feast of Sunlight
by Norman Van Aken
The Harvard Common Press
Reprinted by permission.
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