Haitian Pork Griot

Djanan Kernizan and Emily Stevens

To me, the term griot translates to family, home, and ethnic roots. Growing up, my mother cooked griot every Thanksgiving and Christmas; it was a holiday staple in my household. I have vivid memories of her spending hours in the kitchen marinating the pork in different spices and vinegar, in order to create a meal full of love, flavor, and culture. My parents grew up eating this dish in Haiti, and I feel a deep connection to my Haitian culture and to my parents whenever my mother cooks it in our New York City home. Griot is more than food to me. It is a vessel that allows for some of the people I love the most in this world to come together, to eat, to share our stories, and most importantly, to love.

Ingredients for Pork Griot:

  • 3 lbs pork shoulder (ask the butcher to cut into 2” cubes)
  • Juice of 3 ½ limes
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 heaping tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • ½ Vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 tbsp. Worcester sauce
  • 1-2 scotch bonnet or habanero peppers
  • 5 sprigs of thyme
  • ¼ tsp. Lawry’s seasoning salt
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 packet Sazon Goya seasoning

Ingredients for Pikliz:

  • 1 cup chopped cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • ½ Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 scotch bonnet or habanero peppers (depending on heat preference)
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 8 whole peppercorns
  • 2-3 cups white vinegar
  • 1 clove of garlic 1-2 scallions, thinly sliced

Ingredients for Fried Plantains:

  • 2 green plantains cut into 1” rounds
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • Canola oil

Prep the pikliz the day before you plan to serve this recipe. Prepare all of the ingredients and chop the habanero or scotch bonnet peppers thinly being extremely careful not to touch your eyes (wear gloves if available). Combine all of the vegetables and spices in a bowl, transfer to a Mason jar, and cover with vinegar. Store in the fridge for at least 24 hours before serving.

For the marinade combine all of the griot ingredients except the tomato paste and Sazon Goya in a large saucepan or dutch oven. Cover with a lid and place in the fridge to marinate for 6-12 hours.

When the pork is done marinating place the pot on the stove over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 40-50 minutes testing for tenderness. While the meat is cooking preheat the oven to 375.

When the meat is tender remove pieces with a slotted spoon and spread out on an oiled baking sheet. Drizzle with additional olive oil and bake until the outside of the pork is crispy- about 20 minutes. Use a ladle to transfer about a third of the broth from the large pan to a smaller saucepan. Place over medium heat and add tomato paste and Sazon Goya. Let this reduce to a sauce until the meat and plantains are done cooking.

While the pork is in the oven heat a high-sided skillet with 1-2 inches of canola oil on medium-high heat. Prepare a bowl of hot water and salt. When the oil is shimmering work in batches and use tongs to add the sliced plantains. Fry each piece for about 2-4 minutes until golden. Remove with tongs and smash between two plates before soaking in salt water for a minute each. Remove from water and refry in the oil for 1-2 more minutes. Place finished plantains on a paper towel lined plate to drain the oil and sprinkle with salt.

Serve all the plantains, pikliz, and griot together on one plate. I guarantee you’ll be blown away.