Premieres September 17 on PBS. Check your local listings.
The heat is high and watermelons are ripe for the picking. After being away from the restaurant all summer, Vivian returns to a staff of unfamiliar faces and works to build camaraderie with the newbies while accepting inevitable changes. As her cookbook capers continue, Vivian employs an avid home cook to put recipes from her forthcoming book to the test.
Featured Ingredient: Watermelon
Vivian’s Featured Recipe
Country-Style Pork Ribs in Red Curry–Braised Watermelon
I don’t normally recommend cooking watermelon, but this is special. Serve it over something like rice to soak up all the intoxicating juice. -- Vivian Howard
This recipe is featured in the My Watermelon Baby episode of Season 4 of A Chef's Life.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 4 8-ounce pork shoulder or blade steaks
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup honey
- 3 tablespoons red curry paste
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 5 cups watermelon, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes, seeds removed
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Heat the vegetable oil in a 12-inch brazier, cast-iron skillet, or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Season the ribs with salt and pepper on both sides and put them in a single snug layer in the bottom of the pan to brown. Maintaining medium-high heat, brown the steaks on all four sides, and I mean that. The more caramelization your steaks take on, the more flavor the end braise will have.
- While the pork is browning, whisk together the vinegar, honey, red curry paste, and fish sauce. Once the pork looks like something you’d be happy with, turn off the heat and drain away the excess fat. Scatter the watermelon over the top and pour the vinegar mixture over that. Either with foil or a lid that fits snugly, cover and slide the ribs onto the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the lid and bake an additional 30 minutes.
- After 2 hours in the oven, the pork will be tender and the watermelon will look like shriveled tomatoes. There will be a good amount of juicy aromatic liquid pooled around it all. It should be more broth than sauce.
- To serve, spoon the watermelon chunks and some of the red curry broth on top of the pork steaks and know that if you don’t serve this on top of something with the ability to soak up red curry watermelon broth, you’ve totally missed the point.
Yield: 4 servings