Monday, July 13, 2009

Potaje de Frijoles Blancos (White Bean Stew)

"Potaje de Frijoles Blancos" or "Potaje de Judias" or "Potaje de Alubias Blancas" whatever you want to call it hsimply means "white bean stew."

There are many variations of spanish/ cuban white bean stews depending your families tastes, where you come from, etc. when we simply say "Potaje de Frijoles Blancos" in my house we think of this stew I am posting here.

It's a delicious simple white bean stew made with either large white beans or small white beans (your preference), hardy with chunks of calabaza, potatoes, chorizo, beef, and a strong sofrito without tomato some salt and cumin nothing more nothing less unless you want to add soem bijol or saffron to make it a strongey yellow (which is occasionally done in my house to bean stews that are white without the addition of tomato). We make other white bean stews in my house using it that go by different names but those will be for another post on of them I have posted though which is my Tata's version of "Caldo Gallego" (Galician Stew).

The first time I had this I remember it being a hot summer in L.A. (back when I lived in Midwilsher area of West L.A. now I'm in the SF Valley) I was about 5 years old maybe younger my Tata made this and for some odd reason I was being a spoiled brat. I refused to eat the Potaje "Yo no queiro FRIJOLES BLANCOS tan raro, dame de comer otra cosa" (translates to "I don't want white beans, so weird, give me something else") because the beans where white, and I haven't ate white beans before. Of course I was being a hot headed spoiled brat screaming in Spanish, my Tata looked at me and said "Anda estan buenos chico dejate de malcriadeses" (stop being a spoiled brat and eat) and I simply said, "No!" my Tata being at times the hot headed woman she is told me, "Coño chico, no te voy dar na'ma caprichudo, pasa hambre bobo quando ya no aguantes te lo' va tragar todo, caray que ni lo quieres probar" (something along those lines which means, "Fuck boy I'm not feeding ou anything, go hungry dumb ass and then when you starving your gonna chomp that down, shit you don't even want to taste it"... I know it sounds harsh but Cuban spanish can be harsh and no hard feelings among family when talking. It doesn't translate so nicely directly to english but it is much less harsh than what it sounds.

Later that day I was super hungry and said, "Bueno esta bien ya traimelo tengo hambre" (meaning "Fine bring it I'm hungry") and here comes to the table in a bowl a small mountain of delicious steaming hot fluffy white rice topped with the Potaje, I took my first spoon and wow I LOVED it and finished my bowl clean then my grandma waid, "Ya ves chico estaba bueno" (translates to "See boy it's good")

I don't remember ever eating that Potaje since that day many many years ago, and last week I decided to make some on the weekend using my Tata's recipe and it stirs up memories of my childhood when I lived back in West L.A. always close to my Tata...

-1 lbs. white beans (large or small I only had small and remember them being small)
-1 1/2 lbs. beef stew meat cut into 1 inch cubes
-3 small spanish chorizo's or 1/2 a large one casing removed cut into rounds
-1 green bell pepper minced
-1 onion minced
-1/2 head garlic mashed to a paste (garlic press or mortar and pestle)
-1 lbs. Calabaza cut into chunks (use Banana, Kabucha, Butternut, Hubbard squash, etc.)
-2-3 medium potatoes peeled cut into chunks
-salt to taste
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-extra-virgin olive oil or lard as needed

(1) Bring beans to a boil in enough water to cover them about 2-4 inches (eyeball it) when it comes to a rolling boil add beef stew meat and season with salt (normally we do not salt beans until fully cooked but if you don't salt it when there's raw meat then the meat will be bland no matter how salty the stew is). Cover and let boil until beans are tender at medium low heat (it only took me 1 hour using the small white beans)

(2)When beans and beef are tender and cooked heat olive oil or lard in a large pan and start the sofrito by sauteeing some Spanish chorizo at medium high, when the oil turns redish add onions and bell pepper and cook for about 5 minutes or more until translucent then add garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes until fragrant, turn off heat your sofrito is done. Throw the sofrito into the pot of beans and beef, throw in the Calabaza and potatoes along with cumin and more salt if necessary (taste the liquid) bring back to a boil and cook together until Calabaza and potatoes are tender, be sure to boil uncovered after adding the sofrito and all so the stew can reduce and thicken if necessary.

(4)Serve with white rice or good bread if you wish also a salad but not necessary.

Please Note:
*Potajes for us is thick bean stews like these, they are not suppose to be soupy and thin, a potaje is rich, somewhat thick but not so thick it's a paste just a rich body with a consistency where it's thick enough to not sink right through the rice, and to envelope a nice piece of bread in a thick rich coating. Just add enough water using some judgement, you can thicken it up by mashing some of the beans in teh pot with a wooden spoon and cooking the potatoes and calabaza longer just be careful not to cook them so much they disappear into the stew.

Kreative Blog Award

I recieved this award from Rox's from "Yuca Diaries" she's a fellow Cubanita living in Texas whom loves to cook all sorts of food (I've seen lots of Italian and just inspired recipe with a sprinkle of Cuban here and there plus more), and also Marilyn from "My Cuban Traumas" (wonderful Cuban cooking blog a must see for anyone interested in Cuban cooking). Thank you both for this award :) I appreciate it.

Here are the rules:
1.Thank the person who has given you the award-goes without saying
2.Copy the logo and place it on your blog
3.Link to the person who has nominated you for the award
4.Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting
5.Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers
6.Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate
7.Leave a comment on which of the blogs to let them know they have been nominated

7 Kreative foodie Bloggers I love:
1. Masa from Masa Assasin (don't know his name?) he is Cuban Mexican American living in So Cal. His blog features restaurant and eatery reviews, delicious authentic Mexican recipes, a few Cuban recipes (looking forward to more in the future) he is new to the foodie blogosphere so go check out his blog and show him some love :)

2. Karen Brown Letarte from Domestic Muse, blogs about all sorts of food, no boundaries, lots of American food, some fusion, some Cuban, tries everything. Love her retro feel, dialogue, personality and fun give aways.

3. Pilar from "Entre Alacenas y Fogones", Spaniard cooking, some Cuban here and there. Her parents are Cuban of Spanish descent she is Spaniard born this leads to good eats :)

4. Nuria from Spanish Recipes, the name of the blog say's it all, her cooking is Catalan and delicious.

5. Pilar Lechuza from "La Cocina de Lechuza" she doesn't do awards but this is for her anyways, her blog features Spanish cooking from Galicia, Spain, I love her cooking for it's simplicity and freshness she is also in case some didn't know the Queen of Empanadas :D I learned lots from her.

6. UT Man from Overseas Pinoy never really talked to him, never responds to comments, lives somewhere in Singapore, Pinoy abroad? but regardless I can't deny that I love his blog. Very authentic Filipino cooking and I enjoy reading his blog very much. Reminds me of my friend Shantalls mother's cooking.

7. Maangchi from "Cooking Korean Food with Maangchi" I love this lady, her personality, charm, love of food and all. Her blog is very proffesional, forums for her readers, podcasts, even cooking books, she does videos with written recipes below them, very helpful for those looking to recreate delicious Korean food at home, and loves to respond and answer questions from her readers.

7 things about me you may or may not know:
1. I love to cook, I got more into cooking when I lost weight and my Tata (grandmother) moved away it became a way to feel close to her everyday (aside from calling her and visiting her)

2. I did lose 100 lbs. (used to weigh 250 now am about 155), the secret, exercise (lots of cardio), light weights, staying active, eating healthy and balanced mostly low glycemic, the bulk of my diet mostly fruit and vegetables as well as meat, light on the carbs, and everthing in moderation (yes I do indulge in dessert) just plenty of self control.

3. I'm gay, have a boyfriend (Travis I mentioned him on my Basil Seed Drink post), and madly in love (sorry ladies). I was closeted many years, suffered from depression and tormented myself mentally (morals, values, etc. stuff I was brought up with especially religion, etc.) but over time I learned to accept myself and promised to live my life and be happier starting this year and I haven't felt better since though at times my worst enemy comes back which is myself.

4. I am currently a Business major but switching over to Family and Consumer Sciences- Nutrition, Dietitics, and Food Science with a minor in Business Administration Management at California State University Northridge,

5. Unfortunately I live in a small apartment that can get hella hot, fortunately I love living in Southern California and have my own room and a small balcony where I planted some Cachucha Peppers (4 pots), recieved a wonderful Lotus plant as a gift from Travis this weekend.

6. I enjoy the outdoors and nature (camping, hiking, etc.)

7. It sucks that I am a terrible dancer lol. but open to learning more and doing whatever (how embarassing I know having Cuban and Mexican in me I'm suppose to be a godly awesome dancer)