Friday, January 22, 2010

Estofado de Pollo Con Hierbas Aromaticas (Chicken Stew with Aromatic Herbs?)

Lately in Southern California this week it's been nothing but cold and rain rain rain, something not so common down here. So in my house it's been nothing but hardy bean and meat stews, soaked with crusty warm bread and or hot rice as well as creamy vegetable soups we just consume as a hot drink. Mmmmm... and my mom's been making lots of hot chocolate for me when I come from school.

Anyways with this weather I felt like eating a hearty stew with chicken, potatoes, carrots, and meaty mushrooms in a thick soupy sauce of course to eat with my rice or bread.

I had/ still have tons of fresh herbs (a grip load of thyme I need to use up soon because it will go bad this week) and I decided to make this chicken stew throwing a bunch of fresh herbs I had. Let me tell you this chicken was so flavorful and aromatic, but yet mellow and pleasant.

I don't know what to call this dish honestly... it's not traditional or authentic anything, it's prepared like very typical Cuban and Spanish tomato based meat stews except I threw a bunch of fresh herbs that somehow married with the sweet smoked Spanish paprika really well, my boyfriend however felt that this harmony made it feel like it was missing something? (he's use to more bold tastes I guess, or that was just his personal opinion... I did feel it very mellow and not over powering so maybe that's his interpretation of missing something)

So back to not knowing what to call it, well it is a stew made with chicken and has tons of aromatic herbs so I guess it's okay to just label it "Estofado de Pollo Con Hierbas Aromaticas"/ Chicken Stew with Aromatic Herbs, not very creative I know if any of you think of another name let me know :)


-3 1/2- 4 lbs chicken
-1 large onion minced
-1 medium bell pepper minced
-1/2 head garlic, peeled, minced
-1 can 8 oz. tomato sauce
-1/2-1 cup red wine or white wine (your preference)
-2 large sprigs fresh rosemary
-4 small sprigs fresh thyme
-4 small sprigs fresh oregano
-12- 15 whole black peppercorns
-2-3 bay leaves
-1 teaspoonful sweet smoked Spanish paprika or cumin just something smokey (optional I just felt like adding it, I used smoked Spanish paprika)
-4 medium potatoes peeled left whole or cut in half
-1 lbs. carrots, peeled cut in half or left whole
-1 lbs. fresh or reconstituted mushrooms (I used shitake mushrooms I rehydrate)
-1 cup fresh or frozen peas (I use frozen and add it the last 5 minutes of cooking)
-salt to taste
-2 teaspoons chicken bouillon (optional)


(1) Cut chicken into segments, wash really well, pat-dry set aside. (in my house we usually wash the chicken by washing once with water, then drain, then we submerge in water in sink with fresh squeezed lime and squeezed lime halves, as well as salt and drain twice more then pat-dry and set aside, this gets rid of that "chicken taste" and any slimy residue most chicken has)
(2) Heat a large pan on high heat, when hot add olive oil, lower to medium high and immediately add chicken pieces one by one, sprinkle with salt and let brown on all sides.

(3) Set chicken aside, and now saute onions, bell peppers until tender about 5-7 minutes, then add garlic together with rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, black peppercorns and stir well until fragrant about 1-2 minutes., add wine and allow to bubble and reduce a bit, then add tomato sauce.

(4) Add chicken back, along with potatoes and carrots, add enough water to barely cover everything.
(5) Now bring to a boil on very high heat, remove any scum, add chicken bouillon powder or cube crumbled in, cover and cook on medium heat or medium low for 25 minutes, add peas and fresh mushrooms and cook an additional 5 minutes.
(5) Serve :)
(6) If using dried mushrooms add them together with the chicken, potatoes, and carrots. I soaked dried shitake mushrooms in water for 6 hours (well I just left it over night) then drained, washed, and cut ready to use in my recipe.

Please Note:
-I threw all the fresh herbs whole, you can tie it into a bouquet so you can remove later, or remove all the rosemary, thyme, and oregano leaves from the stems and chop them finely then add, and if whole black peppercorns bother you, you can throw ground I guess. Heck I think you can substitute all the fresh herbs with 1 teaspoon of the dried version of them and still get similar results.
-you can probably use chicken stock instead of water if you wanna avoid bouillon.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Estofado de Ternera Con Patatas de Nuria (Nuria's Beef and Potato Stew)

I was craving a delicious beef stew today, but wanted something different from the typical Cuban "Carne Con Papas" (Cuban beef and potato stew) I usually eat, and didn't feel like eating any of the stews with "Pimienton" in it (sweet smoked or hot smoked Spanish paprika) or sauces heavy on tomato....

and so I browsed around online and remembered way back in Nuria's blog called "Spanish Recipes" I saw a delicious veal and potato stew she makes with fresh herbs she labeled as "Meat Stew with Potatoes". I decided to make it today and it was a hit in my house.

If you love gravy you'll love this the stew is flavorful coated in a rich meaty brown gravy sauce with hardy potatoes with peas and carrots for color. Perfect for the rainy cold weather we faced in Southern California today.

I didn't use her exact recipe instruction by instruction, I just read it once and did everything kind of my way using her's as a guideline but it is almost the same.


-2 1/2 lbs. beef or veal stew meat I used beef shoulder clod steak
-salt and black pepper to taste
-flour to dust meat
-extra-virgin olive oil
-2 onions minced
-1 head of garlic, peeled and minced
-1 can 8 oz. tomato sauce (or 4 fresh tomatoes grated)
-1 cup white wine
-water enough to cover all meat
-3 bay leaves
-a small bunch fresh thyme sprigs
-a couple sprigs fresh oregano
-2 large or 4 small potatoes peeled and cut into large chunks
-2-3 carrots peeled and sliced into thin rounds
-1 cup frozen green peas or canned drained
-1 teaspoon monosodium glutamine/ msg (optional I use it sometimes)


(1) Cut meat into cubes, season liberally with salt and pepper. Then dust in flour.

(2) Heat a large deep pan with generous amounts of olive oil. When hot on medium high heat, add meat and brown on all sides then set aside.

(3) In same pan add 2 minced onions, cook down about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic minced and cook until fragrant. Then stir in tomato sauce or fresh tomato, if using fresh tomato you have to let the fresh tomato cook down.

(4) Finally stir in white wine, bring to a boil on high, then add meat and enough water to cover, bring to a boil, add msg, taste for salt add more if necessary, add oregano, thyme, and bay leaves tide with a string. Allow to simmer about 1 1/2 hours or until meat is tender.

(5) This part is optional in my opinion, but I like to do it, remove the tied bunch or oregano, thyme and bay leaves then puree the sauce until smooth (if you have a hand blender you don't have to remove meat, but if you don't then you have to add small batches into the blender then add back to pot I used a hand blender)

(6) Now add potatoes simmer 30 minutes until tender. Then add peas and carrots and let boil an additional 5-7 minutes. Turn off heat your done :)
(7) I like to eat it with white rice but bread is also good.
Please Note:
*I'm sure your favorite combination of fresh herbs would be wonderful in this dish. Also if you don't have fresh thyme or oregano I'm sure the dried would work in a pinch just remember when herbs are dried you use 1/2 of what you would use fresh even less. I'd use about 1 teaspoon dried thyme and 1 or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano.

*Next time I'm throwing the carrots in in very large pieces like just cut into 3 pieces a whole carrot and stew it with the potatoes jsut for a hardier appearance. Or you can also finely chop the carrots and sautee them together with the onion to get a sauce with a hint of sweetness which is what Nuria did but I had forgotten so I threw them in towards the end :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tamales Mexicanos de Puerco en Chile Colorado y Pollo en Chile Verde (Mexican Red Pork Tamales and Green Chicken Tamales)

Many cultures have their own types of Tamal (Mexicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Central and South Americans, etc.) depending the culture and even region it is prepared differently using different ingredients and cooking methods. In general a tamal is a starchy dough usually corn based, stuffed with some type of filling usually meat or seafood sometimes vegetables, wrapped and steamed

The tamales I grew up eating were the Mexican tamales as well as the Salvadorian tamales (that will be left for another post) today I'm focusing on the Mexican tamales, they are made from dried corn treated with nixtamal/ lime which is calcium hydroxide, this releases the nutrients in the corn, the corn is ground, and mixed with lard, salt, and I don't know what else. This dough we just call it "Masa"

Here in the United States I feel safe to say NO ONE makes the dough from scratch, especially here in Southern Mexifornia I mean California we have so many good Mexican stores that sell quality Mexican ingredients, and prepare fresh dough daily, they sell by the pounds. The best dough down here in my opinion is from "La Amapola" a Mexican deli when we visit my aunt in Huntington Park we always stock up on Masa. But when we aren't in teh area and run out of their dough, then Vallarta (a chain of Mexican stores down here) and "El Gallo Giro" (a Mexican bakery) sell good masa.

The other option is to buy "Masa Harina" sold under the brand "Maseca" it is made of pure all natural corn, it is dried ground to a powder corn treated with lime to release the nutrients, the directions are on the packet for making the tamal dough, but I believe it's inferior to the fresh dough from the stores but still delicious.

... I really should be getting paid for talking about these products and establishments haha.

Ingredients for Tamales dough and wrap:
-10 lbs. already prepared "Masa Para Tamales" (Tamale dough)bought from the Mexican store, fresh or buy "Masa Harina" and make dough according to packet instructions

-2 packets 8 oz. "Hojas de Tamal Encochadas" (dried corn husk leaves) (soaked in cold water for 30- 60 minutes)

Filling 1 Ingredients- Pork in Red Sauce:
-5 lbs. pork leg meat cut into small cubes
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 onion minced
-4 cloves garlic minced
-12 dried "Chile California" peppers ( right )
-10 dried "Chile Guajillo" peppers ( left )
-2 ripe tomatoes
-1 heaping teaspoon cumin
-1/4 heaping teaspoon cloves -1 tablespoon chicken bouillon

Directions for Filling 1- Pork in Red Sauce:
(1) Get pork, wash it, and cover half way with water season liberally with salt and pepper, bring to boil on high heat and leave slightly uncovered, add some very generous amounts of oil maybe 1/2 cup while the pork is boiling. leave alone.

(2) Meanwhile, remove stem and seeds from dried peppers, put in a pot with 3 tomatoes and boil until tender in water just enough water to barely cover. about 10 minutes, when tender put in a blender with enough liquid to make a sauce and chicken bouillon, strain sauce through a strainer, add ground cumin, ground cloves stir well.

(3) When all the water evaporates on the pork you were simmering, brown the pork slightly, set meat aside, brown onion then add garlic when fragrant, add red sauce you made, bring to a boil, add pork meat and simmer 15 minutes, taste for salt add more if necessary. Turn off heat, the filling is done.

(4) Be sure the sauce isn't too thin it needs to be thick and somewhat reduced set aside.

Filling 2 Ingredients- Chicken in Green Chile Sauce

-4 lbs boneless chicken meat
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 onion minced
-2 jalapeno or serrano peppers minced (any spicy green pepper)
-4 cloves garlic
-1 lbs. tomatillos
-water about 1 1/2 cups
-1 tablespoon chicken bouillon

Filling 2- Chicken in Green Sauce Directions:
(1) Brown chicken in oil with salt and pepper on very high heat

(2) Meanwhile blend tomatillos in a blender cut in half with water and chicken bouillon, make sure it's very well blended and liquefied
(3) When chicken is browned, add onion and green chili pepper, when onion is translucent or browned, add garlic when fragrant add the tomatillos you blended with water and bouillon. Add salt to taste if necessary.
(4) Bring to a boil and allow to cook 15 minutes. Turn off heat. Be sure the filling isn't to loose set aside.


Directions for wrapping Tamales and cooking them:
(1) Don't forget to soak the corn husks, when soaked for about 30- 60 minutes in cold water take them out as your using.
(2) Have everything arranged and ready (your fillings, your dough, the corn husks drained after soaking, and large dishes to place your already wrapped tamales)
(3) Get a corn husk, spread the masa on it, on the upper part like this
(4) Put about 2 pieces of filling with a little sauce
(5)Fold it so the two corners with masa stick, then tuck one side in

(6)Then fold the end upwards,
(7) Set aside
(8)Do the same with the green filling
(9) Here's when we are done wrapping all of them. Please note that when wrapping them some corn husk leaves will be smaller or rip if that's the case use two that over lap each other.
(10)Get a deep enough pot, and line is with corn husk like the pictures below

(11) In one pot put only one kind of tamales (green or red) my mother say's if you steam them all together then the flavors can intertwine.

(12) Tuck in leaves to form a dome on the sides,

(13) Place a corn husk on the center (please note this dome is formed so water from the pots lid does not fall onto the tamales, if thsi happens they drown and never harden, you will get a mushy mess.
(14) Do the same with the red ones in another pot
(15) Have water boiling in a seperate pot and put about 3 cups of boiling water in each pot, but ladle the water in through the sides of the dome, cover and cook on medium high heat, for about 1 1/2 hours.

(16) Take one out to test if the dough is raw or not fully cooked, when done they are ready to eat.
(17) Enjoy with some "Champurrado" a type of thick Mexican chocolate cinnamon drink:)

Please Note:
(1) My favorite are the one's with "Chile Colorado" if I were making them and not my mother I would only make the one's with pork in "Chile Colorado"

(2) Also there's a sweet pineapple type of masa, my mom buys the prepared pineapple dough but adds certain things that makes it amazing. She also makes another type as well with fire roasted poblano peppers and fresh cheese.

(3) You can make very large batches and freeze them raw then take them out to steam whenever.

ALSO SUPER IMPORTANT... so it's not too much work you can make the filling a day in advance doing everything the same day is a lot of work and super time consuming

(4) When reheating them the next day or after cold, if microwaving cover/ wrap in a wet cloth or towel or it will be dry. Another way to re-heat is to put in a pot with very little water and steam until hot again. And the best way or tastiest is called "Tamal Frito" (fried tamal) my mother heats lard in a pan and fries the tamal until crispy on all sides to re-heat :)