Friday, April 30, 2010

Costilla de Puerco en Chile Verde Con Nopales (Mexican Pork Rib and Cactus Green Stew)

So again here in California this time of year Nopales are extremely plentiful, and we have more than we can handle. So here is yet another Mexican dish that uses "Nopales" (cactus or in this case cactus pads)

This is the green version of the red pork stew I posted a couple days back "Costillas de Puerco en Chile Colorado Con Nopales" Again this green sauce is one of the other what I call "master sauces" in Mexican cooking for stewing all sorts of meats, green enchiladas, even a base to make some really spicy hot sauces.

This is a very healthy dish to cook, it has lots of healthy greens, such as the cactus pads, green chili peppers and tomatillos, married with a little pork. You can eat this in a very simple humble fashion just a heaping bowl of this stew with some corn tortillas. If you wanna go a little further enjoy with some boiled or refried beans and if you wanna go all out make some Mexican red rice to go with it. The choice is yours.

Main Ingredients:
-4 lbs pork spare ribs cut into pieces
-salt & pepper to taste
-water (enough to barely cover)

Ingredients to prepare cactus
-15-20 cactus pads/ nopales, cleaned, and cut into medium strips/ julienned
-1/4 onion
-2 cloves garlic
-water (enough to submerge cactus pads)

Ingredients for the sauce:
-1 lbs. tomatillos or "tomatillo milpero" peeled (a tiny berry like variety of tomatillos)
-1/2 of a large onion
-3 cloves garlic
-4-6 or more Jalapeno or Serrano chilies (the spicier you want it the more you add)
-1 tablespoon chicken bouillon/ powder (optional)
-water as needed to make sauce

Ingredients to finish the dish:
-1 big bunch of cilantro, washed well, pat-dry and chopped coarsely


(1) Add pork ribs to a large pot, cover with water just enough to barely cover it, not submerged. Season liberally with salt and pepper and bring to a boil on high heat lower to medium high, leave it alone until all the water evaporates and it renders some fat then let it brown stirring occasionally in it's own fat.

(2) While pork is boiling, heat two pots with water, have your cleaned cut cactus and add it to a pot of boiling water with 2 garlic cloves, 1/4 onion and let boil uncovered 10 minutes, when done drain them and set aside, discard onion and garlic.

(3) However meanwhile, while waiting for cactus to be cooked prepare your sauce, bring water to a boil in small pot, add peeled washed tomatillos and green chilies, let boil for about 5-10 minutes until they change color.
(4) When tomatillos change color, add them carefully along with chilies into a blender, along with 1/2 raw onion, and 3 garlic cloves and chicken bouillon, blend in blender into a sauce, using the water you boiled the chilies in tomatillos in to help blend it all well, if you run out of that cooking liquid use regular water. You may or may not need to do this in batches
(5) By now your meat should have had all the water evaporate and it should be browned, if not just wait, but when all water is gone, let the pot with the ribs be scorching hot, and add the blended green sauce to the pot it will sizzle and bubble. Cover and lower heat to medium low, you may add more water depending on how thick or soupy you want your final dish, I like to have enough liquid to barely cover all the ingredients. Taste it for salt and add more if necessary, it's all to your taste. Allow pork to simmer about 20 minutes in sauce.
(6) When pork has simmered 20 minutes or is very tender add cooked drained cactus and allow to cook an additional 3-5 minutes.
(7) Turn off heat and stir in cilantro.
*This is actually a very simple dish, it really isn't hard at all, just a lot of multi-tasking, but comes together wonderfully and is almost a one pot meal, all you essentially need is some store bought fresh warm corn tortillas :)

*There are about 4 ways to make the green sauce, method one is grill and slightly blacken the tomatillos, chili peppers, 1/2 onion, and garlic cloves then proceed to blend everything and follow directions. The other method is blend everything raw since it goes into the sauce method two boil tomatillos and chilies then blend and proceed with making sauce method three blend everything raw together method four use any of the previous methods, except do not blend the onion or garlic, and instead saute minced onion and garlic with meat, then add the blended sauce prepared in any method. Depending on what method you use the taste is slightly different

*This dish can be cooked without the cactus, you can simply do the pork in the green sauce

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Costillas de Puerco en Chile Colorado Con Nopales (Mexican Pork Rib and Cactus Red Stew)

I usually lately don't post on a daily basis, but this week I may be posting daily depends, because we have so much cactus and down here in California it is very very plentiful right now, a good friend keeps giving us bags of cactus pads from her plant.

So yesterday I grilled some you can check the post "Nopales Asados", and this morning I made a simple "Nopales Con Huevos" (Cactus and Egg) by cutting the leftover grilled nopales, and heating them and oil and fried them with some minced onion and added beaten eggs with salt and pepper to make a scramble I ate with tortillas.

Today is day 2 of my Nopales lol. and I made a Mexican Pork and Cactus stew in a sauce we call "salsa de chile colorado" (red chile sauce?) this is a type of master sauce used in Mexican cookery for all sorts of dishes (enchiladas, stewing other meats, making certain soups, etc.) Today I used it to stew some pork ribs with cactus. It is a delicious marriage near and dear to me. Do not be intimidated by the long list of ingredients and cooking procedures this meal is almost a one pot meal with some corn tortillas and has your meat and veggies. I was able to make this delicious stew in less than an hour.

Main Ingredients:
-2 1/2 lbs. pork spare ribs
-salt and pepper to taste -water (enough to barely cover pork)

Ingredients for the sauce:
-8 dried Chile Californias (if you want it not spicy or for spicy use 8 dried "Chile Guajillos" or a blend of both) sliced open and de-seeded and veined
-2 dried "Chiles Pasillas"sliced open and de-seeded and veined
-2 ripe roma tomatoes cut small slits on skin downwards
-water (enough to cover dried chiles)
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1 teaspoon ground black pepper
-1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
-1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder (optional)
-1/2 onion peeled
-2 cloves garlic peeled

Ingredients to prep. cactus:
-14 cleaned cactus pads julienned (about 2 lbs?) -water (enough to boil cactus) -1/4 onion
-2 cloves garlic

Main Ingredients Directions:
(1) Clean and wash your pork, and cut it into pieces. Now throw in a pot, season liberally with salt and pepper, add enough water to BARELY cover, and bring to a boil on high uncovered, leave it like that until all water reduces, the pork will render some fat, and start browning, lower heat to medium high. Stir occasionally.
Making the Sauce Directions:
(2) Meanwhile while pork is boiling uncovered heat 1 medium pot with some water, and 1 large one half-way with water to a boil, leave the large one alone you will use it to prep. your cactus.

(3) When small medium pot boils, add de-seeded, and viened dried chiles and 2 tomatoes, bring to a boil, then allow to rest for 10 minutes.
(4) After 10 minutes, blend in a blender with the water you soaked it in along with onion, garlic, cumin, black pepper, cloves, chicken bouillon.

(5) Strain the sauce directly into the pot where the pork ribs were boiling which by now the water should be gone and they should be browned, strain it, pushing with a spoon to get as much as you can through the strainer, add more water through the strainer to get more out of it. Be sure the pork is slightly covered by the sauce, allow to boil on medium heat and add salt to taste.

Prepping the cactus pads directions:
(6) By now you should have a medium large pot boiling with 1/4 onion and 2 garlic cloves.

(7) Now have you cactus pads cleaned with spines removed, julien them into strips. (I simply pile all of them and julienne them then cut those julienne s in half to have medium sized strips)

(8) Add the cactus and boil uncovered for 10 minutes, drain them, discard onion and garlic. set aside. DO NOT rinse them, just drain them.
Directions for putting the dish together
(9) Add the prepped drained cactus to the pot of pork boiling in the sauce, and allow to boil together an additional 5 minutes.
(10) Enjoy with corn tortillas and some refried beans if you'd like.
I know it seems like a lot but you can multi-task and get everything done in under an hour and you'll have this special tasty dish :) You can buy the cactus pads already peeled, cleaned, and cut. You can just boil them, but like I said the one's I got were from a friends plant.

I wasn't able to take lots of detailed pictures since I was making this on my own.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Nopales Asados (Grilled Cactus)

In Mexican cooking Cactus pads are a commonly consumed vegetable, cactus pads once cleaned can be used in a variety of dishes. In meat stews or stewed with Fava beans, salads, grilled, sauteed with meat, by itself, with eggs, pickled, etc. it is a very versatile vegetable in the Mexican kitchen.

I wanna share with you all a very simple, straight forward way we enjoy nopales at my house. Which is simply grilled, and we serve it with any meat dish preferably grilled meats, but any Mexican stewed meat or fried meat dish goes well, paired with corn tortillas and if you'd like refried or boiled pinto beans.


-cactus pads (cleaned, thorns/ spines removed)
-salt and pepper to taste (or your favorite meat seasoning)
-oil to coat cactus pads


(1) If you bought cactus pads with the thorns uncleaned or picked them yourself, simply, trim off the edges like so
then put the knife on an angle and scrape forward several times both sides,
then then scrape the towards the ends,
rinse well, and remove any stubborn thorns or brown spots with your knife, wash and pat dry.
(2) Rub oil on cactus pads, season liberally with salt and pepper or your favorite meat seasoning.
(3) Then put on a very hot griddle or nonstick pan or grill on high heat and cook 4-5 minutes on each side.

(4) Remove and set aside on a plate, pile them up til your done.

*My mother likes using a meat seasoning in her Mexican cooking called "Chef Merito" meat seasoning which is a very FLAVORFUL mexican spice blend of salt, sugar, citric acid, black pepper, cumin, paprika, star anise, msg, onion powder, and oregano. She tells me it's the closest thing she has found in the USA to the meat seasonings she grew up with in Mexico. Mmmm... a steak marinaded with that spice blend, with a splash of orange juice some fresh sliced onion and minced cilantro is so delicious when cooked in a hot pan or grill (trust me that's how Vallarta seasons their meats I know it ;)

If interested in other recipes that use Nopales check out my post for:
"Ensalada de Nopales" (Cactus Salad)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Potaje de Garbanzo's Con Espinaca (Chickpea and Spinach Stew)

This is a very simple, healthy, Spanish stew, I learned to make it not from my grandmother (Tata) but from Nuria and her wonderful blog "Spanish Recipes", all the way from Barcelona, Spain.

This stew is delicious, garbanzo beans are boiled and simmered with ham bones and a whole onion for a good deal of time creating a flavorful stock from the bones, and the onion gave the stock a slight sweet taste. To make it even better a flavorful sofrito of cooked down onions, garlic, and tomato with bacon is incorporated into the stew. All this is married with Spinach in such a wonderful way.

However, I didn't follow her recipe exactly step by step but it's almost the same way, for one I used a meaty pork bone I had leftover from a large Cuban roast leg of pork I made way back, and I added 1 heaping teaspoonful of sweet smoked Spanish paprika, which I love. Besides that it's almost the same recipe and of course we all have our ways of doing things so the procedures are slightly different :)

Eating hardy Spanish stews is nothing new to me, growing up my grandmother would always make flavorful hardy bean stews, but we never had a stew with garbanzo's and green leafy spinach, the only stew we ate with greens was "Caldo Gallego" (a white bean and turnip green or Swiss chard stew typical of Galicia, Spain) but this combination of Spinach and Garbanzo's was something new to me that I was excited to try.

My family loved it, my grandmother (Tata) really appreciated it, the recipe was familiar and comforting to me yet new at the same time, and I think this stew will be one of those bean stews that will become part of my families recipes and it's here to stay :)

Ingredients for boiling chickpeas:
-1 lbs. dried chickpeas (soaked over night and drained)
-water (enough to cover chickpeas 2 inches)
-1 large ham bone or pork bone
-1 medium onion
-salt to taste

Ingredients for the rest of the dish:

-1/2 lbs. bacon cut into cubes or 1 inch pieces
-olive oil (enough to evenly coat the bottom of a pan)
-1 onion minced
-6 cloves garlic minced
-1/2 can 4 oz. tomato sauce or 3 small ripe tomatoes pureed or 1 large ripe tomato pureed
-1 teaspoonful sweet smoked Spanish paprika (optional)
-2 bunches of spinach (coarsely chopped, washed well, and drained)

(1) Soak garbanzos over night in cold water, then drain then next day and drain. Another method you can use is bring to a boil with water 3 minutes, then soak for 2-4 hours, drain and they are ready to use.

(2) Now that garbanzos are ready add enough water to submerge them 2-3 inches, the ham or pork bone, and 1 whole onion, and if desired a little salt. Bring to a boil on high heat, then cover and lower heat to medium low to low. It can take anywhere from 1 1/2 hours to 3 hours it all depends on how old your garbanzos are.

(3) Meanwhile, heat olive oil on medium high heat, add cut bacon and cook until it renders fat,
then minced onion 5-7 minutes, saute until translucent, then add minced garlic cook until fragrant about 2-3 minutes,
add the teaspoonful of sweet smoked Spanish paprika if using, stir 30 seconds
and add tomato sauce. Let the tomato sauce cook down a bit into a oily paste about 5 minutes. Turn off heat. Set aside.
(4) When beans are tender, remove the ham bone, remove any meat from the bone if any
and add it back to the stew, and discard the onion (if you like the onion, and don't want to throw it out, you can julienne it into thick strips and throw it back in the stew). Stir in the flavorful "sofrito" (sauteed onion, garlic, tomato you cooked down with bacon)
stir it in
(5) Add cleaned chopped spinach, and let it cook an additional 5 minutes.
(6) Serve with some bread or rice or alone.
-Do not be tempted to use canned garbanzo beans, it will NOT I repeat will NOT be the same for this dish, this is a very simple dish, using little ingredients and really no spices I just felt like adding sweet smoked Spanish paprika because I love the flavor, so it's important you make a flavorful base by allowing uncooked garbanzos to boil a long time with pork bones making a very flavorful base. If you must used canned I recommend letting the bones boil at least 2-3 hours and prepare the dish as recipe instructs except add the garbanzos towards the end. BUT honestly if your going to take the time to boil the pork bones 2-3 hours then you should just boil it together with the garbanzo's :)

For those looking for a quick fix look elsewhere you can check out my quick "Guiso de Garbanzo Con Chorizo" (Chickpea, Sausage, and Pork Pot) or Nuria's short cut recipe for "Garbanzos Con Espinaca" in which she sautee's chickpeas with blood sausage, pine nuts, and spinach :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Guiso de Garbanzos Con Chorizo (Cuban Chickpea, Sausage and Pork Pot)

This is a simple, quick, Cuban dish. Chickpeas are married with smoked Spanish chorizo and pork through a fragrant tomato based Cuban creole sauce. If you use canned chickpeas you can make this stand alone dish in less than 30 minutes. You can prepare some rice, and while the rice is cooking make this dish, by the time your done you'll have steaming hot rice, and a flavorful filling stew to serve over it.

You can actually make this from scratch using dried chickpeas (about 1 lbs. which is 2 cups raw) by soaking the chickpeas over night, then draining and boiling them in water til tender, when tender drain well, and use them in this recipe :) however this will take longer to do and makes things more tedious.


-1/4 cup lard or olive oil
-1/2 lbs. smoked pork ham or bacon/ salted pork or pork meat cut into 1/2 inch pieces
-2 small Spanish Chorizo's cut into thin rounds
-1 onion chopped
-1 green or red bell pepper chopped
-4-6 cloves garlic minced
-2 cans 16 ounces Chickpeas/ Garbanzos drained
-1 can 8 oz. tomato sauce
-salt to taste
-1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (optional my grandmother doesn't use it I do however)
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1 cup water


(1) Heat lard or olive oil in a pan on medium high heat, when hot add the smoked ham or bacon or fresh pork meat (whatever you choose), when slightly browned add onion, bell pepper, and garlic saute 5-7 minutes until tender and onion is translucent

(2) Stir in sliced spanish chorizo, when the oil turns slightly reddish and so do the onions, add drained chickpeas, cumin, black pepper and stir 30 minutes, add tomato sauce and water bring to rolling a boil on high heat to heat through.

(3) Turn off heat and serve over white rice. It can stand alone with rice, or you can serve it with a salad (something simple like cucumber, tomato, onion, lettuce tossed with lime or lemon even vinegar, a little olive oil and salt)
(1) My Tata (grandmother) likes making this with bacon or cubed salted pork that she renders in olive oil then starts the recipe. I didn't have any and had two fresh pork shoulder steaks that I cubed, which is perfectly fine.

(2) I know Spanish chorizo isn't available everywhere here in the USA, so if you must substitute it with a smoked sausage like Keilbasa.

(3) If you want to stretch out the dish to feed more people, you can form the sauce BUT don't add the chickpeas yet and instead simmer about 2 potatoes cut in chunks in the sauce, then add the chickpeas towards the end. It will take longer, but is a way to stretch out the dish to feed more people ha ha.

I'm submitting this recipe to Ruchikacooks who is hosting this month's "My Legume Love Affair" which is a Susan's brainchild Event. If you want to participate too, just take a look at Ruchika's blog or go to Susan's MLLA past, present and future to get all details.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sonia's Potaje de Frijoles Colorados (Sonia's Red Bean Stew)

This is another hardy, nutritious, and delicious Cuban bean stew. Red beans are married with meat, chorizo, orange fleshed squash, potatoes, kicked up with a cuban sofrito, and some spices. Comfort food served over rice or with bread :)

Something I probably haven't admitted to my readers is that I generally don't like red beans when prepared AS a STEW or SOUP.. I eat them fine but in my opinion there's this very subtle earthy mustiness I dislike about them... the only times I truly enjoy them is in "Congri Oriental" (red beans and rice) and "Congri Con Coco" (coconut red beans and rice) as well as in the form of the central American "Frijoles Rojos Volteados" (pureed, and refried red beans which is a type of savory thick red bean paste, something i have yet to post and it delicious). I do however prepare red bean stews in my house occasionally, but am never satisfied, and my parents and family aren't much fans (except for my grandmother) I generally make them out of "tradition" as in to "not lose the dish" and for variety.

HOWEVER and it's a big HOWEVER Sonia R. Martinez has changed my mind with her version of this traditional Cuban red bean stew, I consider Sonia R. Martinez a friend, and a role model, she is a cuban woman originally from Cienfuegos, Cuba now residing in Hawaii, she is Cookbook author and freelance food writer, has a food & garden blog at and has other writings at as well as being the contributing writer to and monthly columnist for

What makes Sonia's red bean stew so special? Well for one I fell in love with it, because it doesn't have that earthy mustiness I'm used to in red bean stews, I think her secret to cleansing the beans of this taste is by kissing the beans with a touch of dry sherry and vinegar, it gives the beans a deep-complex taste, a sharpness that I love, yet doesn't over power the flavors of everything else. The other secret may be the use of fresh diced tomatoes. Either way they are delicious, I highly suggest if you are looking for a red bean stew recipe GIVE THIS ONE A TRY, trust me it will be a hit at your house :)


-1 lbs (2 cups) small dried red beans
-water (enough to submerge beans about 2 inches deep)
-1 bay leaf
-1 1/2 lbs. smoked ham, beef, or pork stew meat cut into 1 inch pieces
-2 small or 1/2 a large spanish chorizo sliced
-1/4- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
-1 large onion minced
-1 green bell pepper minced
-6 cloves of garlic minced
-2 medium or small tomatoes diced (I'm sure canned tomatoes can work)
-1 tablespoon red wine, balsamic, or white vinegar (your choice I used balsamic)
-1/2 cup dry sherry or white wine
-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
-2-3 medium potatoes cut into 1-2 inch chunks
-1 lbs. calabaza (I used 1 lb. banana squash, butternut, hubbard, kabucha, and carribean squash will work fine) cut into 1-2 inch cubes
-salt to taste
(1) Soak beans over night, first wash beans, cover about 1-2 inches deep in water, bring to a boil 20 minutes, turn off heat and allow to soak overnight.

(2) Next day bring to a boil, add bay leave meat or chunks of smoked ham, spanish chorizo, and bay leaf. Cover and reduce heat to medium low for about 1 1/2- 2 hours or until beans are tender.

(3) While beans are cooking prepare the sofrito, sautee onions and bell pepper in olive oil on medium high until onions are translucent and fragrant, about 5-7 minutes, add garlic sautee another 3 minutes until fragrant, add diced tomato sautee another minute, add oregano and cumin stir 30 seconds, and finally stir in 1 tablespoon vinegar then add the dry sherry or white wine. Allow everything to cook on medium high heat for 10 minutes until wine and vinegar reduce significantly. Turn off heat set a side.
(4) When beans are tender add the sofrito (meaning the sautee you just made) to the tender meat and beans, stir well, add chunks or calabaza and potato. Bring to a rolling boil on high heat, then lower heat to medium low and cover simmer for about 20- 30 minutes until calabaza and potato are tender.

(5) Enjoy! Serve over rice or in a large bowl with bread. If you wish a nice salad would go well with this.
Here's the stew sitting over a delicious mountain of fluffy white rice :)
Sonia let me know that for her version of this traditional Cuban red bean stew, if Spanish Chorizo isn't available Keilbasa sausage may be used. Also in my opinion if Spanish Chorizo can't be found where you live I have had success with dishes using any variety of Lousiana type suasages, like Louisiana hot links.

If your interested in this recipe you may be interested in:

(1) Sopa de Frijoles Colorados (red bean soup) I make this soup with large red kidney beans, I prepare that one more simple, as in it is not a stand alone meal, I serve it over rice with other meat dishes and make it when I don't want one stand alone hardy red bean stew, but still want to cook red beans :)

(2) Tata's Potaje de Frijoles Colorados this one is my grandmother's version, but I prefer Sonia's :)

I almost forgot to add that when these hot bean stews are served over rice (specifically more often than not red or black bean soups and stews) we like to sometimes eat it with small slices of regular banana or those miniature bananas. Like we will but the stew over fluffy white rice and place small slices of banana on top and spoon a little of the thick red bean or black bean broth over it and eat it together YUMMY! Those are the very home-style comforting things you won't see outside Cuban homes and will not find in any restaurant :)