Sunday, September 26, 2010

Potaje de Frijoles Colorados Que Levanta Muertos (Red Bean Stew that Raises the Dead)

Seriously ever since my Tata (grandma) moved back into the house she sometimes get's back into her cooking mode. Lately for myself having to work a job, school, exercise, social life/ partying, friends and everything though I still cook it is hard to do so many times, and I end up being very exhausted, but luckily I have a wonderful mom who cooks, and a grandma that has some killer stuff up her sleeve.

Anyways Tata saw I was really weak and drained from everything, and nothing picks you up or makes you stronger than a strong Potaje so the nights before having to go to school or work my grandmother took out an array of hardy ingredients a large ham bone, some stewing beef, and smokey spanish chorizo, along with some Potatoes, orange fleshed squash, etc. (I was like this is another Potaje) she told me "Voy acer un Potaje fuerte pa'que te alimentes bien, y te sientas mas fuerte, y pa'que yo me mantenga bien." (translates to "Im making a bean stew so you can get nourished and feel strong, and so I can maintain myself well too")

Luckily we almost always eat these types of stews. They are healthy, nutritious and filling, all the minerals released from the bones, protein from the meat, heart healthy fiber from the beans, vitamins and antioxidants from the peppers, orange fleshed squash, potatoes, lots of olive oil, spices it's real good for you a medley of everything you need in one. Yes it has animal products but honestly for a stew this large you end up eating a few pieces of meat and sausage with tons of beans, pumpkin, potatoes, etc. it's pretty well balanced. When I asked a bunch of 77- 90 something year old Cubans what they thought kept them strong and old they were like "eat your Potaje's they keep you strong" I'll take their word and my common sense for this one :)

So yup yup I didn't cook it or was around for the whole cooking process but I caught the picture of the ingredients when she took out the stuff a night before
Here was the soaking of the beans the night before as well
Again I wasn't around for the whole process HOWEVER I have the recipe for those interested and was able to enjoy it when I got home :)

-2 cups red beans (washed several times, then soaked over night submerged in 3 inches of water do not discard soaking water or you won't get a nice strong red color)
-1 large ham bone cracked or cut in half
-2 lbs. beef stew meat
-2 large spanish chorizos
-8 "aji cachucha" peppers
-about 1/4- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1 onion chopped
-6 cloves of garlic pressed through a garlic press or mortar
-1 cup tomato sauce (she prefers "Ragu" from a bottle but had canned only)
-1 teaspoonful of cumin
-salt to taste
-1-2 lbs. butternut, carribean or banana squash cut into large chunks
-3 large potatoes peeled and cut in large chunks

(1) Bring soaked beans to a boil, add ham bone and beef stew meat along with the "aji cachucha" peppers. Simmer for about 2 hours or until beans and meat are tender.

(2) Meanwhile heat olive oil, sautee onions until translucent, then add garlic stir and cook until fragrant, add tomato sauce stir well, when it bubbles remove from heat, set it aside.

(3) Add the contents you sauteed to the beans when they are tender, along with cumin, salt to taste (atleast 2-3 teaspoons you may need more taste it as you add if you aren't experienced in cooking or salting food), when it comes to a boil, add Spanish Chorizo whole, and squash with potatoes.

(4) Simmer an additional 30 minutes until potatoes and squash are tender. Turn it off

(5) Remove sausage cut into large chunks and throw it back in the pot stir and your done.

(6) Tastes better the next day :) serve in a large bowl with rice or bread and if you wish a salad.

Here is the piping hot bowl I had when I got home at night :)
served over rice and then I mixed it all up

You can substitute the "Aji Cachucha" peppers from 1/2 of a large green bell pepper left whole then discarded at the end of cooking. An "aji cachucha" pepper is like a habanero pepper but with no hint of burning or spiciness just the pure taste.

I also have other versions/ variations of this red bean stew for this recipe, all also delicious, my grandmother has a preference for using beef over pork in Cuban style bean stews and so do many of her friends because they say it's more "nutritious" here's some other variations I've posted if interested :)

We honestly don't prepare red bean stews exactly the same every time because we like variety or it depends on what looks good at the store or is in our house at the time.

Sonia's Potaje de Frijoles Colorados (Sonias Red Bean Stew) just pork or ham or beef with sausage what makes this one special is the dry white wine, and vinegar
Sopa de Frijoles Colorados (red bean soup) this one is good to make when you want something vegetarian with no meat. Or to just serve over rice with other sides and meats.
This other one is Marilyn's Potaje de Frijoles Colorados, she only uses smoked ham hock for flavoring and puts calabaza and potato she likes to make like this because since it has no chunks of meat she can serve it as a simple soup over rice and with other sides as well.
Potaje de Frijoles Colorados (Red Bean Stew my Grandmas Pork version)
Here's another one I make that I haven't posted made with red kidney beans and everything is boiled from the blog "Cuban Homecooking Keeping the Tradition" alive (this is their picture) it's "Mery's Potaje de Frijoles Colorados" (Mery's version) her's uses lots of smoked meats and sausage, no sofrito but everything in one pot. A good one to make when your feeling lazy or for the Cubans too lazy to make a "sofrito" (haha no offense I do the same sometimes)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Caldo Gallego a Mi Manera (Galician Stew Nathan's Way)

This is my version of "Caldo Gallego" (Galician Stew) which is a popular bean stew cooked in the Northwestern region of Spain called "Galicia" It's not the authentic stew, but it's the version that I like best (and yes I will say for me it tastes better than the authentic ha ha sorry for any fellow Spaniards who are Galician reading this lol)

What makes my version different? Mine is a bowl of steaming hot beans with shredded beef, smokey dry cured slices of Spanish chorizo, and thin sliced savory salt pork pieces married with swiss chard and spiced with the fragrance and taste of sweet smoked Spanish paprika the signature spice of Spain :) and yes I just couldn't help but make a Cuban sofrito, minus the tomato (I don't know just felt like leaving it out)

If interested in cooking the authentic traditional one check out "Pilar Lechuza's" blog post for "Pilar Lechuza's Caldo Gallego" which is very very simple, basically it's just white beans boiled with meat usually salt pork, pork ribs etc.), spanish sausage, cooked with a chunk of preserved salted pork fat (I have no idea where to buy that here) then when everything is tender you add potatoes and turnip greens then salt to taste. Nothing more nothing less, very tasty and simple.

But I this is the version I really love :) I love the shredded beef in it, and boiling the flank steak for a long time with the beans it gives it a real good taste

-2 cups dried large white beans (like cannelloni)
-1 1/2-2 lbs flank steak
-1/2 of a square of salt pork (or a couple strips of bacon)

-1 smoked ham hock
-1 large dried Spanish Chorizo (cut in half, or 4 small dried ones like "El Mino")
-2 large bunches of swiss chard stems removed, washed well, and stack and roll them then cut them into strips or pieces
-1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
-1 large yellow onion finely chopped
-1 large green bell pepper finely chopped
-8 cloves of garlic finely minced
-1 tablespoon sweet smoked spanish paprika (Pimenton dulce de la Vera)
-salt to taste

(1) In a really large pot, add your white beans, with the smoked ham hock, spanish chorizo, salt pork or bacon, and flank steak,
bring to a rolling boil uncovered and skim off any scum.
(2) Cover and allow to simmer 2 hours maybe up to 3, it depends on how fast your beans cook (time varies based on how old the beans are or where you bought them) When tender and everything your pot will look like this. The red oil that forms on the top is from the Spanish Chorizo that was heavily infused with sweet smoked spanish paprika.
(3) Start making your sofrito, heat a frying pan with extra virgin olive oil on medium high, and sautee the onions and green bell peppers until translucent, add garlic and cook until fragrant, lower heat to low stir in 1 tablespoon of sweet smoked spanish paprika, and remove from heat. Add this sautee to your pot of beans and stir.

(4) Remove all the meats and sausage from the beans, and add your potatoes and swiss chard cook an additional 20-30 minutes until potatoes are tender together with swiss chard.

(5) Meanwhile the flank steak you removed, shred it by hand or with a fork when cool enough to handle, slice the spanish chorizo, slice your salt pork, remove meat from ham hock and you can even keep the skin if you like it.
(6) When potatoes are tender, add all the cut meats back to the pot of beans, taste for salt, add some if necessary, bring to a rolling boil and turn of heat you are done :) Serve with rice or bread.

I didn't cook this today but I was inspired to post it because I was reading one of my favorite blogs lately "Cuban in the Midwest" (seriously she posted some amazing stuff she posted some wicked good stuff this week, her version of "Potaje de Garbanzos" which I approve lol. and some "Mejillones al Ajillo" and these fried pork chops that have a type of "rosemary mojo sauce" which is like a cuban garlic citrus sauce she infused with rosemary.) all of which I will cook eventually.) anyways what inspired me to post this was her blog post titled "Posts that Never Made It" I have plenty of those, just pictures of recipes you've cooked and food you make but somehow they get lost or you forget and I remembered I had some pictures of my version of "Caldo Gallego" and so here it is today, I also posted it because "I.M." requested it, so this is for you girl :)

Cough cough please note if you have not tried sweet smoked Spanish paprika before you are truly missing out, you need to try it. And any Cuban who's NEVER had it, you are truly truly missing out, I guarantee if your Cuban this will become your favorite spice, you know how most of us love Spanish Chorizo... well the reason we love it is because it's heavily spiced with sweet smoked Spanish paprika, it's what makes Spanish Chorizo taste like Spanish chorizo, and anything you add this too will remind you of it, and give it that special taste. I know it use to be real hard to get a hold of, but lately I've seen it at Costco under the McCormick brand and some specialty stores. You can order it online from "La Tienda" as well (see the banner on top of my blog you can buy it from them, click on it and purchase lol) I however am lucky enough to have a good blogging buddy from Spain send me bags of the sweet smoked Spanish paprika straight from Spain and straight from "La Vera" region at that :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mole de Vaso (Cup Mole)

Like I've said in previous "Mole" (pronounced "mol- eh") posts. Mole can be considered a type of complex Mexican curry made with a combination of spices (cloves, cinnamon, pepper, etc.) dried chile's, nuts/ seeds, chocolate, and some unsuspected ingredients (bread, corn tortillas as a thickener, and stuff like plantains as a sweetener) however their are Mole's that use different ingredients and don't include chocolate (for example "Mole Verde"/ green mole, some versions of "Mole Almendrado"/ almond mole, etc.) but the commonly and well known one's do.

In the USA and even in Mexico when people think of Mole they will think of the one I described, and the Mole that comes to mind is the popular "Mole Poblano" which is a dark to redish brown color. HOWEVER almost no one makes it from scratch in general because it is very labour intensive, the long list of ingredients, and amount of time it consumes (yes it can take 5 hours sometimes longer maybe all day) if prepared from scratch.

The solution, well in Mexico a lot of people buy pre-made concentrated wet pastes which have all the ingredients and spices ground up to a thick paste, taking out a lot of the hard work, all the chilies, spices, and most everything already in the paste. Same goes for here in the USA, a popular brand of Mole paste is "Dona Maria" it is what most people here use, or imported mole pastes from Mexico or fresh one's made here are sometimes available.

So today I want to show people how to prepare the short-cut version of Mole using the Mole paste for the typical mole "Poblano" I do have the scratch version on my blog, but I know many probably won't make it so I want to share the convenient one :) and I personally only make Mole from scratch once a year and it's easy to mess up, when it's from scratch if you over toast or fry the chilies it may turn to bitter or burnt (it happened to me last year because i wasn't watching the time and heat) From my mother's side I am known for my "Mole Negro Oaxaceno" I will prepare it sometime this year (I usually make it around November and December) so stay tuned :)

So without further chit chat I present to you my "Abuelita Leonor's" recipe for short cut Mole which is amazingly delicious give it a try, :) (Abuelita Leonor is my grandmother from my mother's side and is originally from Guadalajara, Mexico) my grandmother calls the short cut version "Mole de Vaso"

Ingredients for boiling meat:
-5- 6 lbs of chicken or turkey (1 chicken and about 2 lbs of drumsticks or thigh and leg meat if using turkey, you can use a whole one, or buy legs & wings, etc)
-1/2 medium onion
-2-3 cloves garlic whole
-2 bay leaves
-1 tsp. ground cumin (optional)
-salt to taste
-1 teaspoonful chicken bouillon
-water (about 9 cups? 2 liters just enough to submerge you chicken or turkey)

Ingredients for the rest of the dish :)
-1 container 8. 5 oz. of "Dona Maria Mole"
-chicken or turkey stock
(from boiling the meat reserved as needed)
-1 onion minced
-1 can 8 oz/ 1 cup of tomato sauce
-1/2 cup of tomato ketchup
-1/4 cup of oil or lard (any oil will do in Mexican cooking usually lard is used or corn oil)
-1 whole tablet of Mexican Chocolate (popular one's are "Chocolate Abuelita" and "Ibarra")

Optional Ingredients (depends on how sweet you like it like how much chocolate taste you like or sweetness keep in mind the sauce will get sweet and stronger in taste as it cools and time goes by, the next day it will be stronger):
-1/2 tablet of Mexican Chocolate (in addition to the chocolate you already used)
-sugar to taste (add it in tablespoon increments, this is also optional)

Directions for boiling meat and making stock:
(1) Wash chicken or turkey really well, in my house we like to wash it once with water, drain, then wash it again in the sink sumberging it, adding a couple palmfulls of salt and rubbing it well, along with some cut limes nad their juice to get rid of any bad odor and taste, we then rinse once more and drain, then pat-dry. Cut your meat into sections.

(2) Bring water to a boil, add your chicken or turkey and the onion, garlic, bay leaves, bouillon powder, and salt to taste, cover and boil on medium low 35 minutes if using chicken and 2-3 hours if using turkey.

(3) When meat is tender and cooked it should look like this, take out the meat, set it aside, and strain the broth/ stock. Reserve and set aside.

Directions for forming the sauce:
(1) Open your mole paste container, add it to the blender, and blend it with enough chicken stock to liquify it. Set aside.

(2) Heat a large deep-pot on medium high, add oil or lard, when hot add onions and sautee until translucent and golden about 5-7 minutes,
add in tomato ketchup, give a good stir,
when it bubbles add tomato sauce,
when it bubbles again add in the blended mole paste that you liquified with chicken stock
(3) Bring it to a rolling boil, then lower heat to medium so the botttom doesn't stick, add your chocolate, and stir occasionally so it doesn't stick until chocolate melts, as your sauce boils you will notice that it starts to thicken up, add more reserved chicken stock a little at a time in about 1/2 cup increments, until it is as thick or thin as you like it, the thickness is to your personal preference in my house we like it the consistency of gravy, like just thick enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. After it's as thick as you'd like taste to adjust salt, and see if you wanna add the other 1/2 tablet of chocolate and if you desire additional sugar to taste. However my mother doesn't like it on the sweet side so we left it as is at this point.
(4) After it boils 10 minutes, add your chicken and boil an additional 5 minutes. Turn off heat and you can serve with "Arroz Mexicano Rojo" (Mexican red rice) and warm tortillas if you'd like "Frijoles de la Olla" (pinto beans boiled with garlic and onion) goes well with this too.
Now my post isn't over for those of you interested in the from scratch version of this dish check out my post for "Mole Poblano" and if interested in other types of Mole's I also have the recipe for my version of "Mole Almendrado" (almond based mole) and "Mole Verde" (green mole)

-You may or may not have leftover sauce after eating all the meat with the delicious Mole sauce, if you have leftover sauce, it's great in the morning with some eggs, you can make some sunny side up eggs, serve it over rice, then pour mole sauce mmmmm... or add it to a bowl of boiled pinto beans and enjoy with warm tortillas, even scrample some eggs, throw hot mole sauce over it and enjoy with tortillas as well, just whatever you so don't throw away any leftover Mole sauce :)

If your truely in a hurry as well there is a pork version that is faster, get pork spare ribs or pork shoulder meat, cut into chunks about 1 or 2 inch chunks, brown in lard or oil, add minced onion when translucent add ketchup, then tomato, and dilute the mole paste with water or store-bought chicken or beef stock/ broth, add it to the pork, bring to a boil, add more water or chicken or beef stock to thin out the sauce while it boils to your liking, along with the chocolate taste for salt. If you used water you'll have to add 1 beef bouillon cube or 2 teaspoons of chicken bouillon cube then salt to taste. Simmer until everything is tender. (I will do a detailed post for this in the future for those that might be interested :)