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)


I.M. said...

The stew look wonderful. I like the "levanta muertos" reference. I remember my uncle would sweat while eating potajes and would explain with a smile on his face "es la sustancia"--nutritional value.

Mamey said...

Que rico!!!! Perfect for our 110 degree L.A. day! The hotter it is the more I like potajes. Sometimes I exchange the potatoes for malanga.

Nathan said...


I know right in this hot L.A. weather (I don't remember it being that hot before but maybe im barely paying attention ha ha) my thermo thing is telling me it's 111 degrees !!!! IM LIKE OMFG lol.
I've heard of exchanging potatoes for Malanga root, my grandmother has mentioned it before I am sure it is way way way better with "Malanga" which one do you like to use? The little to medium malangas at the store or those giant asian one's? Sometimes they come peeled, vacuum packed and have these slight purple specs it's pretty and fragrant

Mamey said...

I like the small ones...also there are some that have pink flesh, but usually only available in Florida. I do like red beans with potatoes though. BTW, it was 113 degrees in downtown LA yesterday...played hooky from work and went to Manhattan Beach with enchilado de cangrejo (made the night before), Cuban bread, maduros, avocado and beer! Woohoo!

Nathan said...

You need to share that recipe for Enchilado de Cangrejos! Truth be told I've never made it and it's time to try it haha :) (I have seen it in a bunch of books but last time I made your "Salmon a la Vizcaina" that was amazing so I rather use your recipe :)

Marie said...

You are awesome! I'm half-Cuban, and I've been looking for a recipe for frijoles colorados ever since my grandma passed away in 2007 that could match hers (she never wrote down a single recipe; she kept them all in her head). I'm going to have to try this one out. Thanks!

ShyGuy said...

Pardon my ignorance, but what makes this a stew and not a chili or a bean soup? Is it the meat that has to be tenderized in the stew?

Nathan said...

It's not a soup because it's not as thin as soup. It's not a "chili" because to Americans chili's are usually ground meat married with beans and have a spice mixture known as "chili powder" sometimes topped with cheese(it's a tex mex thing, a mild I guess american version of the Mexican "Chile Con Carne" which is meat stewed in any spicy sauce tomato based usually.

It is a stew because beans are "stewed" with meat and vegetables and the final product is not watery it's slightly thick, like a loose to thick gravey consistency.

For Cubans "Potaje" is any thick bean stew with meat and vegetables.

For Spaniards "Potaje" means any beans cooked with vegetables and sometimes meat or cured meats it can be thick or thin but never watery to the point of a brothy soup unless it's done with chickpeas sometimes then it may be like that but that's because the person added to much water.

Nathan said...

Lemme know how it turns out, my favorite red bean potaje is actually either "Sonias Potaje de Colorados" or the "Sopa de Colorados"

Anonymous said...

Most of these recipies are missing a key ingredient: chunks of platano macho maduro with the skin left on. This is the same plantain used to make platanito maduro frito. It is added with the calabaza. This gives the potage a sweet taste.

Nathan said...

I don't know where in Cuba your from/ family was from or with what Cubans you eat but adding Platano Maduro skin on is not typical or common practice I've never seen it done. I'm sure it's delicious but it is not the custom of my family or the Cubans I know that cook, nor the cooks who's recipes I featured.

However I do know the cooking in "Oriente" region (Eastern Cuba) can be different, and I've seen one recipe online that cooks red beans with yellow plantain

and seen another that incorporates pureed ripe plantain into lentil stew.

Also when my family serves red bean potaje we sometimes like to put little slices of banana cuz we like it.