Thursday, April 28, 2011

Salpicón (Mini Cuban Meatloaf )

I first heard of Salpicón which is another variety of Cuban Meat loaf at one of my favorite Cuban blogs called "Cuban in the Midwest" it was 2 small meat loafs, simmered in a typical cuban style tomato based sauce (you the know the drill the sofrito of onion, garlic, bell peppers, lots of olive oil, tomato, etc.) Growing up my Tata/ grandma NEVER made "Cuban" style meat loaf, so it has always been something unknown to me until I started reading other Cuban blogs.

My first introduction to Cuban-style meat loaf was Marta Darby from the blog "My Big Fat Cuban Family" she posted a large fried meat loaf, that was simmered in another variation of the cuban tomato based sauces, except it wasn't called "Salpicon" it was called "Pulpeta" it seems Salpicon and "Pulpeta" are cousins ha ha both seem to be loafs of meat that fried and simmered in those cuban creole sauces on stove top.

The main difference is that "Salpicon" are little loafs, and the Pulpeta are huge meat loafs usually with hard boiled eggs in the center. (Btw I've already cooked my own version of Pulpeta if anyone cares to see the post here's the link: my Pulpeta is awesome ;)

Anyways back to the Salpicon, these small fried loafs, reminded me of a large sausage in a savory creole sauce (don't thing wrong perverts ha ha) and so the recipe I came up with was inspired by the recipe I saw in the blog "Cuban in the Midwest" but this is my version/ variation. The way I made it was I wanted these fried meat loafs to taste like a spicy version smokey Spanish chorizo (like the Spanish chorizo's from La Rioja region of Spain) who's main elements are hot smoked spanish paprika and lots of garlic, thus I seasoned my ground meat mixture like that, and the ground ham in the meat mixture I used gives it that cured salty taste in addition the sauce I wanted it to accent the flavors of the loaf so I added to the sauce oregano because oregano and smoked spanish paprika really get along well together, not to mention I've noticed ground meat goes very well with oregano (of course this is just my opinion from messing around in the kitchen)

So here's my recipe hope you guys enjoy it :)

Main Ingredients:
1 lbs. ground beef
-1 lbs. ground pork
-1/2 lbs. ground sweet ham
-5 eggs
-1 1/2 cups bread crumbs or cracker meal
-1/2 head garlic (peeled, through a garlic pressed or mashed to a paste in a mortar)
-1 tablespoon 1/2 hot or sweet smoked spanish paprika
-salt to taste (I used 2 teaspoons depends how salty your ham or bread or cracker meal is)

Ingredients for Sauce:
-1/4- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large onion julienned
2 large green or red bell pepper julienned
1/2 head of garlic finely minced, or through a garlic press or mortar
2 can 8 oz. tomato sauce
2 cup of water
1 cup dry white wine or red wine
1 tablespoon ground oregano
to taste (about 1 1/2 teaspoon)

Directions for loafs:
Mix all the main ingredients together, but do not over mix the mixture or it will be tough.

(2) Mold into 3-4 small loaves like picture below. Allow loaves to rest in fridge about 1 hour in a container, or plate with plastic wrap, so they marinade, and firm up.

(3) Pass the loafs through beaten egg, then bread crumbs. Pat the loaves so the bread crumb mixture sticks.

(4) Heat a large frying pan with about 1/4- 1/3 cup olive oil and carefully fry the loaves on all sides til browned.
Set aside in a large deep pot.
Directions for sauce:
In the pan where you fried the loafs, sautee julienned onions and bell peppers until translucent, add the garlic and stir a addition 2 minutes until fragrant.
(2) Add dry white wine or red and de-glaze, and tomato sauce, and thin out the sauce with some water (I use about 1 cup) stir in oregano and bring to rolling boil.
(3) Add the sauce to the pot where you have the fried loafs.
Put that pot over high heat and when everything comes to a boil,
cover and simmer on medium low for about 25- 30 minutes, then flip the loafs carefully and simmer an additional 25- 30 minutes.

Turn off heat, and garnish with finely minced parsley or cilantro if you have it.
(5) To serve remove loafs, when serving serve a 1 inch thick slice of the loaf, and spoon sauce over it. Goes very well with white or yellow rice or mashed potatoes and a salad of your choice

Yeah camera is still messed up, I can't see what I'm taking a picture of ha ha... anyone wanna buy me a new one?
(2) I made a lot as you can see I used a real large pan to braise all of meat loafs. You can cut the recipe in half. This recipe made like 16 servings. 4 of us ate one of the loafs (my Dad was missing otherwise it would've been 5) but it makes great leftovers, one day eat it with rice, other day eat it with mashed potatoes, and it would be great cold inbetween some french or cuban bread or simply sliced and inside whatever sandwich or cold with crackers.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ga Kho Gung (Chicken Braised in Caramel Sauce with Ginger)

I saw a wonderful recipe that appealed to me on the blog "Wandering Chopsticks" (this blog has some delicious Vietnamese recipes, she cooks other stuff too, and I love the background stories she shares. It's just a real honest genuine blog I enjoy) scrolling through her recipes I bumped into a recipe for "Ga Kho Gung" (Chicken braised in caramel sauce with ginger) I was a little unclear on how to make the caramel sauce and work with it so I saw a video on youtube that was helpful and prepared the chicken in a very similar way (practically same recipe different ratios) here's the video for those interested:

Do not be intimidated by the caramel sauce, it's rather simply, some people buy it pre-made but it's not hard. There's different methods, I've seen some that melt the sugar directly into the pan, others add a little oil then the sugar into the pan, and other's add sugar and water to a cold pan then bring it to boil on high til water evaporates. I use that method (the water with sugar) because it's the same way I make my caramel for Flan (a type of spanish dessert) and I feel comfortable doing it that way.

Anyways in Vietnamese cuisine caramel sauce is used as a base for many braised meats or fish (any protien seems to be feautured in some form of caramel sauce) it really is comfort food, these sauces are not overly sweet they just have like I don't know hard to describe, it's like this strong savory caramel taste, slightly salty and isn't overly sugary. My favorite of these dishes in caramel sauce is "Thit Heo Kho Trung" (Vietnamese Caramelized Pork and Egg) everyone seems to have a different version of this dish but my favorite version regardless of how simple or whatever is the one my ex's mother use to prepare which had only garlic as it's aromatic (I loved it!) I'll share my attempt to recreate that dish another time. (I believe his mother would marinade pork belly cubes with fish sauce, brown sugar, tons of garlic then quickly brown it maybe, add coconut juice, some water. add hard boiled eggs and more fish sauce to taste) that's another story though.

If you learn to make the caramel sauce this may become one of your favorite quick go to dishes, it is EXTREMELY quick to prepare, you will have it ready within 30- 40 minutes no joke.

The version I'm presenting today is with onion, garlic and strongly flavored with ginger. But there is variations that omit the ginger and onion and just use a lot of finely minced lemongrass and red thai chilies (I love the latter) anyways well here goes. The recipe I'm sharing is from both the video and Wandering Chopsticks blog. Stuff like fish sauce, salt, and sugar can always be adjusted to taste, as well as teh amount of onion, garlic, ginger (however know that ginger is a main element of this recipe so don't skimp on it) These are the ratios I used and I loved it.

Ingredients for Caramel Sauce:
-3 tablespoons white sugar
-1/3 cup water

Main Ingredients:
-3 1/2 lbs. chicken bone in, washed, cut into bite size pieces, patted dry
-1 onion finely chopped
-6 cloves garlic finely chopped
-2 1/2 inches ginger root, peeled, cut into rounds then thinly julienned
-1 1/2 cups water
-3 tablespoons fish sauce (a good quality like 3 Crabs or Flying Lion)
-2 teaspoons salt (more to taste)
-3 tsp. white sugar
Ingredients for garnish (optional)
-1 large sprig of green onion/ scallion washed and chopped into small pieces

(1) Have all your ingredients ready and on hand you DO NOT want to burn or ruin your caramel sauce, don't worry it is relatively simple not hard at all just be attentive. Put 3 tablespoons sugar in a pot, and add 1/3 cup water, bring to high heat and stir well with chop stick or sometype of stick it'll start bubbling vigorously
(2) Eventually the water will evaporate and it'll start darkening when it turns a dark golden brown (NOT BLACK) Keep an eye on it do not leave it alone during the whole process, if you burn your caramel sauce you ruin your dish (I've practiced a bit with Vietnamese dishes that use caramel sauce and have learned through trial and error) anyways when your caramel turns a golden dark brown like this
add your chicken all at once, ginger, garlic, onions, fish sauce, additional sugar and salt.
(3) Stir to coat everything in caramel, keep stirring about 2-4 minutes until chicken is no longer pink (just make sure it changed color like opaque)

Add water 1 1/2 cups and bring to a strong boil, add black pepper, cover and simmer on medium low for atleast 20 minutes. I like to simmer it 40 minutes and get the meat real tender and infused with the flavors.
(5) Turn off heat and serve with steamed white rice. You may garnish with chopped scallions.

I don't know if this is authentic or not but I like to serve it with like any plain boiled vegetable or a simple sautee of leafy greens sauteed with a little oil, garlic, and a bit of salt.

P.S. You guys need to try her "Bo Kho" it is very well spiced and rich!

(1) Be sure once the chicken comes to a boil in the beginning you taste for salt, like atleast add 3 tbsp. fish sauce and 2 tsp salt if your using 3 1/2 lbs chicken from the very beginning because since the chicken wasn't marinaded or anything you want to boil it with enough well sodium to make sure it penetrates it right from the beginning to ensure flavorful results :)

(2) I'm not an expert or anything in Vietnamese food, it is a little out of my comfort zone, so any form of constructive criticism, and suggestions are more than welcomed :)

*Yeah the pictures look kinda retarded :/ haven't gotten a new camera, and like my camera is pretty broken and like the screen doesn't display what I am taking a picture of so yeah.... but heck I'm still bloggin. Just bare with me and if you can't well too bad LOL. but hey much love and peace ha ha

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pollo en Salsa Barbacoa (Chicken in Cuban-style BBQ sauce)

Pollo in spanish is chicken (well most know this) and "Salsa Barbacoa" means "BBQ sauce". Literal translation for this dish is "Chicken in BBQ Sauce" This chicken is tangy, sweet, salty, and smokey. The chicken is marinaded in something called "mojo" pronounced "mo-ho" which is a mixture of lime or lemon or sour orange with garlic, and salt sometimes other spices are added, it is often used to marinade meats in Cuban Cuisine, then the chicken is floured, browned in butter and baked or stewed in a homemade BBQ sauce which has ingredients common in the cuban kitchen (wine, sugar, lime, ketchup, butter, onion, and soy sauce) yes soy sauce, stuff like fried rice and Chinese fast food was always popular in Cuba due to Chinese migration.

Anyways, this recipe I saw it in a Cuban group called "Comida Cubana" on facebook (it's a wonderful group dedicated to the Cuban kitchen, unfortunately it's all in Spanish for those who don't understand the language). I had never cooked this dish before but saw it posted on that group, and on a few Cuban sites, some say it's from Nitza Villapol's cookbook called "Cocina al Minuto " (for those that don't know Nitza Villapol is what many consider the Cuban Julia child and many Cuban woman who had never been in the kitchen learned from this book, however I will add I never learned Cuban food through her, nor prepare everything the same way she does or always agree with her way of doing things lol. but I do like her recipes for idea's or inspiration.)

According to some people who commented the recipe it's apparently a party food for some, made on special occasions, and is held in high esteem, the recipe is also an attempt to reproduce a delicious BBQ chicken popular in the 80's from a restaurant called "Polinesio Restaurant del Hotel Habana Libre" in well Havana, Cuba. Formally known from word of mouth as "Trader Vicks" in 1958 Cuba.

I do re-call my grandmother making a Cubanized BBQ chicken which was chicken marinaded in Mojo then deep-fried til cooked through then tossed it in BBQ sauce and served. Maybe this was her version of the dish? I've also seen in several Spanish blogs dedicated to well Spanish Cuisine dishes called "Pollo en Salsa Barbacoa" which braise/ stew chicken in other homemade variations of BBQ sauce. Anyways well here's the recipe I found and let me tell you it was delicious and a hit in my house, served with white rice, black beans, and a salad :) Give it a try you'll be pleasantly surprised, and it isn't overly sweet either. I'm glad I tried it :)

Main Ingredients:

-3-4 lbs. chicken cut into sections (cleaned)
-1/2 cup sour orange juice (you can sub for 1/2 orange 1/2 lemon or lime juice)
-1/2 head garlic finely minced preferably mashed to paste
-1 teaspoon salt
-ground black pepper to taste (about 1 tsp.)

Ingredients to dust chicken:
-1/2 cup flour
-2 tsp. sweet smoked Spanish paprika (I used Pimenton Picante which is a hotter version but in my opinion it isn't spicy)
-1 tsp. salt

Ingredients for sauce:
-1 cup ketchup (I used a brand with no High-Fructose Corn syrup you don't have to)
-1/2 cup dry white wine (red will work too)
-1 tablespoon soy sauce
-1 tablespoon sugar
-juice of 1 small lime
-1 grated or finely chopped onion
-1/3 cup water
-2 tablespoons melted butter

(1) Marinade the chicken in a large bowl with salt, pepper, sour orange juice, and garlic for atleast 30 minutes, preferably 2 hrs or over night. Set aside in fridge.

(2) Mix all the sauce ingredients (ketchup, wine, soy sauce, sugar, lime, onion, water, butter), in a small pot, and bring to a boil, then remove from heat, and set aside.

(3) When ready to prepare your chicken pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

(4) Mix your flour, paprika, and salt in a large plate set aside.

(5) Heat a large frying pan with about 1 stick butter (if you must margarine I suppose) and dust the chicken in flour and shake off excess then brown on both sides, in batches.
When all your chicken is browned, throw your BBQ sauce in the pan and de-glaze with the sauce,
coat the chicken in the sauce.

(6) Transfer to a baking dish, pour any leftover sauce over,
and cover with aluminum foil, bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes in oven at 325 degrees, then uncover and raise heat to 400 and cook an additional 10- 15 minutes until a browned color is achieved on top :) Remove from oven and serve.
(1) If done in the oven like how I mentioned you get a thick glaze on it, however if you do not want to use the oven and still get delicious results your other option is to after browning the chicken in batches, throw it all in a pot, along with the sauce, add a bit more water, bring to a boil and cover to simmer on low for about 45 minutes until tender :)
(2) There is another dish many Cubans call "Pollo en Salsa Barbacoa" but it is prepared completely different and does have a different taste. And is extremely quick, simple, and is done stove-top. Only has 3 ingredients including the chicken LOL. if you don't count some water, I'll share it next time. Stay tuned, never have made it before but from the list of ingredients it's bound to be delicious :)

(3) Still no new camera so sorry for the photos