Sunday, October 11, 2009

Estofado de Puerco Con Papa, Zanahoria, y Judias Verdes (Spanish-style Pork Stew with Potato, Carrot, and Green Beans)

Pork is stewed in a savory flavorful tomato based sauce that is very smokey and rich, the smokiness comes from freshly ground black pepper, the wonderful fragrant smoked sweet and hot Spanish paprika that gives Spanish chorizo's it's signature taste, the richness comes from the rendered pork fat and chunks of meat to finish potatoes, carrots and green beans are simmered in the sauce to make this a complete one pot meal that can stand alone, or marry with rice or bread.

I came up with this recipe myself on Saturday morning. I had no idea what to cook for Saturday when I was planning on Friday night. I didn't want to making a simple Cuban "Guiso de Carne de Puerco"/ "Fricasse de Puerco" (Cuban Pork stew/ Pork Fricasse) or a "Lechon Asado" (which I will post in the future) I was still craving a tomato based dish since the weather was a little chili. I was also wanted to use the delicious smoked sweet and hot spanish paprika my friend IDania sent me from Spain (I thank her a million, it was so nice of her I truly appreciate).

So I thought hey I'll make something similar to "Guiso de Carne de Puerco" but instead use the paprikas I recieved and add some carrot and potatoes the way I make my "Fricasse de Pavo" (turkey Fricasse) then when I was adding the carrots and potatoes my mother told me, "Hey you can add green beans that way you don't have to make a salad or tempted to make other vegetable sides if your tired, you know my mother when she made "Carne Con Papas" (beef stew) for her Iranian boss, he told her to add green beans, he liked it that way because in their culture theirs a meat stew that incorporates green beans you should try it" (she told me in Spanish I just translated) so I ended up adding green beans. And that's the story of how I came up with this dish :)

I loved the end the result and hope some of you guys give it a try :)

-4 lbs. pork meat cut into 1 inch cubes (I use the pork but or leg)
-freshly ground black pepper to taste (I use enough to generously sprinkle all pork)
-salt to taste (I added about 3 teaspoons I don't measure it though)
-1-2 tablespoon rendered pork fat/ lard
-1 green bell pepper minced
-1 red bell pepper minced
-2 medium onions minced
-8 large cloves of garlic minced
-1 can 15 oz. or 2 cans 8 oz. tomato sauce
-1 cup dry white wine or red wine (your choice)
-1 tablespoon sweet smoked Spanish paprika (Pimienton Dulce de la Vera)
-1 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika (Pimienton Picante de la Vera)
-3 dry whole bay leaves
-1 1/2 teaspoons monosodium glutamine/ msg (optional)
-5 potatoes peeled, cut in half
-10 medium carrots peeled cut into 2 inch rounds
-1/2 lbs. green beans (washed, edges trimmed, cut in half)
(1) Heat a very large pan (I mean large I used a "Paellera" to cook this, which is those giant pans used for making "Paella" which is Spanish yellow rice with seafood and sometimes meat.) Heat the pan on very high heat, you can test it by splashing some water, if it screams and dances it's hot.

(2) Melt very little lard to barely coat the bottom of the pan, when it almost smokes from the heat add pork in one layer, generously season now with salt and pepper and don't stir. For awhile until browned on one side.

(3) Meanwhile you can prep while the pork is browning and chop and take out all the other ingredients. While pork is browning after awhile maybe 10 minutes, start stirring occasionally until any released liquid evaporates and let pork render all it's fat and brown all over.

(4) Set pork aside and lower heat to medium high, you should have generous amounts of rendered pork fat that is delicious, now add red and green bell peppers as well as onions until fragrant stirring occasionally about 5-7 minutes, then add garlic and stir for about 2 minutes until very fragrant but don't burn it. Now add sweet and hot smoked spanish paprika stir 30 seconds and quickly add wine to reduce and deglaze the whole pan, now add tomato sauce and bring to a rolling boil, stir a bit then when thickened and reduced add about 3-4 cups water.
(5) Now bring all contents in pan back to a boil, and pork meat back along with some bay leaves and at this point add the msg if using. Cover and boil for about 35- 40 minutes until tender.
(6)Then uncover, add more water if necessary and bring to a rolling boil now add potatoes, carrots and green beans, cover and cook 30- 40 minutes.
The potatoes absorbed some of the liquid so it reduced, if you want more sauce than add a bit more water but remember to salt more if you add more liquid.
(7) Now turn off heat and ready to serve. You can eat it with some fluffy white rice or yellow rice, or even just in a large bowl with some delicious crusty bread (bolillos, french bread, Cuban bread, your choice I love those though) Heck you can add maybe another potato or more and make this meal stand alone without rice or bread.


Monosodium Glutamine is optional, I know some people are strongly against it, if you are then simply skip it. It is used in Asian cooking and Cuban cooking uses it under the brand name "Accent" or when they use powdered "Goya Sazon" packets to enhance dishes. Also in Latin America it is used without them knowing many use "Knorr" or "Cubito Maggi" and other powdered chicken and meat bouillons that produce the msg taste and are blended with it. In Spain it is sometimes used as"Pastilla de Pescado" or "Pastilla de Carne" which is like instant broth. Msg produces the flavor "umami" which is giving the sense of a meaty or brothy taste. I am guilty of using it sometime.

Also the flavor is produced by free glutamines which is natural in certain stuff like meat, tomatoes, mushrooms, eggplant, yeast extract as well as cured meats and sausages.

It's up to you, I personally don't have an allergy to it, neither does anyone in my household. Some are sensitive to it some aren't.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sopa de Frijoles Colorados (Cuban Red Bean Soup)

Red and Black beans are the beans in Cuban cooking that usually accompany white rice, and any other side dishes. They are almost always served with dinner or some main meal of the day, They are a staple (though with modern times and all I've seen that due to time constraints or not that much involvement in the kitchen many just eat rice and on the other hand beans become occasional) More commonly the staple is black beans (for western Cuban cooking) and red beans is more popular in Eastern Cuba (or so I've read somewhere and or assume because of the popularity of "Congri" there as opposed to "Moros" which is more common in western Cuba) usually a meal will have.

In addition we sometimes cook large heavy Spanish and Cuban style bean stews with chorizo, lots of beef or pork, orange fleshed squash, potatoes, etc. one large hardy stand alone bean stew. These heavy stews can stand alone and need only rice or bread, and if one wishes a salad. Red beans are sometimes utilized to make these heavy "Potajes" such as my "Potaje de Frijoles Colorados" but sometimes I'm in the mood for a simple red bean soup that I can eat with as a side with any meal to accompany my rice, and meat or seafood sides and veggies.

So here I present a simple red bean soup that isn't a main stand alone meal, it just a simple red bean stew to be eaten as a side or over rice with whatever you'd like. A good change from when you get tired of eating the typical Cuban black beans (although I never do, but I like variety anyways)

-2 cups dry uncooked large red beans washed and drained
-water (enough to submerge red beans about 1 1/2 tsp 2 inches)
-1 onion minced
-1/2 head of garlic peeled minced and or mashed to a paste (garlic press or mortar)
-1 can 8 oz. tomato sauce
-4-6 cachucha peppers leave whole (depends on their size)
-1/4 to 1/3 cups lard or bacon grease (use pork fat for this NOT optional i.m.o)
-1/2 lbs. pork ham or pork meat cut into small 1/2 inch cubes (optional)
-1 small ham bone or pork bone (optional)
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1/2 teaspoon oregano
-salt to taste (I put about 1 1/2- 2 teaspoons eyeballed)

(1) Bring beans to a boil in water with pork bone or ham bone (optional). Boil until tender about 1 1/2- 2 hours depends.

(2) When beans are tender, heat lard or bacon grease (you can render some bacon grease by mincing bacon and frying it until it renders fat, and proceed), then add cubed pork meat or ham and brown meat (maybe takes 10- 15 minutes remember the meat is optional), when meat is browned (if you added some meat) add onion and cook until onion is translucent about 5 minutes, then add garlic and stir until fragrant. Add ground cumin and oregano stir a bit and when fragrant like 30 seconds add tomato sauce. Bring to a rolling boil
(3) Add what you sauteed in the lard and or bacon grease to the boiling beans when they are tender. Then add a handful of cachucha peppers (we call "Aji Cachucha"), add salt if needed, let beans simmer uncovered on medium heat until thickened stirring occasionally an additional 10- 20 minutes.
(4) Your done enjoy.
Please Note:
Even if the red beans are being served as a side or soup to accompany other stuff, I still like adding a little bit of chopped up pork meat because it lends good flavor as well as the bone. And it's not that much only 1/2 lbs. meat for 1 lbs. beans. You can leave out the meat completely if you wish and just make a "bacon" sofrito to.

(2) If you don't have "aji cachucha"/ cachucha peppers simply substitute by frying together with the onions 1 green bell pepper minced.

(3) Red beans depend heavily on pork, they are usually always cooked with pork products and are best that way to. But if for some reason your super kosher or paranoid (even though pork fat is less saturated than butter, high in monounsaturated fat, and most of it's saturated fat is stearic acid which converts to mono-fat in the body) then you can substitute for a good quality olive oil I guess, but it WONT BE THE SAME!
In Addition
I'm submitting this recipe over to Cook Sister who is hosting the famous My Legume Love Affair this month, brainchild of Susan at The Well-Seasoned Cook.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Empanadilla de Carne (Mini Galician Meat Pies)

This is a repost of my old post for "Empanadilla de Carne" I feel I didn't do such a good job last time at taking the pictures, and just didn't make them the best I could. I'm reposting it.

This recipe is "Pilar Lechuza" who cooks traditional home-style Galician food, she is what I consider the "Queen of Empanadas" she is very skillful at what she cooks, and of course the "Empanadas" of other countries originate in Galicia, Spain (or so it is claims).

Ingredients for dough:
-1/2 cup dry white wine
-1/2 cup water
-1/2 cup oil (preferably oil released from cooking the filling, but if not I suggest heating olive oil on medium heat until it get's hot then turn off and stir in a big fat pinch of sweet smoked spanish paprika to infuse the oil, don't burn the paprika be careful, then strain and use to make dough)
-1/2- 1 teaspoon salt
-plain all purpose flour (as much as needed to form dough)

Ingredients for filling I used today:
-1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
-1 onion minced
-1 green bell pepper minced
-5 cloves garlic finely minced
-1 can 8 oz. tomato sauce
-salt to taste (about 1 1/2 teaspoon)
-1 heaping teaspoon sweet smoked spanish paprika
-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (seems like a lot but it will be drained to be used to make the dough this oil will be very flavorful for the dough)
(1) Prepare filling by heating oil, sautee onions and bell peppers 5 minutes on medium high add meat season with salt and brown rendering the meats fat on medium high, then add garlic sautee until fragrant, then add sweet smoked spanish paprika stir a bit when fragrant add tomato sauce stir and raise heat, let the tomato reduce and oil starts frying it. Finally remove heat and put meat filling on a strainer to drain fat over a large bowl about 5 minutes which will be used to make dough mine yielded exactly 1/2 cup flavored oil.

(2) Set aside meat drained meat mixture and leave oil in large bowl, in large bowl add dry white wine, water, and salt, start stirring in flour little by little with your hand until the dough no longer sticks to your hand and becomes workable. Transfer to a floured surface, work dough.

(3) Stretch dough out on floured surface with a rolling pin, cut into round flat circles using whatever you have, put some meat filling and fold over, seal with a fork. DO NOT SEAL WITH WATER the dough is oily and water will not stick. It doesn't need egg either, just press well, and seal with fork. The dough tends to shrink, I cut it into circles from the rolled dough, then again roll out those circles individually to and proceed with adding filling and sealing.

(4) Heat oil on medium high to high (but not super high) to fry empanadas, fry until browned on all sides. Drain, set on a large plate with paper towels to absorb oil, I used a large baking pan.I didn't have enough filling to finish all the dough so we made a thin large one which ended up being delicious and crispy as well.
I served it with a raw salad for my late lunch

IMPORTANT PLEASE NOTE! Fillings can vary:
(1)Shredded "Fricasse de Pollo" which is a chicken stew (see recipe by clicking on link)
(2)Picadillo without the potatoes leftover see recipe for "Picadillo Salteado"
(3)Leftover "Ropa Vieja" (shredded beef)
(4)Or Pilar Lechuza's filling done in the old post which was a tasty ground pork filling click on link. It's in spanish though. The filling is basically ground pork sauteed in olive oil with onion, garlic, and a large grated tomato seasoned with salt and sweet smoked paprika
(5)Cooked rotisseri shredded chicken mixed with grated cheese of your choice (I like Monterrey jack)
(6)Any leftover meat dish in a sauce shredded. Take any meat cooked leftover meat, shred or chop finely it, sautee lots of minced onion, maybe garlic in olive oil, add a little tomato sauce maybe some sweet smoked spanish paprika and there's your filling.


These came out delicious, just made they are very crispy and delicious, enjoy hot and fresh because over time if left out they lose their crispiness, you'd have to reheat them in the oven at 375 or something to get them crispy again. Or the toaster oven. So best enjoy fresh :)

ALSO I make another delicious Empanada dough that Marilyn from "My Cuban Traumas" taught me :) check out the post for "Empanadas Cubanas" larger meat pies are "Empanadas Gallega" (Galician Pies) I'll start making a larger variety of those in the winter using Pilar's knowledge and what I have available. :)