Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tamal en Cazuela (Cuban Polenta w/ Pork)

For those not familiar with Cuban cuisine, or those not exposed to the really down home, not in Cuban restaurant type dishes or the more rarily occasionally prepared dishes let me introduce you to "Tamal en Cazuela" it is essentially polenta/ a creamy corn porridge made from either course or fine cornmeal or freshly ground corn stewed with generous fried pork pieces and a sofrito (the base of Cuban cooking onion, garlic, bell pepper sometimes tomato) kissed with cumin and oregano.

Of course there are tons of variations, but I think mine kicks ass he he and is pretty simple and awesome (I've tried other Cubans "Tamal en Cazuela" and find it to acidic I really don't think it needs wine, or vinegar, or sour citrus as many Cubans like to add, or an excessive amount of canned tomato which I feel is what makes it too acidic...) the name of the recipe literally translates to "Tamale in a Pot/ stew" and Cuban tamales aren't sour so my tamale in a pot won't be either...

Anyways so I prepared this yesterday not really using a recipe but just what I believe would make it taste good or how it should be he he. Like I prepared it the same way my grandmother explains Cuban tamales to me except it was in the form of a corn porridge/ stew and it was a big hit, my family went gaga for it, and my Spaniard/ Cuban grandmother whom is hard to please or never really compliments food unless it's amazing let out a approving "mmmmmmmm quedo muy bueno mijito" which she rarily does (translates to "mmmmmmm came out real good son") lol. and her approval is all that matters in the dinner table when she's with us anyways lol. (I love my Tata/ Abuela :)

At the same time I wasn't really surprised she likes it because my grandmother is a sucker for any type of Cuban style polenta dishes, or puddings.

-2 lbs. well marbled pork meat (from the leg or thigh often sold as pork butt) cut into small cubes
-1 onion minced
-1 bell pepper minced
-6 cloves garlic finely minced or through a garlic press
-1/2- 1 cup tomato sauce or 3 fresh grated or pureed tomatoes
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1 fat pinch ground oregano
-ground black pepper to taste
-salt to taste
-1 1/2 cups coarse or finely ground cornmeal
-10- 12 cups water
-1 can of creamed corn

(1) First thing you want to do is wash your cut pork, put it in a deep-pan cover with water not alot just enough to barely cover, add 2 tsp. salt, black pepper to taste, and a fat pinch of cumin. To this add 2 tablespoonfuls of lard or olive oil. Bring to a boil on high, stir and leave uncovered
(2) Meanwhile chop all the stuff for your sofrito (the onion, garlic, bell pepper) and prep everything. Then get a large pot and add your 1 1/2 cups of cornmeal, cover with water generously (don't measure at this point we are just washing it) give it a good stir, and wait 3 minutes or less for the cornmeal to settle at the bottom, then slowly and carefully pour most of the water out, repeat this once or twice. This is just a habit my grandmother taught me, she likes to wash the cormeal.
(3) Now after doing that add about 10- 12 cups water, 1 tablespoon salt, and I like to add 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar so it has the sweetness of fresh corn (really depends how thick or thin you want your stew), and put on the stove over high heat, stirring constantly until it comes to a boil (this takes awhile) then lower heat to low and stir occasionally scraping bottom while you do other stuff.
(4) At this point like seen above the water you covered the pork with should evaporate or is close to and allow meat to brown all over, and add you onion, garlic, and bell pepper, allow to cook down and stir the pork occasionally for about 8 minutes on medium high heat til onions are translucent and garlic very fragrant stir in ground cumin, then add tomato and stir let cook an additional 2 minutes. Meanwhile stir your cornmeal to make sure it doesn't stick to bottom of pot while you were doing all that.
(5) Now add your pork, onion, garlic, bell pepper, tomato and spice mixture you had all frying up together in the seperate pan to the cornmeal, along with the can of creamed corn. Raise heat to medium and stir constantly for about 5 minutes, add salt to taste (I added about 1 teaspoon more) if needed.
(6) Turn off heat and ready to serve
I served it with a nice salad of thinly sliced tomato, lettuce, onion, tossed in lime, olive oil, and salt.

Yeah I know the pictures look "shitty" it's because I just moved, have no "real camera" and yeah, but just wanted to share anyways for those who wanna enjoy it anyways :)

Also for those interested in another type cuban polenta type dish check out my post for "Harina de Maiz Con Pata de Cangrejo" (Cuban Polenta with Crab legs) by clicking the link below


Ivonne said...

Looks delicious Nathan. I have been avoiding the kitchen, major heat wave here, just making salads and sandwiches or ordering out.

Patricio said...

That looks so delicious! I wish I could come round and help you eat it! great stuff!

Patricio el Top Dating muchacho.

Mamey said...

Yeah, it's too bad few Cuban restaurants make Cuban polenta dishes. And you did the right thing...cut down on the acidity.

Nathan said...

Gracias :) yeah I get you it's been hot to be in the kitchen but I just still cook lol. habits die hard lol. I love alot of the cold Mexican ceviches, and salads for summer. But always crave my stews and sauces to eat with rice lol.

Thanks :)

Living in Southern California I've gotten used to making all my Cuban food from scratch we just have no choice, well Portos n stuff is awesome, but when it comes to actual dinner/ meals no restaurant can make it as good as the home cooks/ us :) (although I must admit Versailles has a reallly really really good Garlic Chicken, mines good but there's is pretty special, very moist chicken, crispy skin, wonderful sauce, and their frijoles negros are as good as anyone's)

Sara Kay said...

Just found your blog! Love all the traditional recipes, made WITH the fat. :) Was looking for a REALLY GOOD shredded chicken recipe made with a whole chicken. Do you have one?

Nathan said...

Sara Kay,
Thanks for the visit :) for any shredded chicken recipe I tend to boil the whole chicken (of course well cleaned, sometimes skinned) I boil it with 1/2 onion, 2 garlic cloves, black pepper corns, bay leaves, chicken bouillon, and salt to taste. You end up with a wonderful stock, and can use it in any recipe.

I like to make a Cuban dish called "Vaca Frita de Pollo" it's shredded chicken marinaded in citrus and garlic, then fried with onions.

Also I like making "Ropa Vieja" which is usually made with beef btu substitute shredded chicken for the beef

And one of my summer favorites that you will love but is messy to eat is "Tostadas de Pollo" (Chicken TOstadas)

Hope you like these :)

Sara Kay said...

Awesome, thanks! Made the ropa vieja tonight and it was exactly what I was looking for! Turned out delicious!! Linked to you from my new blog. :)

Anonymous said...

Good stuff man , in nc its hard to get real good cuban food , so i cook it myself and man nothing like ropa veija,try using corened beef ,boil just like you would briskit , its almost like tasajo

Unknown said...

You just gave me another good recipe from my childhood. I could not for the life of me remember the recipe but I remember eatting it. Basically it was the inside of a tamale made in a pot without the husk. My Abuela made it with pork or alot of time shrimp. Thank You Thank you.