Monday, February 23, 2009

Jamaican Jerk Porkchops

"Jerk" does not refer to the one cooking but to the jerk spice mix from Jamaica.  "Jerk" in this case comes from the Quechua charqui, which means dried meat and is the origin of the word "jerky", that staple of, er, people who can probably relate to Larry the Cable Guy.  Jerk spices, whose main ingredients are ground allspice and chilli powder, are used to cure dried meat and as a dry rub for barbecues.


pork chops, butterfly cut
Jamaican jerk spice mix*
red bell peppers
soy sauce (optional)
Worcestershire sauce (optional)
vegetable oil (optional)

1.  Rub the spice mix on both sides of the pork chops.  For more flavour, marinate the meat in some soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce before rubbing in the spice mix.

2.  Slice the bell peppers and lay them on the pork chop so they cover half of the area; fold over the pork chop (hence, the use of the butterfly cut).  You will have some pork chop "sandwiches" with bell pepper and spices in the middle.

3.  Grill until well done; better to use a contact grill so that you will blacken the pork chop.  For more flavour and added moisture, drizzle some oil on the pork prior to grilling.  Take care not to overcook them, lest they dry out.

Serve with steamed rice and a side of salad.


* Most important elements are equal parts allspice and chilli powder (e.g., cayenne pepper).  You may also add other dried herbs and spices such as black pepper, paprika, thyme, garlic, onion, ginger, or cinnamon.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Estofado de San Miguel

Spanish-style pork stew with chorizos, potatoes, and three kinds of chiles (bell peppers, dried arbol chiles, and paprika), cooked in San Miguel beer.  I just made this up, but I'm sure there's a traditional recipe just like this somewhere in Spain.  Gave me a chance to use one of the Tefal stew pots we got for our wedding (thanks, Law friends).


1/2 kilo pork, cubed (adobo cut)
2 long links Spanish chorizos (raw, not dried), sliced into chunks
1/3 kilo potatoes, cubed
3-5 bell peppers (depending on size), chopped
1 bottle San Miguel beer
1 garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3-5 dried chile pods (dried chile flakes could also be used)
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup canola or olive oil
coarsely ground black peppercorns
fennel seeds
laurel leaves

1.  Heat up the cooking oil in a stew pot and fry the dried chiles, ground peppercorns, laurel leaves, and fennel seeds until you start to smell them.  Add garlic and onion until they start to brown.

2.  Add chorizos; this will cool down the pot so wait for the temperature to go back up.  Fry chorizos until lightly cooked and oil turns red; add bell peppers.  If you have time, it would be good to roast then peel the bell peppers prior to cooking.

3.  Add pork and cook until lightly brown or at least until the pork loses its raw colour.

4.  Add potatoes and paprika.  Bring the pot temperature back up and make sure potatoes are well coated with oil.

5.  Pour in vinegar and beer, making sure there is enough liquid to cover the pork, etc.  Quickly bring pot to a boil then bring it down to a simmer.  Cover pot.

6.  Let the stew simmer for about an hour or until most of the liquid has reduced and you are left with a reddish sauce.

Serve with steamed rice and some greens.

This dish is very amenable to reheating as the flavours become stronger after time in the ref; best to reheat in a broiler so you get some crusty bits. I learned to make these kinds of dishes during my severely budget-constrained MA days, but back then I'd put a lot more potatoes than pork to extend the number of servings.  After the pork has gone the tasty potatoes and sauce can be turned into an instant Spanish omelette.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday Lunch

Sundays are a great day to stay in and cook, free from the busy hours of weekdays and the errands of Saturdays.  I usually set aside Sundays to make slow-cooking stews that we'll eat the rest of the week, sometimes in different reincarnations.  This Sunday, however, my Dear prepared for us a Filipino-Korean lunch, which, unholy as it sounds, actually worked.  I helped, of course, though it felt new to me to be relegated to prepping in what used to be my own kitchen.

For the Korean part, we had a side dish of sukjunamul (숙주나물), which is basically blanched mung bean sprouts seasoned with minced garlic, sesame oil, ground black pepper, vinegar, and soy sauce.  We put in a tad too much garlic on this one, resulting in a pretty pungent sukjunamul which I liked but my Dear found quite overpowering.

The main course was boiled-then-fried Tuguegarao longganisa, named after the capital city of Cagayan Province.  Compared to the more famous Vigan longganisa, the Tuguegarao longganisa has bigger links, a more yellow colour (thanks to atsuete), and a milder garlic taste.  To serve, they are first boiled in water to fully cook the sausage and render the fat; the links are pricked so they won't burst.  After the water has evaporated you are left with sausage links frying in their own fat, which then browns the longganisas.  

After cooking, we ate the sukjunamul and longganisa with steamed brown rice.  Although both dishes were strongly garlicky, they presented the ingredient differently-- raw and pungent on the sukjunamul while sweet and mild in the longganisa.  The fresh taste of the bean sprouts also complemented the fatty richness of the pork sausage.  For dessert we had some fresh
lakatan bananas, all washed down with senna leaf tea.