Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My version of Chorizos al Vinagre -- Longganisang Lucban in Coco Cider Vinegar

There were some dishes that I enjoyed in Spain that I instantly knew could be adapted using very  Pinoy ingredients.

One of the best things I ate along the Camino was Chorizos al Vinagre -- served in a charming albergue in the tiny village of Mercadoiro.  The tartness of the sauce, the plump and juicy chorizos plus the large chunks of fresh crusty bread made for a light and refreshing lunch.
I was still munching on my  Chorizos al Vinagre when I knew that a local longganisa could be used in the exact same way.  I have always thought that among all our local sausages, longganisang lucban is the closest to  Spanish chorizo.  Aside from that red colour -- which comes from paprika for chorizos and (sadly) red food colouring  for longganisang lucban, these sausages share some flavour profiles -- both are garlicky, spicy and also slightly tart.

Because Jay is in Lucban every week, I have a steady supply of longganisa in my freezer.  I also had a bottle of Coco Cider Vinegar.   Longganisa from Lucban and coco cider vinegar make this a truly "Quezonian" dish!

The one thing that bothers me about longganisang lucban is the intense red food colouring which leaches out when cooking. For this dish though, it gave the sauce the same shade that the chorizos al vinagre had.   I'm glad I used the "jumbo" sized longganisa,  the regular ones would have been too "bite-sized" and would probably have disintegrated.
Longganisang lucban in coco cider vinegar is a tasty addition to your breakfast table and a new and delicious way to enjoy this uniquely Lucban specialty.  The longganisa absorbs the appetising taste
of the coco vinegar sauce  and yes, tastes great spooned on your fried garlic rice!

Here's how I made Longganisang Lucban in Coco Cider Vinegar!


One dozen jumbo sized longganisa
About one cup of coco cider vinegar or to taste (I would not use commercial white vinegar as this would give you a very sour and acidic taste)
Garlic and some fresh rosemary leaves
Salt and pepper
One tsp of sugar

How to Cook

Snip off the ends of the longganisa, you don't want to eat those tiny pieces of string!
Pour the coco cider vinegar into pan and let boil over medium heat;
Lower heat to simmer and put longganisa in pan.  Let simmer and prick with fork to
ensure longganisa  absorbs the sauce and cooks evenly.
Add salt and pepper to taste plus 1 tsp sugar;
Remove vinegar sauce and set aside.  Remove longganisa from pan.
In the same pan,  add a little oil and sauté garlic.  Add the longganisa and fry till well done.
Pour as much of the reserved vinegar sauce as you like, simmer for a while and it's done!
Serve hot with fried rice.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Spanish Beef Stew al Vino Tinto

Traipsing and eating my way through Spain  inspired me to try and re-create some of the more memorable dishes that I enjoyed.  Thanks to generous cooks sharing their recipes online, wonderful cooking apps like Epicurious, Cooking by the New York Times and of course the good old reliable Spanish cookbooks long lingering on my bookshelves, I have now been spending more time in the kitchen.

In popular Restaurante Ojeda in Burgos I tasted a very tender and hearty beef stew called Carrilleras de Vaca al Vino Tinto or Beef Cheeks in Red Wine.  The beef cheeks were sliced and cooked in a robust and lusty red wine sauce.  

I ordered the same dish in  Barcelo Hotel in Bilbao where they served the beef cheeks whole and not sliced with a thick rich  sauce that had been much reduced  -- both versions were equally delicious and seemed easy enough to re-create.

Once I got home, I looked up the recipe for Carrilleras de Vaca al Vino Tinto.  At my local Monterey store I was told they did not carry beef cheeks and if I wanted any, I would have to place an order -- and they were still not sure if they could get me any.  Next time, I'll try the wet market where a butcher may have some beef cheeks.
Just for this first time, I settled for a cut frequently used in stews like beef shank or kalitiran.
Shank is nicely marbled with tendons and beef fat and works best in slow cooked  dishes where the tendons melt and break down and thus add to the overall appetising taste.

To help cut some of the "heaviness" of beef,  I used fresh rosemary.  You also need whole garlic cloves, onions and good extra virgin olive oil.

Sauté the garlic and sliced onions and add the sliced beef.  Cook till browned.

Add one whole bottle of red wine, the rosemary sprigs and one bay leaf.  Cover and let simmer until
meat is fork tender -- my one kilo of beef took about 3 hours to cook to my desired doneness.

At the very last minute, I added olives to my stew.  Fried potato wedges go well on the side.
I used Spanish wine but some of the recipes I read also called for some brandy or sherry in addition to the wine.  My version of Beef Stew in Red Wine sauce was much appreciated at the dinner table.
We enjoyed it with slices of a crusty baguette but it also tastes just as yummy eaten with hot rice!

Here's how I made my Pinoy version of this Spanish Beef Stew:


1 kilo beef kalitiran or any other cut good for stewing
1 bottle of red wine
Garlic, onions, bay leaf, rosemary
Extra virgin olive oil
Stuffed olives

How to cook

Slice beef into thick cuts.
Saute garlic and onions till translucent.
Add beef and fry till golden brown.  Season with salt and pepper.
Add one bottle of red wine and let simmer until slightly reduced.
Midway into cooking, add beef broth, one cup at the start and more as needed,  depending on how
thin or thick you want your sauce to be.
Just before you take the stew off the stove, add some olives if desired.
Serve warm with a baguette or sourdough bread.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Ham and Bean Stew

One of the dishes I enjoyed a lot in Spain was a bean stew -- which was surprising to me since beans are not exactly high up on my favourite food list.  

But this dish called Judiones de la Granja that I had at El Soportal in Pedraza de la Sierra was an eye opener and totally made me look at beans in a new light.  
This savoury stew is made with large white beans called judiones that originally come from Segovia.  Nowadays I suppose they're grown everywhere in Spain.  Since Pedraza de la Sierra is part of Segovia, it was understandable that this dish was offered as a primero plato or appetiser.
It was such a simple dish but oh so rich and scrumptious --  the judiones were tender and creamy, 
the sauce  had a deep smoky and meaty flavour  -- I was sure it was made with drippings from the cochinillo that El Soportal is famous for.

 I had hoped to bring home a pound or two of judiones but did not get around to it.  So when I wanted to try and make my own bean stew at home, I had to use what is readily available -- dried white kidney beans.

Since I did not have any lavish pork drippings to flavour my stew, I resorted to salty-sweetish Majestic Ham.  I was worried that it would transform my attempt at a Spanish bean stew to a chinese bean dish but I needn't have worried.  It added that smoky ham taste that livened up the kidney beans. I would have wanted a more saucy dish but this was not at all bad for a first try.  Served with toasted melba rounds, it was a delicious one dish meal.

Here's how to make this ham and bean stew:

Dried white kidney beans
Majestic Ham,  chopped -- get the scraps or bits, cheaper and just as much flavour
Garlic,  onions, tomatoes
Chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Bay leaf

How to cook
Soak the beans in cold water for at least 8 hours.  Drain and set aside.
Saute garlic, onions and tomatoes.
Add the ham bits and render whatever ham fat there is, for richer flavour.
Add beans and cook together.
Then, add the stock, enough to cover the beans.  Add one bay leaf.
Simmer on low heat for about 2.5 to 3 hours or until beans are tender and stock is reduced
and slightly thickened.

Serve hot with rice or melba toast, for a lighter meal.

This keeps well and tastes even better when reheated.