Archive for the ‘Pork’ Category

Even though we don’t have any Irish heritage in our family (as far as I know), St. Patrick’s Day is kind of a big deal here in the US, so my daughter asked if we were going to do something to celebrate it. I actually find it quite fun – there’s a St. Patrick’s Day street race which I’ve been many times, there’s green everywhere, and there’s beer (sometimes green too). And since my kids still like Dr. Seuss’ books (including “Green Eggs and Ham”), I tried to mix those together as the dinner theme… And I’ll definitely need to improve my presentation skills for this one.

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I imagined it would be quite easy to do that – while cooking the eggs, drop some food coloring on the yolk and that would be it. Well, not as easy. The drops started falling off the yolk into the whites, and trying to do “bring them back up” only caused one of the yolks to break… The ham steak wasn’t as hard, although the color wasn’t as uniform as I’d like. The kids actually liked it, though, so I’ll likely try it again next year, this time trying something different to make the picture as it is below (minus Sam-I-Am).

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Ingredients (for 2 people):

  • 1 large ham steak
  • 2 eggs
  • green food coloring
  • 1/2 tbsp. butter

Prepare the eggs: in a large non-stick pan, melt the butter and add the eggs at least 1” apart (so they don’t mix). Cover with a lid and wait for about 30-60 seconds, until the yolk starts hardening. Carefully drop some green food coloring on the yolks, and, using a brush, very lightly bring the drops up as the gravity brings them toward the white. When they’re done enough, remove and reserve.

In the same pan, add the ham steak and drop some more food coloring on it, brushing it on its surface. Cook it for 3 minutes on one side, then turn it and add some more drops of the coloring.

Enjoy!

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And as usual I’m back to my favorite Brazilian food book series, “Cozinha Regional Brasileira” (Brazilian Regional Cuisine) this time to the book about food from Paraíba, a state which borders where I grew up (Pernambuco). This is a recipe for pork tenderloin marinated with cachaça (a Brazilian spirit made from sugar cane, which can now be found in many stores in the US) and “mel de engenho” (molasses). Since the beginning of the colonization of Brazil brought many sugar mills (“engenhos”) to that region in the mid 1500’s, sugar and sugar-derived foods have been a part of the local culinary for many years now.

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This recipe had many ingredients which I like – pork, cachaça, and a combination of savory and sweet flavors which go really well with pork. The citric fruits (pineapple, orange and limes) combined greatly with the meat, and this turned out to be one of the best recipes I’ve tried in a long time, and will certainly be repeated in the future. It is also fairly easy to make, although it needs a long prep time.

Ingredients (for 6 people)

  • About 3lb. pork tenderloins, fat trimmed
  • 2/3 cup cachaça (I used one which I had from the state of Paraíba, to add to the authenticity, but since it was used in a marinade, any decent brand would work)
  • 2 tbsp. molasses
  • 1 orange, sliced in 1/4” circles
  • 1 lime, sliced in 1/4” circles
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 15 whole cloves (the recipe asked for ~1tsp. ground cloves, but since I only had the whole cloves, I used them and it didn’t cause any problems)
  • salt
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 1/2 pineapple (lengthwise), cut in 1/2” slices
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. butter

The day before: store the tenderloins with the cachaça, molasses, sliced orange / lime and some salt in a closed Ziploc bag (or any recipient to hold the marinade, but remember to cover it with plastic film – the bag was the easiest thing I could find). Every 6 hours or so, shake the bag (or turn the tenderloins in the recipient) for the marinade to act over the meat evenly.

On a large pan, heat the oil and the butter. Remove the tenderloins from the marinade (don’t discard the marinade), and fry each side of them in the pan, until it starts browning. Strain the rest of the marinade into the pan, and add the orange juice. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for about 1.5 hours, turning the tenderloins a few times throughout the cooking.

On a non-stick pan lightly buttered, fry the pineapple slices (both sides) then serve them with the pork, drizzling the sauce from the pan over it. Serve it with white rice, farofa de cuscuz and “feijão de corda” (black-eyed peas, recipe to come soon).

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Enjoy!

Virado à paulista

Posted: February 16, 2012 in Brazilian, Food, Main course, Pork
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After a few months dabbing in international cuisine, I decided to go back to my favorite food collection, “Cozinha Regional Brasileira” (Brazilian Regional Cuisine, http://www.abrilcolecoes.com.br/colecoes/cozinha-regional-brasileira-486777.shtml), to try another one of the typical dishes from around Brazil. This time I chose one which is from the state of São Paulo, called “virado à paulista” (really hard to translate into English, it would be something like “food turned in the Paulista style”, paulista being the adjective from someone from that state). Never having tried the original, I also invited some good friends from that state to assess whether it was close to the “real thing”, so we have their impressions as well.

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First of all, this is not a very complicated or fancy dish. Far from that, the “virado” is a common lunch fare in that state, often served as a cheap lunch in many downtown restaurants for a blue-collar workers, but it has reached a “cultural” status that it’s appreciated by people from all income levels.

There are a few variations of the “virado”, but they all have some meat (pork or beef), white rice, “tutu de feijão” – beans mixed with “farinha” (dried, toasted manioc flour), “couve mineira” (thinly sliced collard greens fried with bacon and garlic), “calabresa” sausage (typical in Brazil) and banana. The banana can be of the regular kind, or one similar to plaintains, also raw or fried (breaded). Sometimes it’s also served with an egg on top. The one I made I used pork chops and a kielbasa in place of the calabresa, used plain bananas and skipped the egg (there was already a lot of food in the plate, the egg would have been too much).

Based on the “natives” opinion, it was quite close to the original, but the beans should have been cooked a little more. Since that was their only remark, I took that as a sign that the dish came out good 🙂

Ingredients (for 4 people):

  • 4 pork chops, bone in (~2lb)
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • salt & pepper
  • 6oz bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1lb kielbasa, cut diagonally in 1/4”-thick strips
  • 3 cups cooked beans, with the liquid
  • 1/2 cup “farinha”
  • 2 bunches of collard greens

Prior to cooking: remove the stems from the collards and cut them into thin strips, then reserve. Season the pork with the lime, salt and pepper, and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.

In a large pan, add the sausage slices and cook them both sides until they’re golden, about 3 each side, then reserve. If the sausage didn’t render a lot of fat, add a tbsp. of olive oil. Add the pork chops, then fry them until they’re close to the desired doneness, but not there, then move them to an oven pre-heated to 350ºF (175ºC) to finish in 10-15 minutes. In the same pan, add 4oz of the bacon, cooking them until the fat has been rendered. Add the collard greens (you’ll need a large pan, because it will be a lot, but they’ll shrink considerably) and salt, mixing it often while the beans are being prepared. When the greens are done, if you want to fry the banana, you can use the same pan to do so at that point.

For the “tutu”: while the bacon is being rendered in the large pan, add the remaining of the bacon and the 1 tbsp. of olive oil to a medium pan; when most of the bacon fat has been rendered, add the onions and the garlic, and cook until the onion is golden. Add the beans and cook for 10 minutes, mixing it occasionally. Add the “farinha” very slowly to prevent lumps from forming, mixing it well. Cook it for another 5 minutes, still mixing it often.

To assemble the plate, put some white rice, beans and a pork chop in each plate, then top the rest with the sausage, bananas and the collards. If you still want a little more cholesterol, feel free to top it off with a sunny-side up egg.

Enjoy!

Cozido (Stew)

Posted: April 10, 2011 in Beef, Brazilian, Food, Pork
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Source: Family recipe. I used to eat it a lot in my grandmother’s house.

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History: In my home state, there are a few kinds of stew, but one of them doesn’t need any qualification, it’s simply “stew”. It’s typically made with lots of meat (smoked and cured with salt), and lots of vegetables. Like the “peixada” I wrote about before, it’s hard not to make a lot of it, so it’s usually done for many people (I actually found a recipe for it on the Brazilian Regional Cuisine book series, and it was listed for 20 people). It’s also served with the “pirão”, a creamy side dish made with the liquid from the cooking and toasted, ground yucca flour (“farinha”).

Variation from the original: It’s hard to find salted meats around here, so I had to overload on the smoked ones (a lot more sausage than before). Also, the kinds of sausages which were used in my grandma’s house couldn’t be found here, so I had to improvise with whatever I could find in the supermarket. Also, I couldn’t find all vegetables from the original. Some substitutions worked out fine (added sweet potato, acorn squash instead of pumpkin), others didn’t (the plantains didn’t come out anything like the large cooking bananas we used in Brazil). I also missed the collard greens (I even bought it, but forgot to add them at the end).

Ingredients from specialty stores: “farinha” (toasted ground yucca root) from a Brazilian store. Thick-cut beef shank from a local butcher. Everything else was found in my local supermarket.

Ingredients:

  • 2 thick-cut (~2”) beef shank cuts, bone in (~4.5 lb)
  • 3 lb. stewing meat (I used cross rib roast), whole roast
  • 2 lb. smoked sausage, cut in ~2” pieces
  • 1 lb. smoked pork chops, cut in 1” strips
  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 medium onion, peeled, whole
  • 1 head of cabbage, quartered
  • 1 chayote squash, quartered, seeds removed
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled, cut in 1-2” pieces
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled, halved
  • 1 acorn squash, quartered, seeds removed
  • 3 ears of corn, cleaned, cut in half
  • 1 plantain (I used a green one, it didn’t turn out good at all, next time I’ll try to find a ripe one)
  • 1 cup “farinha”
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • limes (for squeezing top of the food at the table)

Almost everything will go in a single pot, so you need a really large one. The shank takes a long, long, long time to cook (at least 4 hours in a normal pan), so plan to start early. Season all sides with salt and pepper, then lightly brown it on a frying pan coated with oil. Then put it in the large pot and cover with water. Season the stewing meat with salt & pepper, lightly brown it and dump it in the pan. Do the same with the sausages (frying pan, then large pot). Everything needs to be covered with water, add more if necessary.

Now start the vegetables. The meat will cook for a long time, so the vegetables will likely be done before the meat is tender, so you can either add / remove the vegetables as they cook, or try to time adding them at the right time. The order of them is approximately the following: carrots / cabbage / onion (done after 1h-1.5h), chayote / sweet potato / pumpkin / corn (done after 30’-1h), potatoes / plantains (done in less than 30’), collards (done in about 15’). I already did both ways, but I find that adding / removing the vegetables is easier to control their doneness – by the end either heat them up quickly in the oven or bring them back to the pan for a few minutes.

The meat will be done when it can be pulled easily with a fork. Last time I took the shanks before they were good (I started late, didn’t give it enough time to get tender), and they were quite rough, but I later put them back in the pan and cooked them for another 3h, and by dinner time they were fantastic. The same with the stewing meat (again, started late).

When everything is almost ready, strain some of the cooking liquid into a separate pan to make the “pirão” – with the pan over medium heat, stirring constantly, slowly pour the “farinha” until it starts to thicken.

For serving, I like to arrange the vegetables and the meats in different serving dishes to make it easier for people to choose. Then serve them with rice and the “pirão”.

Enjoy!