I made a horrible, lean, watery cabbage soup that I had to feed to the chickens because it was so bad. I had trusted the cookbook author and followed the recipe exactly. Big mistake, but here is the antidote. Chicken, beef, AND pork! It's rich and satisfying. It won't leave you wondering if times are really so desperate after all, and it serves 12. So make it for a big group, or make it once and freeze the rest for future dinners when you need something instant. You need an ENORMOUS pot.
This recipe calls for yuca, or cassava. You can usually find it in a Latin grocery store, and sometimes already peeled in the frozen section. It has a nice gummy texture; I believe tapioca is made from yuca. The preparation is simple. Peel it, cut it into manageable 2" sections, and remove the tough cord that grows down the center since it's impossible to chew. It wasn't until later that I read somewhere that it's poisonous before you cook it. It would have been nice to know earlier, but I was never tempted to pop the woody tuber in my mouth anyway. Here is a complete step-by-step tutorial on how to prepare yuca for cooking if you feel like you need it.
The tomato sauce that seasons the whole dish is so good I will at least double it next time. It would be so good over eggs or spooned onto just about anything. This recipe is from Saveur, and they based it on a recipe from Secrets of Colombian Cooking by Patricia McCausland-Gallo.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large tomato
3/4 cup chopped scallions
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon saffron
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
1 whole chicken
1-1/2 pounds pork spareribs, separated
1 pound beef brisket or stew meat
a few springs of cilantro
1 tablespoon salt
4 cloves garlic
2 pounds cassava, peeled and cut into 2" pieces
2 pounds of potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 head of cabbage, thinly sliced
3 avocados sliced for serving
white rice to serve along with the soup
I compromised everything I believe in and bought conventionally grown red bell peppers at the farmer's market. They were 4 for a dollar, and I guess if the price is right...
I've read about massa de pimentão, a Portuguese paste used to marinate meats, but I've only made my own, so I can't tell you how much this resembles the original. I've tried this with chicken and pork, and while both were good, the pork was mouthwateringly delicious. Once the meat is tender, you finish cooking it on a bed of potatoes that absorb the juices from the bell pepper sauce and the meat. It's very simple, and very good. In fact, it only uses 5 ingredients: spareribs, bell peppers, potatoes, salt, and pepper.
So when bell peppers are seasonal and cheap, buy a lot of them and make enough of this paste to freeze for later. It's incredibly simple, but it is something you have to do ahead of time. This is a wonderful, warming winter dish but the bell pepper paste gives it a bright note.
I followed the recipe (more or less) from Saveur. There were a few things I changed slightly- I cut the recipe in half, used less salt because 1/2 inch of salt between layers of bell pepper really seemed excessive, and I couldn't get the same cut of ribs. It didn't matter! I peel bell peppers because the skin is so hard to digest and these weren't organic, so I'm hoping this cut down on the pesticide residue.
Bell Pepper Paste (Massa de Pimentao)
For the Red Sauce:
8 bell peppers, peeled and sliced
Layer the bell pepper strips in a strainer with plenty of salt. Put the strainer in a bowl, cover it with a plate, and weigh it down. You can put it in the refrigerator and leave it for a couple days or leave it out on the kitchen counter overnight.
Take out the bell pepper and wipe off as much of the salt as you can. Blend it in a food processor and freeze or refrigerate.
Braised Spareribs with Potatoes (Entrecosto no Forno con Batatas)
1-1/2 to 2 cups Bell Pepper Paste
3 pounds spareribs
about 1-1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced
freshly ground pepper
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!