Saturday, March 25, 2017

HUNGRYMAN'S SPECIAL STUFFED CHOPS

I have a friend whose mother passed on; and while he was packing up her possessions, he came across a small, pocket cookbook, more like a pamphlet with, the title, Pork for Two. He gave the book to me, and I found it fascinating. The book, I think is from the 1950s (it has no copyright date). It was published by the National Pork Producers Council (Des Moines, Iowa), and is a compendium of pork dishes popular to that era. It has such gems as "Basic Frozen Pork Mixture" and "Fruit Glazed Butterfly Pork Chops."   

A recipe from the book that intrigued me is "Hungryman's Special Stuffed Chops." Admittedly, I don't have that much experience with stuffed pork chops. I've done stuffed fish, lamb, fowl, even steaks. But never chops. So, I figured, Give it a try. And the end product is delicious. Note that the booklet is geared toward two servings; but the recipe can be doubled, if desired. Also, the ingredients call for double-rib pork chops but, as I discovered, boneless loin chops are just as good. Another thing to note is that it includes canned mushrooms. You can use fresh button mushrooms; it works just as well.

       HUNGRYMAN'S SPECIAL STUFFED CHOPS

2 double-rib pork chops, cut 2-1/2 to 3-inches thick
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 can (3 ounces) chopped mushrooms, drained
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup herb seasoned stuffing
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth

Cut a pocket in each chop by cutting into center of chop from rib side, parallel to the bone and surface of chop. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper. In a medium skillet, melt butter. Cook onion in melted butter over moderate heat till onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in mushrooms, stuffing, and 2 tablespoons wine. Stuff half the stuffing mixture into each chop. Pour 1/2 cup wine and broth over chops. Bake, covered, in a 350° F. oven till chops are done, about 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours. Makes 2 servings.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

GINGER STEAMED FISH

Once in a while, as a break from broiled, backed, or fried fish, steamed fish is the go-to dish. Simple to prepare, and quite healthy. I've discovered that, with an Asian flair, it does the trick. A little soy sauce, a little fresh ginger and you've got yourself a marvelous meal. The recipe given below follows this trend. For a dish such as this, rice is the usual accompaniment. This time around I served it with soba (or buckwheat) noodles; but you can use whatever pasta, or grain, desired. The fancy-dan foodies called it fusion cooking.

Note that it's best to cook the noodles while fish is steaming (and ginger sauce is being prepared) and combine everything at the end.

GINGER STEAMED FISH

4 cod, halibut, striped bass (or any flaky white fish) steaks or fillets, 4 to 6 oz.  each
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 cup sesame seeds
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 scallions, sliced, for garnish
12 ounces soba/buckwheat noodles, cooked according to package directions

1. Bring about 2 inches of water to a boil in a regular or bamboo steamer. If you don't have a steamer, set four mugs upside down in a large pot, add water, and place a large heatproof dish on top. Place four portions of fish on plate or steamer, cover and bring water to a boil. Steam fish until tender (about 5-6 minutes per inch of fish).
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine ginger, garlic and sesame seeds. Heat oil in a medium skillet over high heat. Add ginger mixture and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add sesame oil and soy sauce and cook 1 minute more.
3. Place noodles on a serving platter. Add fish on top; and pour sauce over fish and noodles. Garnish with scallions and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings.  

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

POLLO GUISADO (Stewed Chicken)

My father called this dish the poor person's banquet. It is similar to that popular Italian entrée, chicken cacciatore, but with a Puerto Rican boricua slant. What I like about this recipe is that the ingredients can be added or changed to suit the circumstances or the pocket book. If desired, roasted red peppers can be substituted for green bell peppers (pimento). You can add peas. mushrooms or almost any other vegetable you have on hand. Or keep it simple. Some folks prefer to remove the skin from the chicken before cooking. Others like to retain the skin since it renders a richer flavor. It's all a matter of individual taste.

In the island of Puerto Rico, for this dish, the accompaniment is rice and beans. Back in Spanish Harlem, when I was growing up, in our family we paired this dish with macaroni. For some reason, my father loved it with tubular pasta like macaroni or rigatoni. It was our thing. Actually, you can serve this recipe with whatever you want---be it potatoes, pasta, quinoa, couscous, or kasha. It's that versatile. 

The dish calls for sofrito, that popular base condiment used in our cooking. My prior post (Biftec Estofado - 03/04/17) has a quickie way to prepare sofrito. Refer to that and you won't have any problems whipping it up. And, as noted in that post, under no circumstance get the store-bought variety---it's chemicalized crap.

POLLO GUISADO
  (Stewed Chicken)

1 medium stewing chicken, about 2 1/2 pounds, cut into serving pieces
2 cloves garlic, peeled
8 whole peppercorns
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs fresh parsley
2 medium Idaho or Maine potatoes, halved and quartered
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sofrito
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
8 pitted black olives, rinsed in cold water and halved
1/2 medium green bell pepper, cut into strips

1. Rinse chicken pieces under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
2. Put the garlic, peppercorns, salt and oregano into a mortar and pound until crushed. Rub this seasoning thoroughly into the chicken pieces.
3. In a large pot or casserole (a Dutch oven is great for this), place the chicken pieces along with the bay leaf and parsley sprigs. Add water to cover chicken pieces. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium. Cover and simmer until chicken pieces are tender (about 20 minutes).
4. Add potatoes, onion slices, sofrito, tomato sauce and olives. Stir and combine.
5. Cook, covered, until potatoes are tender and sauce has thickened somewhat (about 1/2 hour). Garnish with bell peppers.
    Yield: 4 servings.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

BIFTEC ESTOFADO

This is a simple, no frills way to prepare beefsteak; and it comes from my cookbook Puerto Rican Cuisine in America (Perseus Books). The recipe calls for traditional spices and onions and not much else. However, it's ingredients include sofrito and aji dulce, or sweet chili peppers. Sweet chili peppers can be found in any Caribbean or Asian market. Sofrito is a base seasoning used for countless dishes in our cooking. A good recipe for sofrito can be found in my post of 11/08/10. Or you can also access the video version (11/23/15) which gives you a step by step method of making the condiment. If for some reason you don't have the time or inclination to research the thing, a quick method is thus---in a blender or food processor, puree until smooth: 1/4 cup chopped cilantro; 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped; 2 clove garlic, crushed; 1/4 pound sweet chili peppers; and 1/4 cup parsley. That's it. You can store any leftovers in the fridge for 3-4 days or indefinitely in the freezer compartment. One last caveat: under no circumstances buy the processed, bottled sofrito you find in the supermarket. It's chemicalized crap.

The dish is called 'smothered steak" because, traditionally, the beef is topped, or smothered, with onions. It also calls for steaming the meat as it cooks in the pot. A good cut of beef is called for this preparation (we user sirloin or top round). We would not recommend boneless chuck. The usual accompaniment to the beef chunks is rice or boiled potatoes.

BIFTEC ESTOFADO
  (Smothered Steak)

2 pounds beef sirloin or round steak, trimmed of all fat and cut into 1-inch chunks
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/2 medium green bell pepper, seeded, cored and chopped
2 aji dulce (sweet chili peppers), chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
Dash of sage
Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon sofrito
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced

1. Wash meat and pat dry with paper towels. Place meat in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, add bell pepper, sweet chili, garlic and sage. Mix well and sprinkle with lemon juice. Cover and marinate for 15-20 minutes.
2. Heat oil on medium flame in a large skillet or heavy frying pan and sear meat on both sides. Add marinade ingredients, water, sofrito, and onion slices. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes or until meat is tender.
Note: If desired, the onion slices can be stir-fried in a little oil and arranged over the beef when it's done. It works either way,
    Yield: 4 servings.