Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cuban-esque Spicy Pork Stew with Arroz con Gandules

(The finished dish)

It is yet another rainy, cold, dreary day in New Jersey today – the northeast is getting battered with yet more rainstorms.  I was craving some serious comfort food but something different, tasty and yet not full of the typical culinary badness that most serious comfort food has to make it comforting.
I did some research and found a few recipes for a Cuban style pork stew.  A typical "Guiso de Carne de Puerco"/ "Fricasse de Puerco" has as many variations as does any culture’s basic meat stew so I took a few elements from a number of recipes and came up with my own variation.
I like to serve it with Arroz con Gandules (which I know is a traditional Puerto Rican dish)
Time-saving tips:  I cook the dish in my electric skillet and make the rice in my rice cooker.
Cuban-esque Spicy Pork Stew with Arroz con Gandules
2 large pork tenderloins, cubed (about 3 lbs)
2 onions, sliced
3 bell peppers (I used red and yellow) chopped roughly
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 cans (14.5 oz) of diced tomatoes with zesty jalapenos
1 jar of Goya Alcaparrado (a mixture of olives, capers and pimentos) drained
1 tablespoon of dried cumin
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of hot paprika
1 tablespoon or red pepper flakes
1 cup of red vermouth (or sherry)
1 cup of chicken stock, low sodium, fat-free
1 cup of beef stock, low sodium, fat-free
Zest of 1 cara orange (any orange is fine – cara is a type of navel orange)
Juice of 2 cara oranges (any orange is fine – cara is a type of navel orange)
Juice of 1 lime
1 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
3 tablespoons cornstarch
½ cup marsala or sherry
1.       Season pork liberally with salt and pepper.
2.      Brown quickly in a bit of olive oil until no longer pink – but not cooked through.  It should be quite raw.  Remove from pan and set aside.
3.       Add onions, peppers, garlic, sweet potatoes and sauté for a few minutes until fragrant.
4.      Add tomatoes, Alcaparrado, spices, vermouth and stock and bring to a simmer.
5.      Add the zest of one orange and the juice of one orange to the pan and cover.  Cook until sweet potatoes are almost cooked through about 10 minutes.
6.      Meanwhile, squeeze the juice of one lime and the juice of one orange over the pork and set aside.
7.      Once sweet potatoes are almost done, add pork to the pan and top with chopped cilantro.
8.      Simmer for about 20 minutes until the pork is cooked through.
9.      Serve as is over rice or thicken the sauce slightly if desired.
To thicken sauce, bring stew to a boil and add in 3 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed in some marsala or sherry.  Cook a few minutes until thickened and then serve with rice.
(Arroz con Gandules in the rice cooker)

GOYA Arroz con Gandules
I use my rice cooker for this and it works fine – but traditionally it is done on the stovetop.
If using a rice cooker – just put everything in the pot and turn it on – done!
1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ lb. country ham, cubed (I omitted the ham when I made it with this dish)
½ red bell pepper, chopped (about ½ cup)
½ yellow onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
2 packets Sazón GOYA with Coriander and Annatto
1 tbsp. Minced Garlic
2 cups rice (I prefer and used Japanese short grain but medium grain is traditional)
1 can (15 oz.) GOYA Green Pigeon Peas
4 oz. GOYA Tomato Sauce
Heat oil in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add ham to pan; cook until brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in peppers and onions; cook, stirring occasionally, scraping up brown bits from bottom, until vegetables are soft and translucent, 10 minutes. Add sazón, garlic, cilantro and oregano. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add rice to pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until coated in oil and toasted, about
1 minute. Stir in pigeon peas, tomato sauce and 1½ cups water; using a wooden spoon, stir once and bring rice mixture to a boil. Cook, uncovered, until water is evaporated, about 10 minutes. Gently stir rice from bottom up.
Lower heat to medium low and cook, covered, until rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat. Gently fluff rice with fork. Cover pan and let stand 10 minutes.
Cooking Tip:
The crust of rice that forms on the bottom of the pot is a delicacy referred to in Puerto Rico as pegao. Once the rice is served, the pegao is scraped out and distributed as a treat.
To achieve the perfect crust – caramelized and crunchy, but not burnt –once the water has evaporated, scrape the bottom of pan with the wooden spoon, making sure to dislodge any stuck bits [Step 2]. This will prevent the rice from burning. Then, allow the rice to cook over medium-low heat, and refrain from shaking the pot or lifting the lid. This will ensure an even distribution of heat on the bottom of the pot, which, in turn, allows the perfect pegao to form.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!! St. Patrick's Day Blessing Upon You!!

It's pronounced: (ban-ock-tee na fay-lah paw-rig ur-iv), by the way...

In any case, Happy St. Patrick's Day!!  

While I do love corned beef and cabbage; it isn't the only great Irish dish out there, especially for St. Patrick's Day.  Tonight I am making a yummy Irish Stew with Guinness and Irish Brown Soda Bread.  Both super easy to make (and with my electric pressure cooker, ready in 45 minutes as opposed to 2 - 3 hours) and delicious.

First, get the stew going...this is a recipe from Killarney, County. Kerry, Ireland so it doesn't get any more authentic than this. 


Irish Lamb Stew with Guinness
  • 3 pounds lamb shoulder with a little fat, cubed
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 6 stalks celery, cut into 1/2" slices
  • 2 large yellow onions, cut into large dice
  • 3 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch fresh rosemary
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 2 quarts lamb or beef stock, or as needed
  • 12 ounces Guinness stout
  • 1 cup pearl barley (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For a real Irish country touch, include the barley -- cook it for 20 minutes in 3 cups of lamb or beef stock, then add when you return the meat to pot with the vegetables.

Cut off some of the parsley leaves and chop enough to make 2 tablespoons; reserve. 

Cut off some parsley stems, and tie them into a bundle with a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme; reserve.

Season the meat with salt and brown the meat in a little oil. Remove and reserve, and sprinkle with a little flour, shaking off excess. 

Add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery to the pan and sauté, tossing to coat with the fat. 

Add the Guinness and deglaze, scraping up any caramelized meat juices. 

Add the potatoes, return the meat to the pot (and the barley if you're using it). 

Add enough stock to barely cover, cook over medium heat until just boiling, then reduce heat to very low and simmer 2 - 3 hours, until the meat is tender, stirring occasionally.

Check seasonings, add salt and pepper to taste, then remove from heat, stir in parsley and the cornstarch (mixed into 4 teaspoons water) and stir. 

Cook over low heat for a few more minutes to thicken. 

Serve with plenty of Irish brown or white soda bread, tea and more Guinness if you like.

YIELD: 6 generous servings


Once you have the stew simmering away, about an hour or an hour and fifteen minutes before you want to sit down to your delicious Irish Stew, mix and bake some Brown Irish Soda Bread.

This recipe is courtesy of Mrs. O' Callaghan at Ballinalacken Castle Country House and Restaurant.  Their bread is baked in a rectangular pan but I prefer to shape it by hand into a round and cut the cross into it as it is made traditionally....


Mrs. O'Callaghan's Brown Irish Soda Bread 

Makes 1 loaf
March 2010


  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled margarine or butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I prefer to use butter)
  • 2 cups buttermilk


  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray heavy baking sheet with nonstick spray. Whisk both flours, sugar, and baking soda in medium bowl to blend. Add margarine (I prefer to use butter) and cut in until margarine is reduced to pea-size pieces. Add buttermilk; stir until shaggy dough forms. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until dough comes together, about 10 turns. Shape dough into 9-inch round (the round should be about 1 inch high). Place dough on prepared baking sheet. Cut large X, 1/2 inch deep, in top of dough, almost all the way to the edges of the round.
  • Bake bread in center of oven until deep brown and bottom sounds hollow when firmly tapped (a bamboo skewer inserted into the center of the bread should emerge clean without any stickiness or moistness), about 55-60 minutes. Transfer bread to rack and cool completely. 
    Serve with LOTS or fresh, soft Kerry Gold (if you can get it) butter!!!

s maith an t-anlann an t-ocras. (Or, "hunger is a tasty sauce")

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!