Habichuelas Colorados con Calabaza Guisado / Red Kidney Beans with Calabaza Squash


HHabichuelas con Calabaza

Habichuelas Colorados con Calabaza Guisado is a  popular Puerto Rican side dish made with red kidney beans and a Caribbean squash called Calabaza. It is a hard skinned squash with orange flesh similar to Acorn or Butternut squash, either of which may be substituted in this recipe. The Calabaza squash, which is easily found in Latin markets, adds a slightly sweet and earthy flavor to the beans. Serve over cooked white rice to create a perfect a side dish for grilled, roasted or fried meats. 

Ingredients:

1/2 pound chunk of Calabaza

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped Cubanelle pepper (Italian frying pepper)

3 cloves garlic

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon dried cilantro

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 – 16 ounce cans red kidney beans (or if you have more time on your hands than I do, feel free to soak some dried beans)

1 – 8 ounce can  tomato sauce

Method:

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Peel, remove seeds and dice the Calabaza into 3/4 inch pieces.

HHabichuelas con Calabaza

 

Place the diced Calabaza into a sauce pan with enough water to cover the cubes add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and simmer for 10 minutes or until fork tender. Drain the Calabaza reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

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Place onions, green peppers, garlic and olive oil into a small food processor and pulse a few times until a coarse puree is achieved.

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Place puree into a large thick bottomed saucepan and sauté for 5 minutes over low heat.

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Add remaining ingredients plus the cooked Calabaza  and the reserved 1/2 cup of cooking liquid to the sauce pan and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

HHabichuelas con Calabaza

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Traditional Puerto Rican “Pernil Horneado” – Roast Pork


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Pernil, Puerto Rican Style roast pork is a typically served for the Holidays, with “Tostones” (fried green bananas) and “Arroz con Gandules” (rice and pigeon peas) on the side. The whole trick to a perfect roast is low and slow cooking. Also do not cover the roast while cooking or the skin will not get crispy. Buen provecho.(enjoy)

 

1 – 8 to 10 pound picnic pork shoulder – (bone in)

3 tbsp. salt or 1 tsp. / pound

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. dried cilantro

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tbsp. ground cumin

6 cloves garlic peeled

1 large green pepper (coarsely chopped)

1 medium yellow onion (coarsely chopped)

1 lemon or lime (juiced)

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil

 

Wash pork shoulder under cold running water. Dry with paper towels and place on cutting board skin side up. Using a sharp knife cut through the skin to create a diamond pattern. Place remaining ingredients into a blender or food processor and puree. (This marinade is called Mojo and is also used on steaks, chicken and fish) Place pork into a large Zip-lock plastic bag and pour the marinade from the blender into the bag and seal. The pork shoulder should then be marinated in the refrigerator for 2 days for maximum flavor.  Turn over the bag occasionally to move the marinade around.

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Remove pork from bag and shake off excess marinade and discard. Place the pork shoulder on a rack with the skin side up in a deep sided roasting pan. Wipe marinade off the skin using a paper towel (this keeps the marinade from burning while roasting the pork). Add 1 inch of water to roasting pan to keep pan juices from burning.

Prenil

Pernil

Place the uncovered roast in oven and cook for 5 hours (30 minutes/pound) or if using a probe thermometer until roast reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees. To test the pork for doneness I use a fork to pull away a piece of meat, it should shred easily. Now check skin for desired crispness. If skin is still too soft you can get crisper skin by raising temperature up to 400 degrees but watch it closely because it will  burn quickly if not watched. When desired crispness is achieved remove roast from oven and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

PUERTO RICAN STYLE ARROZ CON POLLO (CHICKEN AND RICE)


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If you asked 10 Puerto Ricans “What do you ask your Mother to cook when you go to visit her?” I’ll bet 9 of 10 will say Arroz con Pollo!”  As I cooked this recipe and the aromas filled my kitchen, memories of my mother filled my head. I could see her in the kitchen browning off pieces of chicken while I was trying to steal a few of her olives and she would chase me away with her wooden spoon saying “You are not to big to get a beating.” Then we would both start to laugh. Good memories are what my “Heirloom recipes” are all about.

Arroz con Pollo Recipe:

6 chicken wings

6 chicken thighs

salt and pepper

3 tbsp. olive oil

4 tbsp. sofrito (see recipe below)

6 cups chicken broth

1 – 8 oz. can tomato sauce

16 pimento stuffed olives

3 tbsp. capers (rinsed)

4 cups long grain white rice

Pre-heat oven to 350 Degrees F

Season the chicken parts liberally with salt and pepper.

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Heat oil in a thick bottomed Dutch oven or caldero over medium heat. Brown chicken a few pieces at a time for about 5 minutes a side.(Chef’s note: don’t fuss with the chicken while it is browning, when the chicken is ready to be turned over it will be easy to turn over and will not stick to the bottom of the pan) When chicken is browned remove from pot and set aside.

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Drain pot of rendered chicken fat leaving 1 tbsp. of fat behind in the pot. Leave the browned bits in the bottom of the pot because they will add flavor. Add sofrito to the pot and cook for three minutes.

Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, olives, capers, rice and reserved chicken to the pot and bring liquid to a boil in an uncovered pot over medium heat.

Once boiling reduce heat to low and stir pot only once. If you stir rice too much it becomes sticky!

After about 5 to 10 minutes the rice will absorb most of the liquid in the pot. When the liquid  is just below the top of the rice, cover pot with a tight-fitting lid and place the pot into pre-heated oven for 25 minutes.

Remove pot from oven and allow rice to rest for 5 minutes  before removing lid. To serve fluff rice with a fork.

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Sofrito Recipe:

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1 large green or red pepper (large dice)

12 Aji Dulce peppers seeded and chopped or 2 Cubanelle peppers seeded and chopped*

2 medium onions (large dice)

6 cloves garlic (peeled and crushed)

1 jalapeno pepper

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tbsp. salt

1 tbsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1 cup cilantro leaves

2 leaves culantro (optional)

1/2 cup vegetable oil or light olive oil

 Place all ingredients into a food processor and process for 10 seconds. Reserve 4 tbsp. of mixture for above recipe. Save remaining sofrito by freezing in ice-cube trays then placing cubes into large zip-lock freezer bag for future use. Sofrito is a great marinade for grilled meats and for seasoning bean dishes.

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*Aji Dulce Peppers are small peppers that resemble a Scotch Bonnet pepper but they are a sweet not hot. Cubanelle peppers are also known as Italian frying peppers.

Flan – Puerto Rican Egg Custard Recipe


Finished Flan

This is a family “Heirloom Recipe” that my mother has been making for as long as I can remember. Flan is a Spanish caramel cream custard that is popular in Puerto Rico and many other Latin American countries. This is a simple yet elegant dessert you must try!

 

Special equipment;

Bundt pan

  • Bundt pan
  • Deep roasting pan
  • Round platter slightly larger than the Bundt pan with raised edges

Ingredients;

  • 5 extra-large eggs
  • 1 – 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1- 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 12 oz. whole milk
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • enough hot water to fill roasting pan 2 inches high

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

ingredients

Assemble all of the ingredients.

eggs in blender

Place eggs in the blender and whip for 15 seconds.

milk in blender

Add sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk to the blender. Then use empty can of evaporated milk to measure whole milk. Add the whole milk to the blender and whip for 30 seconds. Set aside.

sugar in the pot

Place sugar in  a dry sauce pan. Cook over medium high heat.

sugar partially melted

After 5 minutes sugar will begin to clump up. Break up clumps with a wooden spoon.

caramel

Continue to cook sugar until it liquefies and turns a light caramel color. Don’t go too dark or it will get a burnt flavor.

pouring caramel

Pour caramel into Bundt pan.

spreading caramel

Using a wooden spoon, spread caramel half way upsides of pan including tube.

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Place coated Bundt pan into roasting pan.

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Pour custard mixture into Bundt pan.

pouring water

Place roasting pan with Bundt pan into pre-heated oven. then pour hot water into roasting pan. About 2 inches high. Bake for 45 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.

un sticking flan

After removing from the oven allow to cool for 15 minutes then using a thin knife separate top edge of flan from the pan.

tilt pan

After flan has cooled tilt pan back and forth until you can see the caramel oozing up the sides of the pan. Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours or over night.

cover pan with platter

Place the inverted platter on top of the Bundt pan. Now comes the fun part. Holding the platter tight against the Bundt pan flip the pan over being careful not to lose the liquid caramel.

flipped flan

Note: After removing Flan from the pan there will be some hard caramel in the bottom of the pan. Don’t worry you can boil some water and pour it in the Bundt pan and it will melt away.

Sofrito and Red Kidney Beans


sofrito tray

Sofrito is a blend of peppers, onions, garlic, spices and herbs used to flavor the food from Puerto Rico and many other Latin American countries. I always keep some in my freezer. When I make up a batch I freeze it in small pre-measured containers so it is ready to go when I am making rice and beans. I also use it to marinate meat.

This is the basic recipe I use to make my sofrito.

  • 2 large green peppers (coarsely diced)
  • 2 medium onions (coarsely diced)
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 3 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried cilantro
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil or light olive oil

Place all ingredients in a food processor and puree for 10 seconds. Spoon 4 tablespoons  of mixture into small plastic cups or into hole of ice cube tray and freeze. After freezing I place the cups or cubes into a large freezer bag until ready to use.

To make Red Kidney Beans I use :

  • 1 plastic cup of sofrito or 1 cube from ice cube tray
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 – 15 oz. cans Red Kidney beans (do not drain liquid)
  • 1 – 8 oz. can tomato sauce

Place sofrito and oil into medium sized sauce pan over low heat until thawed. Then raise the heat to medium low and continue to cook for 3 minutes. Add beans and sauce to pan and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve over white rice.

Espero que disfrute de esta receta.

(Translation: I hope you enjoy this recipe.)

Carne Guisada – Puerto Rican Beef Stew


Tonight’s dinner started out as beef stew then I went to my pantry and came out with some olives, capers, cilantro and cumin. With a few  ingredients I converted  a plain old stew into a savory Caribbean staple. If you are looking for a great recipe to make when the weather begins to get cold, this is it. This stew is so tender and  easy to make. It has a thick and a mildly spicy gravy which I ladled over rice. It is a wonderful way to feed a hungry crowd.

3 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup flour for dusting

2.5-3 Lb. chuck roast

1 med onion (diced)

3 carrots (diced)

1 green pepper (diced)

3 cloves garlic

2 tsp. Dried cilantro

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tbsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tbsp. salt

2 bay leaves

2 lbs. red potatoes (1″ dice)

24 Manzanilla stuffed olives

2 tbsp. capers

2 cups chicken stock

8 ounce can tomatoes sauce

Dice chuck roast into 1-1/2″ cubes

Heat oil in a large thick bottomed pot over med heat.

Lightly dust  beef cubes with flour.

When oil is hot brown beef cubes a few pieces at a time. Do not crowd the pot. Then remove from the pot and set aside.

When done browning beef lower the heat to medium-low then add onions, green peppers, carrots and garlic to pot and cook until onions and peppers get soft (about 5 minutes). Then add browned beef back into pot. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot. Increase heat and bring to a boil with pot uncovered.  When liquid begins to boil, lower heat to a simmer then cover the pot and cook for an additional 1 – 1/2 hours.

Serve with rice

Puerto Rican Pastelillos de Carne (Empanadas)


 

Pastelillos de Carne are meat filled pastries that are a popular in Puerto Rico and throughout Latin America. They are also called Empanadas although Pastilillos in Puerto Rico usually have a thinner and crisper  shell than an Empanda. The filling varies depending on the country. This is my mother’s recipe with a few adjustments I have made over the years.

 

Picadillo Filling for Pastilillos:

 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

½ cup green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped

½ cup onion, peeled and finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried cilantro

½  teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper  

½  tablespoon cumin

1 pound lean ground beef

16 manzanilla olives, stuffed with pimento, sliced in half

8 ounces tomato sauce

¼ cup raisins

2 packages Goya Discos Grandes (large pastry shells)

 

Recipe:  Heat oil in sauté pan over medium low heat. Add oil, green peppers, onions, garlic, oregano, cilantro, cumin, salt, pepper and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add add olives, tomato sauce and raisins to the pan then cover and simmer for 10 minutes over low heat. Place ground beef into a second pan and cook over medium heat and stir occasionally to break up the chunks of beef until meat is slightly browned and all of the pink is gone. Place the meat in a colander to remove excess liquid. After draining add the beef to the onion and pepper mixture and simmer for an additional 20 minutes over low heat. When done put the picadillo mixture on one end of a sheet pan then place pan on kitchen counter. Use a kitchen towel, to elevate one end of the pan. This will allow excess oil to drain from the picadillo. Then refrigerate the mixture to cool for at least 20 minutes.

Place shell on flat surface and wet outer edge with water. Place 2 large tablespoons of filling in center of a disc and fold disc in half over the filling, making sure the edges meet. To get a flaky crust avoid over filling your empanadas.

Then using a fork seal the edges tightly.  Pan fry Pastilillos in 2 inches of oil until golden then drain on paper towels.

Another option is they can be egg washed and baked at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until golden.