Tag Archives: calabaza

Chick Pea, Sausage and Winter Squash/Calabaza Stew

9 Nov

Soup and stew season is upon us!

Funnily enough, I was working on a story on Indian food for Edible Long Island when I spotted my kind of calabaza in the pumpkin section of Patel Brothers (a nationwide chain of Indian/South Asian groceries stores) in Hicksville, and made sure to buy a big hunk on the way out after my interview with the manager.

Calabaza

Calabaza

I say “funnily”, not just because I found Caribbean calabaza in an Indian shop — which in and of itself has some sort of sardonic Christopher Columbus karma about it — but that because of immigration patterns, i can no longer find the Puerto Rican variety in Latin groceries where it belongs. All the Puerto Ricans have married out or moved out and been replaced by Central Americans who use kabochas or some other varieties which are not quite right for me!

(For more on calabaza and a classic Puerto Rican rice and beans recipe, click here!)

This smells ever so good bubbling up on the stove....

This smells ever so good bubbling up on the stove….

So, the calabaza inspired me to soak some garbanzos, dig out some chicken andouille from Aidell’s that was in my freezer and get busy making stew. I brought some to my colleague Jainy, who is from India and was my guide through the research for the article, and she loved this different treatment of pumpkin. So did her mom, apparently, which is high praise indeed. They had them with parathas…I love New York and our jumble of cultures!

Thick and delicious and packed with interesting textures!

Thick and delicious and packed with interesting textures!

Chick Pea, Andouille and Winter Squash Stew

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 Cup onion, chopped

1 Cup green pepper, chopped

1-2 Tbs garlic, chopped

1 small tomato, chopped

1 Cup andouille or other spicy heat and serve sausage

4 Cups cooked squash or pumpkin in the cooking liquid

2 Bay leaves

1 tsp oregano

2 Cups garbanzos, drained

Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot until fragrant. Saute the onion for a minute at medium, then add the green pepper, cook another minute, then the garlic, cook another minute, then add the tomato and allow it all to cook at low for another five minutes, adding a bit of oil if you need more moisture.

Stir in the sausage and raise the temperature to medium high. Add the sausage and sauté for 2 minutes or until it stats to brown. Then add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer for ten minutes. Serve with rice or couscous.

 

Kendra’s Grilled Lamb Chops and Sauteed Calabaza Pumpkin, and other tasty stuff from Puerto Rico

7 Aug

(This recipe has been corrected to reflect Kendra’s input!)

I have mentioned that I was recently in Puerto Rico at the venerable Caribe Hilton to speak on a panel (for the Triennial Convention of the American Federation of School Administrators). It was a pleasure and an honor to speak with such dedicated professionals! And everything went very well; I learned a great deal and made many interesting acquaintances.

The view from Kendra and Raúl’s in Isla Verde

I was not able to take my son and it was the strangest, and not very pleasant sensation to be so far away. In the annals of never-happy, it is an awful irony that I complain and complain that I never have a moment to myself, and then when I finally do, I am bereft. I can’t stand myself sometimes.

El Jibarito…there was quite a line at 2 p.m., but it moved FAST

But, I recovered my senses. And of course, I ate.

Pernil with mofongo de yuca and the sad, sad, salad that is a Puerto Rican criollo restaurant inevitability…

In Old San Juan, El Jibarito on Calle Sol can be counted on for good old-fashioned comida criollo. I had pernil (roast pork) and mofongo de yuca (yuca with garlic and oil, mashed and fried). I had drinks with José Luis, my beloved Colombian friend whose got the loveliest clothing boutique in Condado (Ambar) . I visited with Emilio, of Oof Restaurants for a long overdue catch-up. Had a leaisurely coffee and tea with the inimitable Chef Norma Llop, who runs much of the gastronomy end of PR Tourism. And had a long visit with my godmother, Carmen Palacios de Ramírez, with a glimpse of godfather Efrén deep in writing a book…yes, I got around a lot in just a few days!

Ceviche

With dear friends David and Sean, I had very good ceviche at Perurrican over most stimulating conversation.

Location, location, location – Perurrican in Condado

And then Kendra, who was for years my partner in mischief all over the Caribbean, my soccer buddy on the Puerto Rico National Team, and is still an all around lioness of a friend, not only made a delicious meal for me in the home she shares with her fabulous partner, Raúl, but showed me how it was done. Before we’d had too much wine to get the recipe down in writing! (Are you listening Adri? It can be done!)

The view from Kendra and Raúl’s at 5 p.m.

It was a wonderful trip!

CHOPS!

The monster mash: adobo

The grill

The results!

Kendra’s Grilled Lamb Chops

2 lbs lamb chops, rinsed and patted dry

Adobo

4 cloves garlic

1-2 sprigs rosemary – just the leaves

¾ tsp salt per pound

Grating of pepper

PLUS extra virgin olive oil, to be added teaspoon by teaspoon

After prepping the lamb chops, place all adobo ingredients except oil in a mortar and pestle and grind down to a rough paste, adding oil a half teaspoon at a time until you reach a spreadable, but non-greasy texture.

Paint both sides of the chops and refrigerate until about ready to use. Give the chops enough time to return to room temperature before grilling.

Heat your grill until just under its high temperature, then scrape grill clean if necessary. Allow to heat up for a couple of minutes, then start.

Place chops on grill. After 1.5 minutes, turn them over. Cook for another 1.5 minutes, then repeat. Stand them up on their sides on the grill for another minute, checking for the density of the chops to firm up. Remove from grill, place on a platter and tent them with aluminum foil for another five minutes. You may check for doneness with a meat thermometer (140°F will be rare, although many chefs stop at 120°-130°). The chops can rest until you are ready to serve.

Continue Scrolling Down for Calabaza Recipe

Cutting the calabaza

Yum

Sauteed Calabaza (Caribbean Pumpkin)

2lbs calabaza (acorn squash is the nearest substitute)

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp butter

1 tsp honey

Wash calabaza rind thoroughly. Do not peel. Chop calabaza into 1.5” chunks. Sprinkle sparingly with salt.

Heat oil and butter in a pan at medium high until foaming subsides. Add calabaza, stir to coat and turn down to medium low so you hear a slightly sizzle. Drizzle with honey and cook for a few minutes until beginning to soften, but still resistant to a fork. Turn off burner, cover and leave for at least 5-10 minutes, until a fork passes easily through, and you are ready to serve.

Puerto Rican Rice and Beans (Arroz con habichuelas)

26 Feb

I didn’t mean to make arroz con habichuelas last week, but when I dashed into a Latin supermarket for something else, I was stopped dead by the presence of something that looked pretty close to Puerto Rican pumpkin (or calabaza, as we call it). The Fates intervened with my dinner plans.

Native to the Americas, pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) has been an integral part of diets in this part of the world for thousands of years. The flesh and the seeds are used for many purposes. (in Mexico the crushed seeds are used to coat meats as you might use breadcrumbs). It is also one-third of the famed Three Sisters agricultural practice. Corn stalks make a trellis for beans, while pumpkin enjoys the shade underneath. Each plant supplies a nutrient to the soil that the other one needs, so the soil stays naturally healthy and fertile, while the produce provides invaluable nutrition to people. It just makes sense.

I have published this recipe before, but this time I include more substitutions if you don’t have a nearby source for Latin style ingredients. Check your “International foods” aisle for prepared sofrito – Goya has a wide reach and its sofrito is used by Caribbean Latin cooks all over, so you are in good company with this shortcut.

The new substitution of cooked ham steak for the salt pork reflects what I’ve been doing since I can’t find the kind of cooking pork I like. It is neat and tidy, fairly cheap, adds good flavor, and the extra can be frozen for another day (the cooked ham steaks are super-easy to chop fine or mince when frozen).

If you don’t find calabaza (and in fact the one that made me whip up this pot of beans was a Jamaican style and not quite what I like, but perfectly serviceable), acorn squash is my favorite substitute.

Note: With the leftovers I make quesadillas or nachos…yum. Also goes great with rotisserie chicken!

Don’t be put off by the number of ingredients; once you do the prep, you are almost done.

Ingredients

  1. 1lb calabaza caribeña (Caribbean pumpkin) OR 1 lb. acorn squash, washed, cut in half, seeds removed and cut into big chunks (you can cut the rind off before boiling or peel it off after). It should be boiled for 15 minutes, or until tender. Set aside and reserve ½ cup cooking liquid.
  2. ½ lb salt pork, diced (don’t discard the hard rind, just score the fat as best you can). You can also use ham steak – readily available in the supermarket (4 oz cooked ham is a worthy substitute)

3. SOFRITO

(sofrito is the roux, the mirepoix, the basic saute seasoning of Puerto Rican cooking and is very difficult to reconstruct in the mainland U.S., which is why Goya makes a fortune selling it in jars. So if you can get most of the ingredients for sofrito at the local bodega/supermarket, then do this! –actually, quadruple or quintuple it and freeze it in ice cube trays for use later. Otherwise, buy commercial sofrito and use a couple of heaping tablespoons)

½ onion, minced (about ¾ Cup)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cubanelle (long green Italian cooking) pepper, seeded and diced

Five or six ajíes (non-spicy green peppers that look exactly like scotch bonnets/habaneros, but are not at all spicy! Taste them! They are hard to find but Latin supermarkets often have them), seeded and diced. Use another cubanelle – the redder the better — if you can’t get these.)

Five or six hojas de recao – culantro leaves- chopped. (Not to be confused with cilantro, these look like dandelion leaves without the curvy sides. They are hard to get, usually come from Costa Rica and their potency disappears quickly after cutting. I actually grow my own in the summer, which takes forever and yields very little in my part of the world. If you find them, use them as soon as you get them home! If you can’t find them, buy the sofrito WITH culantro)

3 Tbs tomato paste or Latin style tomato sauce/salsa de tomate (optional)

1 Tbs dried oregano (2 Tbs fresh)

2 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

  1. two 15-oz cans pink beans (habichuelas rosadas), rinsed and drained

DIRECTIONS

While you are boiling the calabaza, heat the pork in a heavy pot. Cook it through and remove the scored rind. Leave the diced meat. Add a bit of olive oil, if necessary, then sauté the sofrito ingredients until tender, adding optional tomato at the end. Add beans. Add cooked calabaza and the reserved liquid. Cook for 15 minutes and serve on white or brown rice.

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