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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Before The Soup

Last time I blogged about making black bean soup with the bone from roasted pork.  Here is how to make the roast pork so you will have the bone you need for your soup.  This pork can also become an ingredient in your Cubanos (Cuban sandwiches).

You can use any kind of pork shoulder to make this dish.  The one I like best is also the cheapest.  My market often has it for only 99 cents a pound.  It is often called picnic ham or picnic shoulder and usually has a layer of fat and one of skin still attached.  Don't be fooled by the name "ham".  It is not smoked or cured like a ham, it is fresh pork meat.  Other cheap cuts are called pork shoulder (duh) or pork butt.  These range (in my area) from about $1.29 to $1.89 per pound.  If you buy the picnic ham or shoulder that has the skin attached you will be rewarded with crisp, crackly pork similar to chicharones to nosh on. 

The other day, Bill said he had something for me. It was Miguel's recipe for roast pork, which he had written out for me.  As Miguel says, the amount will vary based on the size of the pork shoulder you have.  You probably want enough marinade to thoroughly coat the meat and some to drip down.

Adobo (Goya brand - a powdered seasoning mix)
Black Pepper
Garlic (7 cloves or more, smashed or crushed or minced)
Sour orange (naranja agria - a bottled marinade mixture also by Goya)
Start with about 2 cups of the marinade, or just use the whole bottle.

Start this recipe a couple days before you wish to eat the pork - it will have to marinade a day or two.  Mix up the marinate and then slash into the pork all over.  Rub the marinade all over the pork and try to get some into the slashes as well.  Wrap it and place it in a deepish dish or pan in the fridge (or on a unheated back porch if it's winter) to rest for at least a day or overnight.  If you have a plastic bag large enough, you can place the marinade and meat inside and turn it easily several times during the marinating process.

Remove the wrapping and roast in a covered roasting pan 3 hours at 400 degrees, then uncover and cook 45 minutes longer at 450 to crisp up the skin.

Remove the crackly skin and carve into serving pieces to serve along with the sliced pork.  Arroz con Gandules (rice and pigeon peas) is a good accompaniment.  I will post that recipe if Miguel is kind enough to share it.  Homemade potato salad goes well too.  Serve any of the pan drippings as a sauce over the meat after skimming the excess fat.  Save any extra drippings to add to your soup stock along with the bone and any trimmings of fat.

Quotable quotes; in the category If wishes were . . . wait, what?

"Beef wishes it tasted like pork."  Anonymous

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Soup In Three Days!

Every year in the week before Thanksgiving, the guys in Bill's shop bring in food.  Miguel prepares a roasted pork shoulder, Puerto Rican style.  Rice and pigeon peas (Arroz con Gandules) and potato salad are on the menu (homemade, of course) along with loaves of French bread.  Sometimes Bill is able to bring home a little for me, if there is any leftover.

One year I asked if Miguel did anything with the bone from the roast pork, like make soup stock.  Miguel did not - but he did give the bone to Bill to bring home to me.

This year Bill brought home enough pork, rice and potato salad to make a meal for us the day before Thanksgiving - and a whole loaf of French bread that was destined to be tossed.  Can you say sandwiches?

As a special treat Miguel approached Bill, telling him he had a gift for his wife (me).  It was the bone from the pork shoulder, neatly wrapped in foil and plastic, with Miguel's compliments for a happy Thanksgiving.  Bill asked me to make black bean soup from the bone.  We tucked it in the freezer to be dealt with after all the leftover turkey was gone.  I planned to boil the bone and make soup from the broth, but the tryptophan stupor from the leftover turkey put me behind schedule.

On Monday I remembered the bone.  No problem, I could soak the beans and boil the bone to make stock on Monday, cook the beans in the stock with vegetables (sofrito) on Tuesday, then reheat the finished soup with some sauteed and sliced chorizo sausage to be eaten on Wednesday.  A perfect plan.  A perfect soup.  Here's how to make your own.  You will need a bone from a roasted pork shoulder.  If you don't have a friend to give you one, I will tell you how another time.  You can substitute canned broth if you have to.

Break the bone with a hammer (optional) then place in a large pot and cover with water by about 2 inches.  Add to the pot onion skins and trimmings from the scrubbed vegetables you will use in the soup.  This might be a couple carrots, trimmed celery stalks and an onion.  If you have recently trimmed a tomato throw those in too.  The veggie trimmings enrich the stock and add flavor.

Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for several hours.  Allow to cool slightly, discard the solids and strain the stock.  Chill overnight.  Meanwhile cover a cup of black beans with water and soak overnight.

Next day, remove the fat from the surface of the stock.  Saute a chopped onion, carrots and celery in olive oil (or the fat from the chorizo) with some dried red pepper flakes, some black pepper, a little Adobo seasoning and some thyme, marjoram and savory (or herb blend) and some ground cumin.  When vegetables are limp and onions translucent, scrape into the pot with the stock.  Add the soaked, drained and rinsed beans, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer an hour or two until beans are tender.  If you have any tomatoes go ahead and add some to the pot.

Don't forget the chorizo!  I used the dry Spanish style chorizo.  I sliced it thinly on the diagonal and sauteed it briefly in a skillet, just enough to get the flavorful oils to release.  If there is not enough to saute your vegetables, add a little olive or vegetable oil.  Reserve the chorizo slices for the next day.  Allow the soup to chill and to stand overnight.

Finally, on the third day, reheat the soup along with the chorizo.  You can add seasonings if it needs a boost - a little lemon or lime juice or a dribble of vinegar will perk up the flavors.  If you want the soup thick you can mash some of the beans with a potato masher or an immersion blender.  I don't bother putting it in the blender - too much work and too many appliances to wash afterward.  Or just leave it as it is - soupy and full of bean-ey goodness.

Serve your black bean soup with any, all or none of these garnishes:  diced avocado, minced green onion and/or cilantro, finely chopped tomato and/or onion, a dollop of sour cream.  Some hearty bread is a good accompaniment.  And in honor of Miguel, Bone Appetit!

Quotable quotes; in the category I Agree, Roast Pork IS Essential . . . AND A Project!

"I object to you using words like 'squander' and 'pork'.  What is pork in one part of the country is an essential project in another part."

John Breaux, Politician