I’ll tell you, but you may come up missing.

This is one of those dishes.¬†You know the type. So very¬†basic, so unpretentious and so incredibly¬†delicious. This is what my mom would call ‘chicken in a hurry’.

Linz, the hubby, loves it and always asks me how I make it, what goes in it. I like to tell him it’s my Secret Panamanian Chicken. I¬†finally had to admit to him that it was so easy, it sounded more impressive if I shrouded it in mystery. There isn’t a single fancy ingredient here. You have chicken, onions and peppers, a bit of tomato. That’s it.

This one incorporates sofrito, which is then just simmered into sublime heavenliness with some beer or wine. I will share with you, but make sure you lock your doors while reading, my special boogy men may come get you.

Mi Pollo Guisado (My Stewed Chicken)
8 chicken thighs, rinsed
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp garlic, crushed (2 cloves)
1 tsp Jugo Maggi (or Worcestershire)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cps Sofrito
1 tsp habanero paste
1.5 cps beer or white wine
3 tbsp ketchup

Season the thighs with the salt, garlic, Jugo Maggi and pepper. Preheat a large, heavy-bottomed pan and add the oil. Brown the chicken on both sides, remove from the heat and set aside.

Discard the excess oil and add the sofrito, scraping the bits that are stuck at the bottom of the pan.

Add the habanero paste, beer and ketchup. Stir it all in, making sure it is evenly incorporated before putting the chicken pieces back in. Allow it to simmer tightly covered for 35 minutes. Remove the lid and allow it to cook down for another 10 minutes. 

Serve with rice or patacones.

Variation:¬†Last time I made this, I didn’t have beer around. I added 1.5 tbsp balsamic vinegar after putting the sofrito in and used 1 cp wine.

Don’t knock it till you try it.

I’m not sure how to get into this post, except to channel the hubby.
This is not a broth, it’s a soup.
This is not a soup, it’s a stew.
This is not a stew, it’s a symphony¬†of savory flavors that titillate on your palate and leave you wanting for more.

This is a dish I love and have loved since childhood. This is also one of those dishes I don’t eat freely just anywhere. It is something Linz vowed never to eat, but now begs for it. Preparation for this one is important and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Whenever I make it, I do so in large quantities because I’d rather get the prep done and move on, but also because we fight over every little bite of it.

 

The dish is Mondongo aka Tripe Stew. But see, I think tripe is an icky sounding word, which is why I had such a tough time starting this post. Let’s find out about the main ingredient.

You get tripe from an animal’s stomach; the stomach’s lining has a couple different chambers. Commercially available beef tripe is usually the honeycomb and flat tripe variety. It should be cleaned with great care and rinsed a few times, this will prevent any undesirable odors when cooking it.

Preparation and cleaning.
You need to remove any excess fat attached to the tripe. It’s easiest to buy the tripe in a large piece, this will make cleaning it much easier. I use a knife for this process. For this recipe, I used 3 lbs of the flat + 1 lb of the honeycomb tripe.

Once you have removed the excess fat, rinse it a few times. Usually I will submerge it once in water with 2 tbsp white vinegar. Rinse with clean cool water. Then again, but this time submerging in water with the juice from 1 lime/lemon. Rinse and drain. It is now ready to cut into pieces about the size of the top of your thumb–1 inch or so.

In a large stock pan, add 1/2 of a whole onion, 4 cloves of garlic–there’s no need to peel either. Also add 5 whole cloves, 10 peppercorns, 1 tbsp salt, 2 tsps¬†Jugo¬†Maggi OR Worcestershire, 2 tsp crushed oregano, 4 bay leaves, 5 culantro leaves OR a good handful of cilantro, stems and all. Add the tripe over this, and a 3 inch piece of salt pork or 4 strips of bacon. Add water to cover it all, bring it to a boil, lower the temperature to a slow simmer and allow it to cook for 1.5 hours. At this point it will still be quite al dente, not edible yet. Remove it from the heat, drain, rinse and remove all the aromatics. Set aside.

Optional: If you’d like, you can also add pig’s feet to the mondongo. In that case, you’ll want to rinse the pig’s feet by submerging them in warm water with vinegar, then¬†giving them a good rinse with cool water. Cook them separately using the same aromatics used for the tripe, if you want to preserve the difference in flavors between the feet and tripe. OR simply add them to the same pot you’re cooking the tripe in. Cook the feet about an hour, they will still be tough. Rinse and set aside.

Now for the good stuff, this is where the stew begins. Oh joy!

Mondongo a la Culona
4 lbs cooked tripe
1 lb cooked pig’s feet
1/4 cp salt pork or bacon, cubed
2 tbsp olive oil
2 lg onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cps carrots, chopped small
1 lg red bell pepper, chopped
3 bay leaves
4-5 culantro leaves OR 1/2 cp cilantro, chopped
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsps Jugo Maggi or Worcestershire
1 tsp beef bouillon
1 1/2 tsps sugar
1 tsp habanero sauce
1 28 oz tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cp olives
1 cp beer or white wine, optional
1/3 cp Parmesan cheese, grated

In the same stock pot you boiled the tripe, heat the oil and add pork fat, onions, garlic, bell pepper and carrots. Allow it to cook until they begin to soften. Add the culantro, bay leaves, tomatoes. Then add the habanero, Jugo¬†Maggi, sugar, tomato paste, salt, bouillon and beer. Check your seasonings, and if happy, add the tripe and pig’s feet. Make sure you stir it well and that the liquid covers the contents of the pot. Add water if necessary. Bring it to a boil, then lower temperature and allow it to simmer slowly.

Stir it every once in a while, but you can pretty much forget about it for about an hour. At that time, add the olives and allow it to simmer uncover for another 30-40 minutes or until the tripe is VERY tender. If you used the pig’s feet, you can pull them out once tender and take the meat off the bone, then add it back into the stew.

 If the broth is too runny, mix 2 tbsps cornstarch with about 1/4 cp water and stir it in. Make sure you allow it to boil before turning off the heat.

Serve this with rice, you will love it.

This is how we do it

Do you like beef? Do you like beef stew? When was the last time you made stew? I like, no, I love beef. Beef stew in its traditional way, not so much. I don’t really care for the boiled in potatoes and carrots. I don’t know what it is about them, the mushy texture, the taste they develop. I don’t know. Anyway. I make stew a bit more latinized, is that even a word? Carne guisada is what I make and what I like.

It may be a culture thing, but I prefer my meats fatty, especially when they’ll undergo a fair amount of braising. For this dish I would suggest using something like a shoulder or butt roast, these cuts are very forgiving. You will notice this has no root veggies, feel free to add some if you prefer them. I’m partial to onions and bell peppers which go in fairly early and will essentially dissolve into the sauce, so you don’t have to worry about fancing cutting. This recipe is pretty easy to make and I hope you will try it!

Carne Guisada
Ingredients
2-3 lb shoulder roast
3 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp garlic puree)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp Jugo Maggi
1 tsp oregano, crushed
1 tsp black pepper, ground
3 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cp cilantro, finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cp dark beer

Chop the roast into cubes, about 2-inches wide; season with garlic, salt, oregano, black pepper and Jugo Maggi. Set aside and chop the rest of your vegetables. In a medium pan or dutch oven type, heat up the oil then brown the beef cubes on all sides, you may need to do this in batches. Once done browning all the beef, set it aside. 

Add onions and bell peppers to the oil in the saucepan and cook until onions are translucent.¬†Stir in¬†the cilantro and tomato paste, then the beer.¬†Incorporate all of this and check the seasoning. Keep in mind you don’t want it to be salty, it will¬†braise for a while and the flavors will intensify. Add the beef and stir to make sure it is all covered in the braising liquid. Allow it to come to a boil, then lower temperature to medium low and cover.¬†Simmer it this way for about 45-60 minutes, stirring it ocassionally.

When the beef is fork tender, remove the lid and allow it to cook for another 15 minutes. This allows the sauce to thicken a bit. You’re done, serve with rice.