Black beans and Pork Verde
September is Latin American month in our house (oops, on our boat, rather).
We’re going along with the local mood, as September is Patriotic month in Mexico. The big day was Sept 16, Mexico’s Independence Day with fiestas organised everywhere! All shops and houses were decorated with flags and balloons, Playa del Carmen had crowds gathered down the Plaza, not sure if they had fireworks, with all the pouring rain, but that would not have stopped the Mexicans having fun. Even Anne got involved at school, and asked me to buy her some red-white-green earrings for the occasion. The supermarkets were brimming with specials on Mexican food products: tortillas, tomatoes, avocadoes, chili sauces, rice, beans, spices, sugar… heavily hinting that putting on a traditional feast was part of the celebrations (let’s not forget the Corona’s specials too: buy a 6 pack, get another for ½ price!).
I also happen to be writing about Cuba in our other blog, so my head is full of images of roast pork, black bean soup, and pina coladas. Not surprisingly, all this has influenced my cooking lately, and I have found myself trying to either recreate Cuban dishes or experiment with Mexican ones. So far, I have had success with two: black beans and Pork Verde.
Black beans have become Anne and Marc’s favourites. They are a staple Maya food, simmered with onion, garlic, and typical Mexican spices (cumin and coriander), easy to cook, filling and tasty. Mexicans eat them daily, Anne even orders it at the school cantina, where a fresh batch bubbles in a huge pot each morning.
Pork Verde is my version of Cuban roast pork. I have issues with recipes for “genuine melt-in-the- mouth” roast pork recipes, since most of them require slow cooking /baking for 6 to 8 hours, not practical on a boat with limited amount of gas. So I steered away from Pulled Pork or Pork Pibil recipes and devised my own using my pressure cooker. The trick is to use pork shoulder meat (boneless or not) which is more flavorful and tender than pork leg as it has more fat in it. I also don’t use much liquid, as I prefer the meat to simmer in its own juice and fat, not unlike a confit. Throw in some aromatics, as many chilies as you can handle, cook for 1 hour or until the meat is very tender. (Cooking in the pressure cooker takes a third of the time required for baking, a precious advantage on board)
We had leftovers of both dishes the other day (I like to make a big batch I must say, it keeps well in the fridge), and served them for lunch in typical Mexican style: with flour tortillas (you can use corn tortillas if you prefer), thinly sliced radishes, avocado and beetroot salad. Unfortunately I had ran out of crema (Mexican sour cream) and cilantro (coriander), which would have been nice additions, dolloped and sprinkled on top! Next time.
Frijoles Negro ( Black beans)
2 cups dried black beans, rinsed and picked over
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and thinly sliced
1 yellow onion chopped
2 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp ground coriander
¼ cup minced garlic
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
In a large saucepan, soak the beans overnight in water to cover by 2 inches. Drain and add water to cover by 2”. Add the chile, onion, cumin, coriander and garlic. Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook in the pressure cooker until tender, about 45mn (if cooking in a traditional pot, cook uncovered until tender about 1 ½h). Remove from the heat and let cool in the liquid for approx 15mn. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the cilantro and serve.
4 tbsp olive oil
1.8 kg (4 pounds) pork shoulder cut into 1” cubes
1 poblano chili (or more to taste)
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
3 garlic cloves minced
½ cup minced cilantro
1 can (14oz) diced tomatoes
Flour tortillas , warmed
1- In the pressure cooker, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium-high. Add 1 pound of pork, and stir until lightly browned. Remove and set aside. Repeat with remaining meat, adding more oil as needed. Return all the meat to the pressure cooker.
2- Add chili(es), cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, garlic, cilantro and diced tomatoes. Cover and simmer until pork is very tender, about 45mn. Serve with warm tortillas, black beans (see above), guacamole and fresh radishes.