Fabada

So, we had a bit of snow here in Boston.

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It’s sort of amazing to me that with all the technological advances of the 21st century, things still come to a screeching halt for Mother Nature. Of course, thanks to some of those technological advances, Tuesday was a sort of work day anyway. In addition to job stuff, I spent a couple of hours shoveling. That was real work. I’m glad I train for life.

I hunkered down with some friends Monday night. There was wine and stories. A guitar singalong. Sledding down streets. The usual urban adventures.

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Times like this lend themselves well to slow cooked meals that stick to the ribs, so I made a fabada right before the storm hit. A fabada is a Spanish bean stew filled with pork parts. Traditionally, a pig trotter and ear are thrown in, but I wasn’t about to make a special trip to the grocery store before #snowmageddon, so I used what was on hand: pancetta, pork loin, chorizo, and pork belly. Pancetta was the only non-traditional ingredient, but it worked.

This is a meal best cooked overnight and then allowed to sit for a day, as the beans soak up more flavor as time goes on. But if time is short you can always eat it right away; it’s still pretty delicious straight out of the oven.

Fabada
(serves 6)

1 lb white or navy beans
1 onion, diced
5 cloves garlic
6 cups chicken stock
1 lb chorizo sausage, sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 to 2 lbs pork loin, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 oz pancetta
8 oz pork belly, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 Tb paprika
salt to taste
balsamic vinegar/glaze (optional)

Combine beans, onion, garlic, and stock in a large dutch oven and bring to a boil over high-heat. Reduce heat and let simmer for an hour. Heat oven to 250. Add meats, paprika, and salt to the beans and put the pot in the oven (if you need more liquid, add water to cover the beans). Cook six to eight hours, until beans are tender. Remove from oven and let cool. If you can wait a day to eat it, do. Serve drizzled with a bit of balsamic, or balsamic glaze.

Chori burgers

Sometime last summer, I learned about the chori burger at the Filipino gastropub Jeepney in New York.

While I was intrigued by the idea, I don’t get to New York much, so my prospects of trying the real chori burger were slim. Late last summer, I decided to do some experimenting. I headed to the Filipino market in Quincy and bought some longanisa and banana catsup, and then I made my own. They were pretty good. My very fit Filipino friend FJ had a similar idea, and was pleased with his results, which included fried plantains and adobo aioli. We thought that if we combined efforts that we’d end up with something pretty special.

After months of talking about it, we finally got together last week, and they were the best chori burgers we’ve ever made. They may have been the best burger I’ve ever made.

In my opinion, there were a few keys to our success:

– A burger press. Last time, I made the patties by hand, but this time FJ brought over a handy patty maker, which made prep easier, and ensured the burgers were equal in size. I’m not usually into kitchen gadgets, but this was a good one.

Banana catsup. Never heard of it? You must not be Filipino. American forces introduced the hamburger to the islands during World War II. However, catsup was unheard of and tomatoes were scarce. Bananas, however, were everywhere, and some enterprising folks figured out how to make catsup out of them. The resulting sauce is dyed red to resemble real catsup, but banana catsup is a bit sweeter than the traditional stuff. If you can’t find it, or all the weird colorings in it turn you off, there’s a recipe here. Regular catsup would also do in a pinch.

– Adobo aioli. I found a small bottle of adobo seasoning in the “ethnic food” aisle of my local market. Mix two tablespoons into about 3/4 of a cup of mayonnaise and you’re good to go.

IMG_5558banana catsup in action
(photo credit: Danielle)

I’ve said before that every time I cook Filipino food I wonder why I don’t do it more often. This time was no exception. Filipino food is famous for combining salty, sweet and savory flavors, and these burgers are no exception. The longanisa is fatty enough to keep the burger moist, despite the use of lean beef. The condiments add a nice umami, and the plantains bring a nice crunchy starch… though if I were doing this again I’d get plantains a few days in advance and let them ripen so they’re sweeter.

I’m not entirely sure why this is called a chori burger, as it’s made with longanisa. Some places in the Philippines offer a chori burger made with grilled chorizo (a different, slightly spicier pork sausage), and then also have a “lonnga burger.” So, technically, I guess this is a lonnga burger… whatever you call it, it’s delicious.

Below is a basic guide to making your own chori (lonnga) burgers. Give it a try- you won’t be sorry.

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Chori burgers
makes 6 burgers

For the burgers:
1 lb Filipino longanisa sausage
1/4 c white vinegar
1 lb lean ground beef (I used 93/7)

Remove longanisa from casings and put in a medium-sized bowl. Add vinegar and stir well.

Make 2.5 ounce meatball (a bit smaller than a golf ball) out of the beef and press into a patty (either with your hands or a burger press). Do the same with 2.5 ounces of longanisa. Combine the patties into one burger and set onto a plate. When all patties are made, start grilling. Set burgers on grill beef side down. Cook over medium-high (direct) heat, four to five minutes per side. Since the longanisa is made with pork you do not want to cook these rare, or even medium rare. Serve immediately, preferable on a toasted potato bun.

Top with banana catsup, adobo aioli, fried plantains, and butter lettuce.

Deconstructed granola pancakes

For years I’ve been telling people that I can’t make pancakes. Sure, I can smoke a pork shoulder and make fruit preserves, but my attempts at pancakes were generally sub-par. Sometimes they burned, sometimes they tasted terrible. But I’m happy to report that I’ve finally figured it out.

I went on a long ride last weekend with the Blue Hills Cycling Club. Just a few guys showed up for their 6 a.m. Saturday ride, and they very nicely let me come along despite my being obviously slower than them. I rode with them to Scituate (similar loop here) and then told them to go ahead. It was a gorgeous route along some back roads on the South Shore and then along the water from Hull to Cohasset. I managed to find my way home without too much trouble and felt much better on this 50-miler than I had just a week ago at the CRW Spring Century.

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When I got home it was almost 11 and I was pretty hungry. I try to eat every hour on the bike, but Clif bars aren’t super satisfying. A couple of these pancakes topped with syrup from my friend Billings did the trick pretty well though.

My inspiration for these was a granola pancake I saw on a menu somewhere. The idea of having more texture and wholesomeness in a pancake appealed to me, and I’ve discovered that the leftovers make a great pre-workout or mid-morning snack.

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Deconstructed granola pancakes
Makes 11 large pancakes

1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup almond flour
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1/4 sugar
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups milk or almond milk
1 egg
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and coat with a bit of melted butter. If butter sizzles in pan, reduce heat to low. Scoop 1/2 cup of batter per pancake into pan and let spread. Flip when batter starts to bubble and sides look slightly cooked. Let cook another minute or two and then remove from pan. Store leftovers wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge.