Monday, April 26, 2010

Green Papya & Pork

OK. I gotta let you know:
I have NO idea what the name of this dish is.
You figure, after years of eating and cooking this dish, I would.
But, no. (I should find out...)
Although, It might be based on a Pinoy(Filipino) dish, something similar that my Nanay(mom) made before....but not exactly.
For now, we'll call it Green Papaya and Pork Stew.
This is one of those recipes that you feed 6-8 people with, or you'll find yourself eating this for about 3 days. Which some of you all can appreciate and agree with me, that soups and stews are so much better the next day or the day after that. Can I get an "Amen!"
All of my ingredient were picked up at Ranch 99. So that makes the shopping part real easy.

1 med-med.large Green Papaya - 11/2 - 2 inch portions. Yes, get rid of the skin and seeds.
2-3 lbs of fatty pork belly - 11/2 - 2 inch portions. Salt and pepper your pork and let it sit for a while.
1 bunch of Chinese long green beans - 2 -3 inch cuts.
2 tomatoes  - sliced thin. These you want disintegrating into nothingness.
1 large onion - sliced thin. These you want disintegrating into nothingness, too.
5 cloves of garlic - peeled whole.
4-5 slices of ginger
2-3 Bay leaves.

*note~ you don't have to follow the recipe to a tee. How much of each item you want to put into the stew is really up to you. But you might want to think about what it is that you want to aim for as far as over all taste goes.
I was focused on the subtle but fragrant sweetness of the The Green Papaya and sweet and saltiness of caramelized pork fat. Doesn't that sound like the bomb-doggity
As Tony would say, "Oh, yeah baby. Come to poppa."

Prep & Rant:
Now, when prepping a stew such of this, you have to really factor in cooking time. Stew of ALL forms cannot be and must not be rushed.
Don't you hate it when you find a recipe that says 4-5 hrs. cooking time. And you're like, "Seriously? Why the hell for?"
I won't leave you in the dark for this one.
When stewing: What you really doing is breaking down the physical structure of the ingredients and turning some of the solid matter into liquid. What you are trying to achieve is a certain flavor, texture and liquid consistency throughout the stew.
This particular stew at the very earliest can be eaten after 2-3 hrs. of cooking.
But again, it is best appreciated the next day (or 2).

So, what I was trying to get at is this: because of the extended cooking time, you should cut everything in larger portions. Or everything will shrink and disintegrate into mush.
Which would be fine, if you were eating through a straw or tube.

Cooking steps:
Heat a huge-ass pot with a couple tablespoons of olive oil (or your favorite cooking oil).
Not too much oil, as you will get a lot when the pork fat melts.
As soon as the oil is really hot, put several pieces  of pork into the pot. Enough to cover most of the surface, but not too much. Bring heat down to medium-high and brown all side. When the pieces are done, remove into a separate bowl and repeat with the remainder of the pork till all of them are done.
Depending on how much pork you actually get, this could take about a half hour.

Now with a pot of just hot oil and pork fat, throw you tomatoes, onions and garlic. Salt and pepper.
Then put your pork over that and cover and turn heat to medium.

Walk away. Have a beer or something. Watch the LA Laker's get their butts kicked by the 8th seed OKC. Have a smoke....something to keep you away from messing with the stew.

After about 20-30 minutes, go and check on your stew.
Has the liquid in the pot built up on it's self? 
If it did. Good going.
If not, then looks like you're going to need to boil some hot water.
*The medium heat should have drawn out the liquids from the tomatoes, onions more from the pork. Some time it needs a little help. By adding in about cup of hot water, this helps to coerce the ingredients to sweat out it liquids. The liquids in the pot at this point should be covering most of the ingredients.

( my best Martin Yan imitation.)
Put in your ginger and bay leaves.
Stir the pot until every thing is turned over.
And then.
Cover the pork with the Chinese long green beans.
Salt and pepper.
And then.
Put the Green Papaya over the green beans.
And then.
Salt and pepper.
And then.
Turn the heat to medium low.
And then.
You cover the pot, and walk away.

Leave it alone for about another half hour.
After about 30 minutes of really slow cooking, you should have a little more liquid in the pot. And your papaya should be starting to look translucent.
Turn the heat down to simmer, and leave the cover just slightly open to release most of the steam. You don't want to build up too much liquid.
*note~ I put in the ginger and bay leaves after the higher heat cooking process, because I don't want those flavors to be so dominant.

Make a pot of rice.

By the time your rice is done. The papaya should be translucent and soft to the touch.
If it's  not. Then it's not ready. Only when the papaya is done is the stew ready to be eaten.
Have some patience and it will be worth it.
I promise.

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