May 18, 2011

Beans: Mexican and Serbian way

Today's post is about ethnic folk cooking and one healthy ingredient.
So what is so common in pots of two geographically very different and far apart countries: Mexico and Serbia? You guessed: beans!  
As a tribute to superhuman-like, unbeatable tennis played this year - Novak Djokovic, here is one very popular recipe from his home country. French call similar dish Cassoulet, but it is smoked pork hock and ribs, that give this meal a special authentic Serbian flavour.
The best is to serve it with a fresh coleslaw - made also Serbian way - shredded cabbage dressed with only salt, oil and vinegar. Trick is, before putting oil and vinegar over, cabbage must be "tortured" with bare hands for a couple of minutes like when punching a dough, until water starts to come out of it. That way cabbage becomes very soft.

The other recipe is my version of Mexican chili, but made with cactus leaves. If you are in the mood for a real "taste of Mexico" in your home, this is the right family dish to enjoy!  It is not always easy to find cactus leaves in stores, so you might omit it. Chili will still taste great. 

And, yes, pick the best clay pot that you have for these dishes. It makes a difference!
As you can see, I always use my La chamba deep pot to cook any type of stew-like dish.




Serbian bean casserole










Recipe:

1 lb/500 g pinto or romano beans
1lb/500g smoked pork hocks, ribs and smoked dry sausage
1 onion,
4 cloves of garlic + 3 chopped cloves for the end
1 tsp paprika
salt, pepper
3-4 l of water

Soak the beans over night in a cold water.
Boil the beans in water two times and after each time trow away the water. Leave the beans aside until you prepare the meat.
In a clay or other deep pot, saute chopped onion, garlic and cut pieces of smoked meat for about fifteen minutes. Add beans, and saute for five more minutes without a water. Add cold water and heat up until boil. Steer and lower the temperature. Cover with a lid and cook for about two hours, or until the beans are cooked but not too soft. Take out two tablespoons of beans and mash them. Return the mash to the pot and steer, add paprika, salt and pepper  and chopped garlic and cook for about 1 more minute.
Serve in a deep plates with coleslaw or ajvar salad.




Cactus chili




you can see pieces of cactus in


Prepare cactus just before cooking: wash it and cut out a needles completely. Than cut it in a 1 inch (2-3cm)pieces.

Recipe:

1lb (450 g) almost cooked dry beans, or 2 cans of cooked red and pinto beans
1 big can (450g) of peeled tomatoes,
1 lb (450 g) ground lean beef or turkey
1 chopped yellow onion,
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cactus leafs (cleaned and sliced into small squares)
1 cup brown rice,
1/2 cup vine (water can be replaced),
1 jalapeño pepper chopped and unseeded
1/2 bell pepper chopped
3 garlic cloves chopped,
1 tbsp chopped parsley,

1 tbsp chopped cilantro
juice of 1 lime

Heat the oil in a deep clay pot and saute onion and garlic until translucent. Add ground meat, and cook until become dark and separate in small pieces. Add cactus and peppers, and cook for five more minutes. Add tomatoes, beans, rice, vine, parsley and water (if needed) to cover all ingredients and cook until rice and beans are not chewy (about half an hour). At the end add cilantro (don't go crazy with it if you're not a big fan) and lime and turn off the heat. Let it stay covered for a few minutes. Serve.