Having moved from a large city (Santo Domingo) a few years back, one of the things that I like the most about PuntaCana is the sense of old-time community. It helps that none of us is from here, we all have to build support networks and lean on friends for help once in a while. Having left a one-horse town in my childhood I thought I would never willingly return to small-town life. Was I ever wrong?
Like in the days of yore I have found myself sometimes bringing foods for my friends and neighbors. At this pace I will soon be known as the Cookie Fairy.
My neighbor B is an avid baker too. Lucky us. Once in a while she shows up with yummy things she’s baked. I got a pot of gazpacho from Aunt Ilana on Monday (yes, we are also neighbors), and I dropped off cupcakes for another friend’s birthday yesterday. I am also probably one of the most popular moms at my daughter’s class, seeing as I sometimes bring cookies for the kids.
Cooking is a pleasure meant for sharing. Am I ever glad I don’t have to battle traffic for an hour to do so.
I had promised you to bring you this recipe a few weeks back in an post I wrote about odd names in Dominican cuisine, so I grabbed my reusable shopping bag and went to get the ingredients for it. Luckily it did not contain any odd ones. So, I made a giant pot of this stew and called Aunt Ilana’s husband to tell him I had some for him.
This dish hails from the Cibao region, more specifically from the Moca – Seybo region. If you’ve met Aunt Ilana’s husband, Pedro, one of the friendliest people I’ve known, you probably know that he calls himself “a mocano“, despite the fact that he was born in Ciudad Colonial. This was my chance to call his bluff. Not surprisingly he had never heard of this dish. “Not surprisingly”, I say, because I don’t think that even many “real” mocanos have heard of it.
Anyway, I got Pedro’s seal of approval, which together with my husband’s is worth, I don’t know… two cents?
- 3 lb [1.36 kg] smoked pork chops
- 3 corn on the cobs
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion cut into eighths
- 1 cup of tomatoes, cubed
- ½ cup cubanela (cubanelle) peppers cut into 1" x 1" squares
- 1 small carrot, sliced
- ½ cup celery stalks cut into slices
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 2 cups of auyama (West Indian pumpkin) cut into cubes1 sprig coriander chopped
- 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
- 1½ teaspoons of salt (or more, to taste)
- ½ teaspoons of pepper (or more, to taste)
- Separate the meat in the pork chops from the bones. Get rid of the excess fat and cut the meat into cubes. We'll use the bones to add flavor and you can remove them right before serving
- Using a sharp knife cut the corn from the cob, making sure not to go too deep as the corn is very fibrous and tough. The knife should slide down easily. Be careful not to cut yourself, fingers are not part of the recipe. Boil the corn until it is very tender, you can shorten the cooking time by doing it in a pressure cooker. It takes about 40 mins in a conventional pot, and about 20 in a pressure cooker.
- Heat the oil over low fire in a heavy aluminum or cast iron pot. Cook and stir the onion and garlic until the onion starts to become transparent.
- Add the pork chop, it should start releasing some liquid, when all of it has evaporated add the tomatoes and cubanela peppers and cook and stir for a couple of minutes, careful that it doesn't burn. Add the carrots, celery, garlic and auyama. Add enough water to cover all the solid ingredients. Add the boiled corn and cilantro and boil over medium heat until everything is cooked through.
- Take out half of the squash, mash and return to the pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with arroz blanco. Some agrio de naranja goes great in it.
This is best made with tender, freshly-cut corn, but I couldn't find those, and probably neither can you, so I adapted the recipe to the corn on the cob commonly found in supermarkets.