Philippine Melange of Meats and Vegetables with Eggplant Sauce recipe, Filipino Recipes

This dish is traditionally known as pochero.  It is wonderfully heart-warming and substantial, perfect for entertaining.  However, like most classic, country-style dishes, it demands time and care in its preparation.  In the Philippines, it appears at fiestas as well as at family gatherings.

Prep: 30 mins.  Cooking: 1 hr 45 mins.  Serves 8.

Ingredients for Melange:

  • 1 lb each chicken thighs and breasts, skinnde and cut through the bone into smaller pieces (thighs in 2, breasts in 4)
  • 1 lb of pork loin or butt, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/3 lb smoked ham, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 Portugese sausages (chorizos or hot Italian sausages may be substituted), each cut into 3 pieces
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 small firm white cabbage, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 plantains (cooking bananas), peeled and sliced into 1-inch thick disks
  • 3 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 canned tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup of canned garbanzo beans, drained

Put the chicken, pork, ham, sausages, and bay leaf in a large saucepan.  Season with salt and pepper and por in enough water to cover the meats.  Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer the meats for 45 minutes.

Uncover and remove the meats to a plate with a slotted spoon, draining them over the pan.  Discard the bay leaf.

Put the cabbage and potatoes into the liquid remaining in the saucepan and bring to a boil again.  Cover, reduce the heat to medium, and cook the vegetables until the potatoes are fork-tender but still compact.  Strain the vegetables from the stock with a slotted spoon and set them aside.  Strain the stock through a sieve lined with muslin cloth or a strong paper towel.  Set aside 1 cup of the stock and reserve the remainder for future soup base, if desired.

Put the plantain slices in a small saucepan, add enough water to cover them, and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the bananas are tender but not mushy.  Drain them and set them aside with the vegetables.

Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat and fry the onions and garlic, stirring, until the onions are soft.  Stir in the tomatoes abd salt, reduce the heat to medium-low, and let the mixture cook, stirring from time to time, for 10 minutes.  Increase the heat to high, pour in the reserved stock, and bring to a boil.  Return the meats to the pan,n add the vegetables and bananas, and stir in the chick-peas.  Heat everything through; then transfer to a deep serving bowl and keep warm in a low oven while you prepare the Eggplant Sauce.

Ingredients for Eggplant Sauce:

  • 3 small Japanese eggplants, stems removed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tbs white vinger
  • 2 tbs water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat the broiler and, placing the eggplants on a rack, put them close to the heat source, turning until the skins are burnt and blistered.  Test  the eggplants to see how soft they are.  If they are not completely cooked, turn the oven to 300ºF and bake them until they are soft enough to mash. (Microwave ovens will shorten this process.)

Peel the eggplants, chop them roughly, and then put them in a blender or food processor, together with the remaining sauce ingredients.  Blend to a fine purée and transfer to 2 small bowls.  Bring to the table with the Pochero.

Tip:  Plantains can be bought in Latin markets.  If you cannot obtain them, substitute sweet potatoes, which do not need to be trated separately but may be cooked with the other vegetables.

You may take a shortcut and use a small (8-oz) can of tomato purée instead of the whole tomatoes.  Some Filipinos prefer the dish to be more strongly tomato-flavored and increase the amount of tomatoes.  In the same manner, the national Philippine predilection is for vinegared dishes and many will add more vinegar to the sauce, deleting the water.  It’s up to your taste what you do here.

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