I was having a bit of a dilemma with trying to stretch out my budget and make the most out of one main ingredient to cover breakfast, lunch, dinner and my son’s lunch bag. As it is, having to cook all 4 meals in one day can just drive a single mom insane. Especially when time, energy and money are of constraints. It was already a battle with chicken breast fillets or some pork cutlets. Then again I got to thinking of ground pork! A kilo of ground pork can go a really long way with a few good dishes and not having to buy too many ingredients. I decided to get half and half of ground pork and ground beef just to kind of cheat on the flavour.
I started off with burger patties with mushroom gravy, which was already a real hit for my son’s lunch pack as well hamburger patties for his sandwich bag the next day. My mom isn’t really big on hamburgers so I made them into Almondigas. This is a soup dish of Spanish origin made of meatballs and very fine noodles or vermicelli. I thought of adding a local vegetable gourd chopped evenly to make it more hearty. And since I was on a roll of making meatballs, I made enough for sweet and sour meatballs too. I love anything that is sweet and sour so, this one had my name on it. And just to stretch that sweet and sour sauce a little bit more, I made some Shanghai Spring rolls or popularly known as the Filipino Lumpia.to go with the sauce to dip them in.
At this point I was pretty much proud of myself! I had enough more ground meat to make it into spaghetti and meatballs as well! Cabbage rolls were next in my meal planning. So far, my mom and my son haven’t really noticed much of my sneaky evil plans and I’m just glad I was armed with some creativity that day.
I am down to the last bits of ground meat and I must say I’m fresh out of ideas. And then, I had an epiphany when I saw some plantains being sold by a local veggie cart vendor. I wanted to make some Arroz a la Cubana. It is derived from Arroz Cubano which means Cuban style rice, It is a popular dish in the Philippines, most likely handed down by our Spanish ancestors, but is also known in Peru. Spain’s version will has it with white rice, tomato sauce and a fried egg. In Peru, it consists of white rice topped with a fried egg, fried bananas and a fried hotdog.
In the Philippines, we just have to take this to a whole new level of a gastronomic cultural experience. The Filipino’s take on this dish calls for sautéed ground pork or beef with some diced potatoes and carrots, green peas, and simmered in some tomato sauce. It is served with fried plantains and a sunnyside up egg on hot white steamed rice.
I have to confess this dish had me from the word go when I first tasted it as a young child. I don’t cook it as often but I love it any meal of the day!
ARROZ ala CUBANA
Steamed or boiled rice
1/2 kilo ground beef (use sirloin or top round)
3 carrots, cubed
3 potatoes, cubed
1/2 c. of sweet peas
2 bell peppers, chopped
2 tbsp. of raisins (optional)
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 large onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 c. of tomato paste
finely chopped parsley
pinch of basil
3 tbsp. c. of olive oil
1/4 c. vegetable cooking oil
salt and pepper to taste
6 eggs, fried sunny-side-up
8 Plantains , each sliced diagonally into 3, fried
1.Heat a heavy skillet. Add 1/4 c. of cooking oil. Heat to smoking point. Add the cubed potatoes and carrots. Fry until the edges turn a light brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
2.Pour off the oil from the skillet. Pour in the olive oil. Add ground beef, breaking it up. Cook over high heat until the meat is no longer pink. Add the garlic, chopped onions and tomatoes, bell peppers and raisins, if using. Cook, stirring, just until the vegetables start to soften. Add the tomato paste, salt and pepper. Stir to blend well. Add the sweet peas. Stir and cook for another 30 seconds then put the carrots and potatoes back in. Cook for another 30 seconds. Add the basil and parsley. Give it one last stir then turn off the heat.
3.Serve with rice, an egg and fried saba bananas on the side.
Photo Credit: Koleksyon.com
Photo Credit: Proyecto de cocinero