Friday, March 28, 2008

Callos ala Madrilena

I've mentioned that being under Spanish rule for 300 years has left an indelible mark on Filipino culture. This dish is another testament to that.

I grew up with my mom's Callos frequently gracing the buffet table during special occasions like Christmases and birthdays. As a child, I often skipped over this dish and gravitated toward more mainstream fare like pasta and fried chicken and lechon. But as I got older and my tastebuds matured, I began to appreciate the complex marriage of the tripe, chorizo and ham, slowly simmered until the flavors became one. It's been a while since I've had my mom's Callos...years and years and years. But the memory has been imprinted in my culinary consciousness.

I was walking around the grocery one day, and lo and behold, they had lots and lots of tripe! Cleaned, parboiled and packaged ever so neatly, they called to me and gave me the perfect opportunity to finally try my hand at making one of my mom's specialties. After I bought the tripe, off to the Latin market I went to buy fresh chorizos and a day later, there it was.

I didn't have a recipe so I cooked it al oido (which literally translates to by mom uses this phrase a lot to mean just play it by ear/just wing it/make it up as you go along...anyway, you get the idea). It turned our really well. Really, really well. And there was A LOT of it. Much more than what our family of four could consume. Besides, the 2 kids weren't crazy about tripe. It was seredipitous that a day later, we were going to Tito O and Tita M's house to celebrate Lola H's 96th (!!!) birthday. So I brought this huge container of Callos and it became part of a wonderful celebration, just like the Callos of my childhood.

Callos ala Madrilena

400 g beef tendon, sliced into 1-inch pieces
500 g tripe, cleaned and sliced into 2 inch long strips
3 pcs. chorizo (sliced if using canned/dried, removed from casing and crumbled if using fresh)
1-2 cups chopped ham
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 red pepper, diced
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 can tomato paste
1 can whole tomatoes
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. chili flakes
1/2 cup grated sharp cheese
1 cup green olives, drained
2 tbsp. knorr seasoning
1-2 cups beef broth
1 large can chick peas/garbanzos, drained
sugar to taste
salt to taste

1. In a large, heavy pot, saute the onion and pepper in the olive oil until soft.
2. Add the chorizo and saute until it renders it fat.
3. Add ham, paprika and tomato paste.
4. Add the tripe and tendon and saute for a couple of minutes.
5. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, pepper, chili flakes, knorr and pepper.
6. Cover with a tight lid and simmer slowly for 4-5 hours, until the tripe and tendon are very tender. Check every so often to stir and make sure that it doesn't dry up. Add beef broth as needed just to keep the sauce going.
7. When tender, add garbanzos, olives and cheese. Adjust seasoning with salt and sugar.
8. Simmer for 15 minutes more to help all the flavors meld together.

The seasoning of this dish will depend a lot on the flavor of the chorizo that you use. I was lucky enough to find fresh chorizo. But I'm sure canned or dried chorizo would taste just as good. The amount of salt you will need depends on how salty the other components of the dish are, so wait until everything is tender and adjust your seasonings then.

Sugar is something that I think many people underuse when cooking savory dishes, especially tomato-based ones. Vine-ripened tomatoes are very sweet and when picked at the peak of their flavor probably would not need any additional sugar. However, I find that canned tomatoes lose a lot of that sweetness and they often do not have that balance of sugar and acid. So I often will add a pinch (or more) of sugar to many of my tomato-based dishes. Of course this is a matter of preference and if you don't like any hint of sweetness in your savories, just omit this ingredient. You will regret it though. Hehe!

1 comment:

Mia Castrillo said...

Hmmm... Looks good! I made callos too last January for our wedding anniversary and I think it turned out pretty well too. As long as Mier was satisfied, I'm happy. :-)