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Thursday, May 09, 2013

Migas da minha vovo

There's been so much to celebrate here in the First State.

I was - and still am - delirious about our victory for Marriage Equality. The very next day, we passed legislation which requires background checks as part of our effort to control gun misue and violence. And now, we're moving to change the death penalty law in this state.

Dayenu! It would have been enough, but as the Prophet Amos (5:24) wrote, justice rolls on like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

It won't come as a surprise to too many who know me that I think the best way to celebrate all of these justice milestones is with food.  Of course.  What else?

And, there's no more festive food I know that my grandmother's "migas". Actually, she called it "recheio" - literally, "stuffing". It was never the feature of any meal, but it was always on the table whenever there was a celebration.

It was there at every Christmas and Easter table - stuffed into the turkey or the rolled pork.

It was there in the summer - stuffed into the quahogs , with additional bits of the sweet clams chopped up and mixed in.

And, it always seemed to be there when I came home from school with a great report card.

I am convinced that, when I get to the Great Heavenly Banquet, there will be a table with great bowls of this stuff on every single table. 

So, in a festive mood of celebration I offer this recipe of my grandmother's dressing. Make a great pan of it for yourself and then enjoy.

This, my friends, is what the joy of justice tastes like.

Migas da minha vovo
1/4 pound thick-sliced slab bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch pieces.
1 pound chourico, linguica or dry-cured smoked spanish choirzo, roughly chopped
olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
6 - 10 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2/3 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons red pepper paste**
2 tablespoons double-concentrate tomato paste
12 cups 3/4 inch cubes of day-old rustic bread
About 2 cups beef stock plus 1 cup water or 3 cups store-bought low-sodium broth.
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring often, until the fat has rendered and the meaty bits are crisp, 12-15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels. Pour off all but a thin film of fat from the pot into a cup and reserve.

Bump up the heat to medium-high, add the chourico, and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 7 minuts. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a bowel. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat, addit it to the bacon fat. If the pan is dry, add 2 tablespons of olive oil.

Lower the heat to medium, add the onions, and coook until soft, 7-10 minuts. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute more. Splash in the wine, add the red pepper paste and the tomato paste, scrape up any stuck-on bits then let bubble for a few minutes to cook the mixture.

Turn the heat to low, add the bread and the reserved bacon and chourico fats, and pour in just enough of the stock water combination, beating well with a spoon, to make the mixture moise. If you use all the liquid and the pot is still dry, add water as necessary. Fold in the bacon and chourico and contnue beating to lighten the mixture.

Take a tase and season with salt and pepper if needed.  Scoop the dressing into a bowl and speckle with the parsley. OR - use as you would any other stuffing into a bird or roll into pork.

You may prefer to place in a glass baking pan and cook for a bit more in a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes or until the top of the stuffing is crisp and crunchy but the interior is moist and chewy.  This is my favorite way to eat it - sometimes I sprinkle shredded cheese on top.

If using for stuffing with quahogs, chop the quahog into bite-size bits and mix into the dressing when you add the bacon and chourico. Fill the quahog shell with the stuffing, place on a baking sheet and bake in a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes until the top of the bread is crusty.

** If you can't find red pepper paste in your grocery store, you can substitute tomoto paste, but really, once you taste red pepper paste, you'll always want some in your kitchen. It's a staple of all classic Portuguese kitchens.

Every cook is different, but some use fresh bell peppers, others use roasted peppers and still others use paprika. Rub some of it on beef, chicken, or strong-flavored fish, or toss it with peeled, halved potatoes and garlic before roasting and taste a bit of heaven.

Massa de pimenoao forte 
2 T sweet paprika
2 T sweet smoked paprika
1/4 cup dry white wine
10-12 cloves garlic, to taste
2 Turkish bay leaves, well crumbled
1 T double-concentrate tomato paste
1 1/2 T fresh lemon juice
7 springs fresh cilantro
5 springs fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 T kosher salt
1/4 t. freshly ground white pepper
a few dashes of piri-piri sauce or store-bought hot sauce, or, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil. 

Dump both types of paprika, the wine, garlic, bay leaves, tomato paste, lemon juice, cilantro, parsley, slat, pepper and piri-piri sauce into a food processor or mini cop and pulse until the garlic and herbs are minced. Scrape down any chunky bits from the sides of the bowl.

Pour in the olive oil and continue whirring until the paste is slick and homogenous, 1-2 minutes. Use the mixute immediately or spoon it into a small glass gar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate.

This will make approximately 1 cup and will keep for up to a month in the refrigerator.


JCF said...

Yum, sounds delicious! Would Asian-type red pepper paste work?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Well, JCF, I do admit to my cultural bias but I suspect anything that would give it that "kick" would work.

howdidIgethere said...

Would that the wisdom of those in the First State could travel across the border into Pennsylvania (the 3rd, except we call ourselves a Commonwealth -- HAH!)! We seem to be determined to remain true to the old description of "Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, with Alabama in between." Sign me more than a little envious, and very happy for Delawareans!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hey, Howdy (I've always wanted to say that).... I really thought the lower third of DE (AKA: LSD = Lower, Slower, Delaware) would ruin it for everyone else. They almost did. The 'nay' votes came from Sussex County. So, don't give up on the "'Bama" portion of PA. Let a few more states build up momentum, let DOMA and Prop 8 get struck down, and start working on it. It WILL happen. And, I think the IRS will eventually be the one to determine the final outcome.