Alex and her friend, Chesca, arrived late last night for an unexpected visit. They slept over, no one got up for breakfast and, by lunch time, I knew that everyone could use a substantial meal.
This was the lunch I prepared. A hearty stew with a blend of subtle flavors. A simpler version of caldereta, actually. I browned seasoned pork steaks in a cast iron skillet, added vegetables, broth, tomato and lechon sauces, and let everything cook slowly for the better part of an hour. Pork steaks can be from any part of the animal. For even cooking, however, I recommend that they be similarly sized and be no more than three-fourths inch thick. I used pork belly, bone in, but you can use pork chops too. For better flavor, use a pork cut with some bones. Like I always say, the flavor is in the bones.
For non-Filipinos, lechon sauce is a sweet-tangy sauce made with mashed pork liver and traditionally served as a dipping sauce for lechon. It is available in bottles. If unavailable, liver paté or canned liver spread may be substituted — just dilute in a little broth until of pouring consistency.
- 4 to 6 pork steaks
- salt, pepper and a little cayenne powder
- 2 large potatoes, cut into wedges
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 carrot, cubed
- ⅓ c. of sweet peas
- 2 tbsps. of sliced black olives
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ c. of tomato sauce, preferably homemade
- ½ c. of lechon sauce (I used bottled)
- ½ to ¾ c. of meat broth
- Sprinkle both sides of the pork steaks with a little salt, pepper and cayenne.
- Heat a cast iron skillet. If you’re not using a cast iron skillet, you may have to coat the bottom of the pan with a little oil.
- Arrange the pork steaks in a single layer. Cook over high heat until the underside is lightly browned and the pork has rendered a little fat. Flip to brown the opposite side.
- Scatter the potato wedges, onion slices, crushed garlic, carrot cubes, olives, bay leaf and peas over the pork steaks. Sprinkle everything generously with salt and pepper.
- Pour in the tomato sauce, lechon sauce and ½ c. of meat broth. Bring to the boil. Lower the heat. Cover and simmer for 45 to 50 minutes. There is no need to stir.
- If the liquid dries up before the meat and vegetables are done, add the rest of the broth. Taste occasionally and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.
- Note that there will be very little but thick sauce by the end of cooking time. If you prefer a more saucy stew, add more broth. I have to say though that too much broth and you might end up with a soup rather than a stew.