In 2003, I posted a recipe for picadillo that was such a far cry from the traditional. Instead of ground beef, I hand cut stewing beef into small cubes. And, instead of adding potatoes OR chayote to the beef, I added potatoes, carrots AND chayote. It’s been our standard picadillo recipe since. Until yesterday.
We were in the supermarket two days ago and Sam asked if I could cook picadillo during the weekend. I was a little surprised. Sam does not like beef — not since she saw newly slaughtered cows in the wet market. So before answering her, I confirmed first if she really wanted picadillo because picadillo has beef in it. She said no beef. Use pork instead AND upo (bottle gourd). Okay, I said. Not traditional but when have we ever been traditional with our food?
For lunch yesterday, I cooked Sam’s requested dish. And, to make sure that I was being fair to my girls, I cooked chicken teriyaki, one of Alex’s favorite chicken dishes, to go with the picadillo. We were halfway through lunch when both girls asked if I could pack some of the picadillo to bring to the condo. They liked it that much, huh? Well, I cooked a large pot of picadillo. So, why not?
- To prepare the upo, cut about half an inch off both ends. You may cut the upo into halves or thirds for easier handling. Using a small sharp utility knife, cut off the skin.
- Then, cut the skinned upo vertically into halves to expose the center. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds. Cut the flesh into half-inch cubes.
- Heat the cooking oil in a pot.
- Saute the onion and tomatoes. Do this over medium heat until the vegetables start to liquefy.
- Add the garlic. Saute for another minute.
- Turn up the heat. Add the ground pork to the pot. Season with fish sauce and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the pork is no longer pink.
- Pour in the broth.
- Add the upo cubes.
- Taste and add more fish sauce and pepper.
- Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for about ten minutes or until the upo cubes are tender.
- Serve hot.