A few months back we had our cousins over for dinner. It was really a potluck event, and as they make really great pasta dishes, we were fortunate to encounter a Filipino dish that I have never tried before. It was a casserole dish filled with pork, potatoes, and red bell peppers in a tomato sauce, that was not too thick, and not too thin, but just the perfect consistency. I had lots of questions for my cousins about how to make it, what else goes in there, and were there other versions that included seafood or chicken. They were somewhat short and sweet with me, and I really did not get a whole lot of information from them, so I had to ask my go to Filipino buddy, my father-n-law. When I said I’m making afritada today, he quickly quizzed me and said “Oh yeah, how are you making it?’. I quickly had my arsenal of ingredients that I listed off, and was pretty much spot on, but he said to make sure I got the vinegar right. Now I don’t know if you realized this, but a lot of Filipino meals have vinegar in them, and I am really starting to enjoy that vinegar flavor.
This dish is really easy to make, almost too easy, and the results is a stew that served alone, or with rice, is not only a great family style meal, great any time of year, but one that is perfect for leftovers. Let’s get started.
- 4 tbsp of olive oil
- 3 potatoes, peeled, and cubed (I use Yukon Gold)
- 2 lbs lean pork loin, cubed
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 vidalia onion, chopped
- 1 cup of tomato sauce
- salt, generous pinch, to taste
- pepper, generous pinch, to taste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 tsp dry oregano
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- 1/2 cup of spanish olives
- 8 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 large red bell pepper, rough chop
- 1 cup of frozen peas
- 3/4 cup of water, or more
- Cooked rice, optional
So based on the ingredients, you might already begin to sense how this is going to taste. The olives, peas, tender pork. You get it. I’m hungry just typing about it. Anyway, begin by heating a few tablespoons of the oil to a larger pot. Bring it to temperature before adding the potatoes. You will want to keep the potatoes moving around until they become tender and brown, roughly 10 minutes or so. They will continue to cook later when we bring everything together. After they are brown, and somewhat tender, remove them onto a plate and set aside. Add more oil, and toss in your onion s and garlic, and cook until these become tender, being careful not to overcook the garlic.
Toss in your pork cubes, and begin to cook until you brown all side of the pork. You goal is to get a nice tender bite of the pork, and the loin, generally tender as is, can get tough on you if done wrong. Cook it nice and slow at this point, lowering the heat to medium low, and continue to cook. Season with salt and pepper and give it a good stir. Next add in your tomato sauce, the oregano, leaves, vinegar, and 3/4 cup of the water. Give a good stir. Toss in the olives, and return the potatoes back into the pot, continuing to stir. Cover and reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 45 minutes. Uncover and add in the peppers and peas, cooking for about another 15-20 minutes on simmer. Check the sauce. You want plenty of sauce, but not a soup, and you want it to be on the thinner side. Use your judgment, and add more water if need be, continuing to come to temperature.
Now you are ready. You can plate this family style on a bed of rice, or on a large platter with rice on the side. Seriously guys, a great take on a stew, and if you have never tried a Filipino dish, give it a shot.