Filipino Bicol Express

It has been weird in some ways not sharing a weekly recipe creation with all of you. Fortunately, however, my family was able to disconnect (well except for my kids and their darn devices) and take a week long road trip. Where you may ask? Tennessee, the whole state and wow was it a blast. I think, and I hope we got so much in during the week. I went down on a mission, a different one than my wife and probably kids for that matter, and that was to try some of the best barbecue and fried chicken I have ever had; hands down ever. In summary Rendezvous ribs and barbecue nachos, Gus’s Fried Chicken, Peg Leg Barbecue ribs (got the last rack and it was only noon (they opened at 11)), and Hatti B’s Nashville hot chicken. So with that said, I’m ready to share with you a great recipe, and one that has some heat to it, much like Hatti B’s!

Bicol Express is a Filipino dish that finally has some heat to it. Don’t get me wrong here, I love pretty much any Filipino dish that has come my way, but I’m always questioning in my mind ‘Do they not use any heat when cooking?’.

This is the perfect answer to that question. I love how the Filipino’s use vinegar, garlic, and lots of black pepper in some of their dishes, and that is right up my alley, but this recipe has me. It’s a stew with very simple ingredients. It’s comforting. It has the perfect heat, and is great served alongside rice.

Filipino Bicol Express Recipe
Filipino Bicol Express Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 lb pork belly, cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 4 tbsp roasted shrimp paste (this stuff stinks but brings such umami)
  • 1 whole onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 14 fresh chilies (Thai Bird, Indian Green Chile, or Serrano) of your choice, stems removed, chiles sliced in half
  • 2 cans of coconut milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • cooked rice, optional

Start by heating a medium sized pot (you will cook everything in this pot) on medium heat, then add the oil. Once the oil comes to temperature, add in the cubed pork belly.

Cook the pork belly, turning along the way, until all sides become browned.

Once the pork is browned, add in the onions, garlic, and ginger. Give a good stir, and continue to cook for about 3 minutes or so.

Next add in the shrimp paste. Turn on your vent on high as this stuff has some funk (good funk), and continue to stir. Toss in the chilies, stir again, then add in the coconut milk.

How to make Filipino Bicol Express
How to make Filipino Bicol Express

Bring this to a simmer, and cook for about 1 hour, on low, stirring along the way.

Before serving, taste and season with any salt or pepper.

Now you are ready to dig in. I like to serve with a small bowl of rice to the side, along with a soup bowl of the Bicol Express. This dish is rich, creamy, spicy, funky, and overall totally comforting and right up my alley. Don’t be scared of the chiles as you can eat around them. The chilies overall bring that subtle heat to the dish overall, but if you are searching for a bit of that chili punch when eating, go ahead and bite into them! Hope you enjoy, and it’s great to be back!

Jalapeno Stuffed Lumpia

Gosh, I do love jalapeno poppers, don’t you? I love the actual surprise, not only with the piping hot cheese but the uncertainty if the jalapeno is going to be on the mild side, or the hot side. I prefer the hot side. With that said, Filipinos are notorious for making really awesome egg rolls, what they call lumpia, or lumpia shanghai.  My wife introduced me, or should I say her family introduced me to these styles of egg rolls. Their wrappers are crispy, and inside is an array of things such as ground pork, potatoes, small shrimps, and green beans.  This is how my in laws make them, and one that I often make for my family, only with this exception. The exception being the fact that I had four large fresh jalapeno peppers on my cutting board, just staring at me and wanting me to do something with them. That’s when I figured I would try out some new egg roll, or lumpia wrappers, and instead of going the classic lumpia way, I decided to stuff some and fry them up. Were they excellent? You bet your butt they were.

Jalapeno Stuffed Lumpia Recipe
Jalapeno Stuffed Lumpia Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of egg roll wrappers
  • 1 lb ground pork, cooked and cooled
  • 4 jalapenos, stems removed, cored and seeds removed
  • 1 russet potato, skins removed, cubed and cooked until just tender
  • 2 cups of cooking oil (I use canola)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste

Gently fold the cooked, cubed potatoes into the cooled pork mixture. Season with salt and pepper, and give a gentle stir.

Take one cored jalapeno pepper, and using a small spoon, stuff the meat mixture, gently packing it in, into the jalapeno. Fill it to the top, and repeat with the remaining peppers.

Reserve the remaining meat mixture for making more lumpia, or use more jalapenos and repeat the process with however many you would like. Again, I only went with four as I knew I would be the only one eating the ones with peppers.

Next, take one egg roll wrapper and lay out with the point in front of you, can towards you.

Place the stuffed jalapeno pepper, about a quarter way, in the middle, closest to you. Fold the sides over, take the point closest to you, and begin to roll, bringing in the sides if necessary. Refer to this image if needed. Roll just about 90% to the top, then brush the point with the beaten egg. Roll and seal.

How to make Jalapeno Stuffed Lumpia
How to make Jalapeno Stuffed Lumpia

Do the same with any remaining pork mixture, using about 1/2 cup per lumpia.

Heat the oil in a small pan, and bring to a medium heat. Once heated, add a few of the lumpia and cook until the wrappers are a golden brown.

Remove the lumpia with some tongs or chopsticks, and place them onto a paper towel lined plate to remove any excess oil.

Continue cooking the remaining lumpia.

Let these cool for a few minutes before digging in. I plated mine on a bed of lettuce, sliced in half to expose the delicious pork, and showered the plate with some roasted peanuts.

Grab a cold beer or glass of wine, and dig into these jalapeno stuffed lumpia. I hope you enjoy!

Smoked Ham

I’m probably getting excited, not only because it is Spring time, or at least getting close, but probably because Easter Sunday is near. Unfortunately this year much of the family will not be around and no one will be able to get together to enjoy an Easter Sunday feast, hence why I had glanced in my freezer only to find a small ham I had found on sale some time ago. I love ham, don’t you? It’s probably my son’s favorite, maybe both of my kids, and to me, there is nothing better than a ham that is plated on a table. The big question is, is why do we typically only make ham once or twice a year?

When I saw that ham, I knew I could go the standard route and bake it, but I wanted to do something different, plus I wanted to bust out the smoker, and hence why I now had that smoked ham.

Smoked Ham Recipe
Smoked Ham Recipe

This is so easy to make, and the smoke adds a great additional character to the ham. Did my family love it? Yes! We actually ended up eating it for three days straight.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ham (I use the butt end)
  • 1/2 cup of yellow mustard
  • 1 cup of light brown sugar
  • cherry wood for the smoker
  • water pan for the smoker

Start by rubbing the ham with the mustard. The yellow mustard will act as the glue for the brown sugar.

Next, add the brown sugar, and massage it onto the ham. Let the mixture sit on your plate as you prepare your smoker.

When I smoke, I use charcoal as my ignition, and chunks of cherry wood as my smoking agent. I also have been using the Smokenator for well over a year now, and love it. But whatever smoker you use, have at it.

Smoked Ham Recipe
Smoked Ham Recipe

Once the charcoal is lit and nice and grey, add the wood chunks and water pan, and set your ham over the indirect heat on the grill. Cover, and cook for about three hours at 250 degrees.

After three hours, remove the ham from the smoker, wrap it in a couple of sheets of aluminum foil, and place into a 300 degree oven until the internal temperature of the ham is about 140 degrees. I do this in a two step process as to not only get the great smoke flavor from the grill, but to also have it finish and be nice in tender in the oven.

Once the temperature has reached 140 degrees, remove it from the oven, and using a sharp knife, cut it into thin slices, or your desired thickness.

Now you are ready to serve. The subtle smokiness of the cherry wood really had my kids, all of them, coming back for more. Again, we ate the ham for dinner three nights straight, and even my kids loved it so much they were making ham sandwiches for their lunches, plus I had plenty of leftover ham to freeze. I’m sure I’ll be serving it again during the Easter holiday.

If you are looking for a nice smoked ham, give this one a shot. That mustard and sugar combination, along with the cherry smoke, really made this smoked ham shine. Enjoy!

Italian Style Pulled Pork Sandwich

Do you love sandwiches? I know I do and as a matter of fact I really was craving a BLT the other day, but you know what, tomatoes are just not in season here. This sandwich however is in season as it is comfort food season! This one is the Italian style pulled pork sandwich, and one that screams comfort, and as a matter of fact my kids devoured this sandwich and came cruising back for another one.

Italian Style Pulled Pork Sandwich Recipe
Italian Style Pulled Pork Sandwich Recipe

The pork is slow cooked in a great tomato based mixture until fall apart tender, then served on some crusty bread with melted provolone cheese and sauteed greens. What’s not to love!

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 lb pork shoulder, fat trimmed
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp dried red chili flakes
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, stem removed, finely chopped
  • 1 whole head of garlic, finely diced
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 1 whole yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups of beef stock
  • 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of rapini
  • 2 cups of fresh spinach, tightly packed
  • 1 cup additional beef stock
  • salt, to taste
  • cracked black pepper, to taste
  • bolillo rolls, to your serving
  • Chicago style sport peppers, optional
  • 2 slices provolone cheese, per serving

Start by making your rub for the pork. To a small mixing bowl, add the fennel seeds, red chili flakes, chopped rosemary, parsley, and garlic. Give a good mix, and season with some salt and pepper.

Add the pork shoulder to a large cast iron skillet, or dutch oven, large enough to hold all of the broth and tomato mixture. Make sure it is fat side up.

Add the garlic mixture to the top of the pork shoulder. Next pour around the shoulder the beef stock, add the crushed tomatoes, bay leaves and onions.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and let the pork shoulder rest on the counter as the oven heats up. Your goal here is to build a nice crust, then either cover with foil and reduce the heat to 300 degrees and braise for 2-3 hours, or what I did was simply transfer everything to a slow cooker, covered it and forgot about it until the next day (I recommend this approach as it was like butter).

Once the oven is heated, add the pork, and build a nice crust, about 25 minutes or so. Next, carefully remove from the oven, then place in a slow cooker, on low, and cook for about 10 hours or so. I simply did this overnight.

Ingredients for making Italian style pulled pork sandwiches
Ingredients for making Italian style pulled pork sandwiches

Now let’s make the greens. To a stock pot, add the rapini and spinach. Give a pinch of salt and crushed red chili flakes, and the additional cup of beef stock. Bring to a simmer, stir, and cover, cooking until the greens are completely wilted. They will not be pretty, but they are super delicious, and great for you to boot.

Now let’s make the sandwich. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Slice your roll, but not all of the way through. Layer in the cheese, and place in the oven, cooking until the roll is crusty and the cheese is nice and melted. You want a crusty roll here as when you fold in the pulled pork and greens, it gets pretty darn saucey. You’ll see. It’s like the best gravy for swiping your sandwich into.

During this time shred the pork. It should simply fall apart. Once shredded, mix everything together. Remove the roll from the oven, then add some greens, fold in the pork mixture to your liking, and top with a couple of sport peppers. I liked adding the peppers as that vinegar and subtle heat cuts through that savory pork.

Eat this one over a plate people as that pork is so super juicy and it will run out all over your plate. This sandwich is a real homerun, feeds a ton of people (We ate it for two days and I ended up freezing a ton of it), and is super delicious. Hope you enjoy!

Italian Style Pulled Pork Sandwich
Author: 
Recipe type: Sandwiches
Cuisine: Italian Style
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15
 
Ingredients
  • 3-4 lb pork shoulder, fat trimmed
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp dried red chili flakes
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, stem removed, finely chopped
  • 1 whole head of garlic, finely diced
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 1 whole yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups of beef stock
  • 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of rapini
  • 2 cups of fresh spinach, tightly packed
  • 1 cup additional beef stock
  • salt, to taste
  • cracked black pepper, to taste
  • bolillo rolls, to your serving
  • Chicago style sport peppers, optional
  • 2 slices provolone cheese, per serving
Instructions
  1. Start by making your rub for the pork. To a small mixing bowl, add the fennel seeds, red chili flakes, chopped rosemary, parsley, and garlic. Give a good mix, and season with some salt and pepper.
  2. Add the pork shoulder to a large cast iron skillet, or dutch oven, large enough to hold all of the broth and tomato mixture. Make sure it is fat side up.
  3. Add the garlic mixture to the top of the pork shoulder. Next pour around the shoulder the beef stock, add the crushed tomatoes, bay leaves and onions.
  4. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and let the pork shoulder rest on the counter as the oven heats up. Your goal here is to build a nice crust, then either cover with foil and reduce the heat to 300 degrees and braise for 2-3 hours, or what I did was simply transfer everything to a slow cooker, covered it and forgot about it until the next day (I recommend this approach as it was like butter).
  5. Once the oven is heated, add the pork, and build a nice crust, about 25 minutes or so. Next, carefully remove from the oven, then place in a slow cooker, on low, and cook for about 10 hours or so. I simply did this overnight.
  6. Now let’s make the greens. To a stock pot, add the rapini and spinach. Give a pinch of salt and crushed red chili flakes, and the additional cup of beef stock. Bring to a simmer, stir, and cover, cooking until the greens are completely wilted. They will not be pretty, but they are super delicious, and great for you to boot.
  7. Now let’s make the sandwich. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Slice your roll, but not all of the way through. Layer in the cheese, and place in the oven, cooking until the roll is crusty and the cheese is nice and melted. You want a crusty roll here as when you fold in the pulled pork and greens, it gets pretty darn saucey. You’ll see. It’s like the best gravy for swiping your sandwich into.
  8. During this time shred the pork. It should simply fall apart. Once shredded, mix everything together. Remove the roll from the oven, then add some greens, fold in the pork mixture to your liking, and top with a couple of sport peppers. I liked adding the peppers as that vinegar and subtle heat cuts through that savory pork.