The pochero has something for everyone. It has beef chunks, Spanish chorizos, a rich tomato sauce broth, bok choy or Chinese cabbage, potatoes, seasonings, and more.
For years the pochero defined our Sunday family meals. Sundays in our home when I was a child, were celebrated with big meals and the family seated at the table, enjoying each others’ company, giving thanks for our blessings. We were not interrupted by the tv, phone calls, or running off to a sports event on a Sunday. These were unheard of, heaven forbid, and my dad would not have approved. My parents stressed on the importance of being together for Sunday meals and enjoying a lavish dish, cooked extraordinarily by my mom.
The pochero (say ‘poh-che-roh’ ) was always a mainstay. It was tomato-sauce based, clearly the Spanish in our Filipino family meal. There was always a large casserole in the middle of the table. It was accompanied by a side of eggplant salad, mashed roasted eggplants seasoned with garlic and red onions. I never loved eggplants more than this moment. But I had a favorite side to the pochero. It was the sweet, ripe, banana plantains, or what we called ‘saging saba’ (say ‘sah-ging sah-bah’) boiled and plump, waiting for all to grab one.
I’m making pochero for our Christmas meal. It will have everything for everyone. It will have the hearty yet tender beef chunks and spicy chorizos for the carnivores. There will be green, leafy vegetables mixed in with potatoes and carrots. There will be a thick broth of tomato, both sweet and slightly tart, that will go best with the heaps of fragrant white rice all our meals have. Best of all, this pochero will hold all the memories we hold dear – of family times together, on Sundays, holidays and Christmases. No other dish comes this close to connecting our family’s past to the present.
- 3 to 4 pounds beef stew cubes
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 6 cloves minced garlic
- 1 large chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 3/4 cup tomato paste
- 6 to 8 cups beef broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper powder
- 2 large pieces each about 4 to 6 ounces, sliced Spanish chorizos
- 4 medium pieces peeled, quartered potatoes
- 1 large peeled, sliced carrot
- 1 cup sliced green beans
- 2 cups washed, ends trimmed, coarsely sliced in 2-inch pieces bok choy or Chinese cabbage
- 1/2 cup chopped, for garnish scallions or green onions
- 6 pieces fully ripened, boiled separately, for serving (from Asian markets) banana plantains or Filipino saging saba
- for serving boiled jasmine white rice
- Pre-marinate the beef pieces in the Worcestershire sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
- In a heavy stock pot, over medium high heat, add the vegetable oil and saute the garlic, onions and celery. Pan fry the Spanish chorizo slices for 1 to 2 minutes to flavor the oil, then remove the chorizos and set aside.
- Add the beef chunks, and pan sear for about 5 to 8 minutes till beef gets brown.
- Add the tomato sauce and paste. Blend in the beef broth and stir well so the tomato sauces are incorporated. Season with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders. Let the broth boil for 1 to 2 minutes, then lower heat to a slow simmer over a medium to low flame. Cover pot and cook on slow fire till beef chunks are soft and fork-tender for about 2 hours. Keep stirring every 20 to 30 minutes so the ingredients don’t stick to the bottom.
- In the last 30 minutes of cooking, add the potatoes and carrots. Cook them for about 20 minutes till they soften and blend in the tomato sauce flavors. Add the green beans and let this cook for 8 minutes. Finally add the bok choy and cabbage, which will take 3 to 5 minutes to soften. Add in the chorizos which were pan seared earlier. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve hot with boiled banana plantains on the side and fragrant jasmine white rice.
- Cook's Comments: When I'm in a panic and don't have enough time, I plan this dish ahead. I cook the beef cubes ahead like I did this one in the photo. I pre-boiled the beef in my slow cooker or 'crock pot', set on 'High' for 6 hours till it was soft and tender. Cooking it stove top in the amount of time suggested in this recipe works well, too. You can add any other seasonal vegetables to this pot of stew and it will be just as wonderful.
- Recipe Notes: I buy banana plantains from the Asian grocery and cover them in a brown bag to ripen fully. Then when I cook them, I boil the bananas with the skin on in a pot of water, for about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the thick skin and serve the boiled bananas as a side to this Beef Pochero.
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