Costa Rican Chifrijo

Costa Rican Entree

CHIFRIJO

INGREDIENTS – PICO DE GALLO

4 Roma tomatoes
1 medium white onion
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper (or ½ if you like it milder)
4 teaspoons lime juice
½ teaspoon salt (½ teaspoon more later)

INGREDIENTS – MAIN

1⅓ cups rice
1 pound pork belly*
2 garlic cloves
1 medium yellow or white onion
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil (2 tablespoons more later)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 15-oz can red kidney beans, drained
2 tablespoons salsa Lizano* or Worcestershire sauce

INGREDIENTS – FINAL

2 avocados
1 cup tortilla chips

* = Pork belly can be found at CostcoTM. They tend to sell in 5-to-6 pound packages. However, what you don’t use, can be sliced to make bacon.
* = Salsa Lizano can be found online and in ethnic supermarkets.

Serves 4. Takes 1 hour.

PREPARATION – PICO DE GALLO

Dice tomatoes, white onion, and cilantro. Seed and dice jalapeno. (Wash hands afterward. If you touch your face before washing, it will burn.) Put tomato, white onion, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, and ½ teaspoon salt in bowl. Mix with spoon until well blended.

PREPARATION – MAIN

Cook rice according to instructions on package. Cut pork belly into ½” cubes. Dice garlic cloves and yellow onion.

Add pork-belly cubes, garlic, cumin, pepper, and ½ teaspoon salt to small mixing bowl. Mix by hand until pork-belly cubes are well coated. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan. Heat olive oil using high heat until a tiny bit of garlic starts to dance in the oil. Add coated pork belly cubes. Sauté cubes for 10 minutes or until cubes turn golden brown and become mostly crispy. Stir frequently, especially so when they start to brown.

While pork belly sautés, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and yellow onion to pot. Sauté at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until yellow onion softens. Stir frequently. Add red kidney beans and salsa Lizon. Reduce heat to medium. Cook until beans are warm. Stir occasionally

PREPARATION – FINAL

Peel avocados and cut them in half lengthwise. Remove pits. Cut avocado halves into 4 slices each. Add equal amounts of cooked rice to 4 serving bowls. Top rice with red kidney beans and yellow onion,. Top red kidney beans with pork belly cubes (chicharrone). Finally, top chicharrone with pico de gallo. Garnish with avocado slices and tortilla chips.

TIDBITS

1) This dish uses Roma tomatoes.

2) Roma is Latin for Rome. The Romans had a word for everything.

3) The Roman legionnaires carried Roma tomatoes into battle.

4) When the Roman soldiers got close to the enemy’s forces, they’d hurl Roma tomatoes.

5) The tomatoes splattered on the faces of the opposing infantry. Tomato juice got into the eyes of the foe.

6) Clear-sighted Romans charged into the ranks of the blinded enemy. The professional Roman army would gain a decisive victory within minutes.

7) “LycopersiciSusceptibility et gladii,” “Tomatoes and Swords.” was the slogan of the Roman soldiers.

8) Indeed, early Roman emperors wore a purple robe with vivid red Roma tomatoes on it.

9) But in late 405, extreme frost conditions totally destroyed the entire Roman Empire’s crop of tomatoes. Barbarian hordes crossed the frozen Rhine River and plunged into the heart of the empire.

10) It had been quite a long time since the legionnaires had fought without tomatoes. They didn’t know how to fight without them. The confused Roman army could no longer hold the barbarian forces at bay.

12) So Rome lost battle after battle. The barbarian conquered everything. Mighty Rome was no more. This is why you should stock your pantry with tomatoes.

 

Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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