Friday, October 9, 2009

Callos in the land of typhoons

Whiling away the time post-Ondoy found me trying to deal with the stress that the news carried and thinking about how lucky we were with our own situation, with nary a drop of water causing any damage.

As I finished watching yet another public service program, I turned to the net and found an earlier Callos post in the 80 Breakfasts blog.  I realized I had decided to give this recipe a try and in fact had a few packages of good-looking ingredients in the freezer.  (I once again realize how food-obsessed I am when I regard frozen meat as 'good-looking.' ....just like prawns can be sexy and tomatoes, voluptuous. But the meat was, in fact, just that...clean, neatly packaged NZ tripe and oxtail...good-looking)

Until then, I was still a callos virgin but I was determined not to die as one...picturing myself on my deathbed, whispering in a hoarse voice,  a lone tear rolling down my cheek...'my one regret in the kitchen is not giving myself the opportunity to cook a good pot of callos.'  The priest looks on sadly and continues the sacrament he's there to perform.  Rather morbid, this scene but I'm happy to say it exists only as a faded recollection of what might have been...I have seen the light, sliced the tripe and simmered the first attempt was, if I may say so myself, in my own inimitable and humble way...FANTASTIIIIQUE!!!

Years of eating it, reading recipes about it, tasting wonderful versions of it (our friend Boyong Baytion's version stands out) and scoffing at terrible attempts at it, have culminated in the 3 day version I just made and enjoyed.  The inspiration came from the post I mentioned above plus the many years of side comments Isca has let loose on how much she loves the stuff.

The callos of my mother was the template in my mind.  Tripe with ox feet simmered in a tomato-ey broth, chorizo, bell pepper and chick peas swimming amongst the meat, we would eat it with a dash of tabasco and a cucumber salad on the side.  Again, one of those comfort food meals we remember fondly.

Well, I've waited this long and wanted to make sure I got it right the first time.  In the spirit of Total Quality I started the process that took 3 days to complete before it starred on the dinner table.

There were, I thought, several flavor boosters which I noted in the post that I read on 80 Breakfasts.  There was the slow cooked and reduced broth..the same broth used to soften the tripe and oxtail, getting an additional kick of flavor with the addition of Majestic (ham) hambones.  It also called for a load of roasted and peeled bell pepper which added another layer of smokey flavor in the background. Cayenne pepper was a surprise - then I realize it saves time instead of putting tabasco yourself, haha.  This warm spice wasn't obvious in the first sort of subtly crept up behind the familiar callos taste melange, lending a pleasant and gentle nudge of chili.  Then the familiar paprika, tomato, chorizo combined with the textures of well-cooked (good looking) unctuous tripe and oxtail as well as garbanzos. Very well put together.

On the second day, I felt it was going to be a homerun so I prepared a batch of pain a l'ancienne dough...which I baked the next day as the pot simmered on the stove. 

Aahhh, the land of typhoons, or anywhere, for that matter.

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