Breakfast was a huge part of my growing-up years. If the ‘Cosby Show’ was a special evening event for everybody, eating and having an egg paired with freshly brewed coffee (it was still relatively new to me) and longganisa was a matrimonial celebration. However, there were mornings that really didn’t flash that picture perfect plate on the table. Canned corned beef and sometimes, sardines were the only easy, ready-to-prepare meals available in the cupboard. I enjoyed those too together with the boundless and endless variety of dried fish and ‘dilis,’ also only available in Southeast Asia, but at worst, pork and beans would be served. When that happens, I’d be hoping I’d find the pork in all those beans, and when I do it was usually just a dime size cut of a pork belly. That became a butt-of-a -joke in school and at home as advertisements flooded the TV for that particular brand. Well, after all those years, I just realized it was really joke. It should have been renamed as ‘Beans in Tomato Sauce’, or ‘Beans in a Can.’ It became a definite challenge to many to spread all the beans on the plate and find the ‘pork,’ and as a play, only find a couple in the game. I pity those with poor eye sight at a young age who had a difficult time finding the pork. Anyway, whoever had two or more was the winner. Most times, I’d find one stuck at the bottom of the can; clinging in all those fat that crystallized in time and whatever other ingredients mixed with it that made it so stickily delicious. Today, I serve beans (still in cans) with Franks. I just discovered that Franks & Beans were special for many Baby Boomers at this side of the world as it was to my childhood years in Manila.
Filipinos don’t exactly have the inclination towards eating beans as much as South Americans do. Eating excessively fatty pork though is more appropriate and fitting to their diet and palate (as to many Spanish influenced colonies) despite its hazardous impact to health. Callos is similar to Pork & Beans, but with all the fat and cartilage from the pig’s feet and tripe more than the beans, and the beans an optional ingredient; an exact and definite opposite of the Pork & Beans many Filipino kids learned to love and grew up with. Moreover, based on pure observation, many Filipinos tend to eat Callos as part of their mains with rice, and with deadly ingredients as such, it should be eaten cautiously or even sparingly. I clearly recall Callos for dinner too and I really didn’t realize it was Callos until the household help told me. I felt it was Menudo again for the third straight night (glad it was not adobo) so that I’d eat my supper. I treat Callos similar to Tapas; served in small plates with wine or a glass of beer.
This is my interpretation of Callos a la Madrilena. I still have that urge and that drive to return to Spain and to Europe in general and hopefully make it in an annual event, and cooking something familiar to take me there temporarily makes me a happy man. I know that won’t happen until later; much later.
- Pig’s feet
- Honeycomb Beef Tripe
- Spanish Chorizo, diced
- Garlic, diced
- Spanish onions, chopped
- Crushed Tomatoes
- Roma Tomatoes, chopped
- Pinto Beans (Optional)
- Pimenton Picante or Spanish Paprika
- Saffron Threads or Saffron Powder
- Ground Blackpeppercorns
- Sea Salt
Boil the pig’s feet and honeycomb tripe until tender. Set aside and let cool. Chop the pig’s feet into half and remove the skin and cartilage. Chop the tripe in bite size pieces.
Heat a pan with olive oil, and start browning the chorizos. Saute the garlic and onions on the same pan until aromatic. Add the crushed tomatoes and boil to simmer; about five to ten minutes. Dump the pig’s feet and tripe into the pan followed by the Roma Tomatoes, Pimenton, Saffron and ground blackpeppercorns. Boil to simmer one more time and add the beans before serving.
It took me about two hours to boil the feet and tripe. I also added some aromatics much like a broth just to add more flavour (and reduce the foul smell in the process). Again, this is simplicity at its finest with the best and freshest ingredients to raise the bar of an offal.
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