Having spent my birthday weekend in Lisbon, I came home nostalgic to some of my countries forgotten recipes. Today's recipe is not a particularly southern dish, but arriving in London to this cold, wet and utterly dreary weather, I was reminded of my winter's in Porto. You will see Rancho on menus all over the north of Portugal year round. The definition of rancho in Portuguese is; food for a large quantity or group of people.
Truly fitting as this is a crowd pleasing dish. Classic recipes like this one might very well get forgotten with the passing of generations, food trends and to be honest, the fact that modern life has made long braising and elaborate dishes unpractical. These recipes were meant to be filling and hearty and to tenderise cheaper cuts of meat. Today's generation might shy away from such an elaborate or heavy recipe, yet long to taste that chilhood favourite, like I have. Traditional Rancho calls for pigs' ears and trotters, but I do not care for those cuts. They also can be a bit harder to source nowadays in the grocery store. My recipe, which I have re-named Rancho Moderno, meaning modern, will have all the integrity of the original, and be made much faster, using leaner cuts of meat, without jeopardising any flavour. I used chicken, pork, beef and some traditional Portuguese smoked sausages, including presunto. It's simply Proscuitto in Portuguese. Available in any good Portuguese grocer or online. Feel free to substitute for Italian or Spanish varieties of presunto or chouriço if you can't find it. Make sure to have some warm crusty bread to mop up the sauce. This recipe serves 8-10 people, but if you need to feed less, feel free to halve the recipe. It makes great leftovers for lunch the next day.
Rancho com Grão e Couve Moderno ❦ Stewed Meat with Chickpeas, Cabbage and Elbow Macaroni
1 hour Start to finish
* I make this in 2 pots instead of 1, as I feel a one pot method dilutes the sauce too much. The pasta is still cooked in the beef stock in order to absord all it's lovely flavour.
400 g. Pork tenderloin, cut into bite size cubes
250 g. Beef, cut into bite size cubes
3 Free-range Chicken thighs, skin on bone removed and reserved.
125 g. Chouriço, outer skin removed and sliced into thin rounds
125 g. Portuguese black chouriço or morcela, sliced into thin rounds
125 g. Smoked presunto, bacon, proscuitto or jamón, cubed
500 g. Elbow macaroni
2 Cans Chickpeas, drained
1 Small Savoy cabbage, about 8-10 leaves, harder bottom stalk removed and cut into small pieces. See picture below.
300 g. Carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds (roughly 4 medium carrots)
2 Potatoes, peeled and cubed
250 ml. Tomato passata
200 ml. Dry white wine
6 Cloves of garlic, 1 whole, 5 roughly chopped
4 Bay leaves
60 ml. (2 tbsps.) Red wine vinegar
120 ml. Extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tsp. Sweet paprika
1/2 tsp. All spice (trust me)
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
1 Bunch flat leaf parsley, stalks finely chopped and leaves chopped and reserved to garnish/serve
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Crushed red chilli flakes to taste (optional)
1. In a large stock pot, add 60 ml. of extra virgin olive oil, 1 whole clove of garlic and 2 bay leaves, and on high heat add cubed pork, beef and chicken, skin side down. Salt generously. Fry until meat is browned. Add chouriço, black chouriço, presunto and the chicken thigh bones. Add 3 litres of water and let boil for 30 minutes on low/medium heat, covered. After 30 minutes, remove meats with a slotted spoon and reserve. Discard bay leaves and chicken thigh bones. Sieve stock to remove any little impurities and return stock to pot.
2. In another large stock pot add remaining 60 ml. of extra virgin olive oil and on medium heat add onions, chopped garlic, bay leaves, chopped parsley stalks and paprika. Gently sauté for 5 minutes. Add meats, carrots and potatoes. Add nutmeg and allspice. Add tomato passata, red wine vinegar and white wine. Add ladle fulls of reserved meat stock to cover everything by 2 inches or so. Add chilli flakes if using.
Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed.
3. Let cook covered until potatoes are cooked, about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, add cabbage and let cook 10 minutes. Meanwhile bring reserved meat stock back up to the boil. You should have about 2 litres left. Add macaroni and cook until al-dente, about 8 minutes. While pasta cooks add chickpeas to meat pot. Drain macaroni and add to meat and stir to incorporate. Stir in chopped parsly. Serve immediatly.