Homemade Pochero: A Taste of Comfort from a Homecook’s Kitchen

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One of the things I love most about Filipino cuisine is its rich history and cultural influences. Being a country that was colonized by different nations, our food has been greatly influenced by various cultures. One dish that perfectly represents this fusion of cultures is Pochero.

Pochero is a hearty stew dish that originated in Spain. The name “puchero” in Spanish literally translates to “stew pot”, which perfectly describes this dish as it is cooked in a pot with various ingredients. The dish was introduced to the Philippines during the 300-year Spanish colonization and has become a staple in Filipino households ever since.

Traditionally, Pochero is made with either chicken or pork, but in this recipe, I will be using pork. The star ingredients of this dish are the white beans or “bitsuelas” in our native tongue. These beans are often soaked overnight and boiled until tender before being added to the stew. However, there are alternatives such as using pressure-cooked beans or canned ones to save time.

The health benefits of white beans are plenty. They are a good source of protein, fiber, and essential minerals such as iron and magnesium. They also have a low glycemic index which makes them a great option for people with diabetes.

The next star ingredient is the sweet plantain or “saba” in our native language. Saba banana is a variety of banana that grows abundantly in the Philippines and is often used in savory dishes as well as desserts. In this recipe, we will be using semi-ripe saba, which adds a subtle sweetness to the dish while still maintaining its firm texture.

Apart from being delicious, saba bananas also have health benefits. They are a good source of potassium which helps regulate blood pressure and are rich in vitamins A and C which boost immunity.

Lastly, we have the sweet potato, which is considered a superfood due to its numerous health benefits. Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins and minerals, including beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body. They also contain antioxidants that help fight inflammation and promote gut health.

Now that we know the star ingredients and their health benefits, let’s move on to the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 kilo pork, cut into big chunks
  • 1 head of garlic, minced
  • 1 big red onion, chopped
  • 2 sweet potatoes, diced into big chunks
  • 2 potatoes, diced into big chunks
  • 4 pieces semi-ripe saba bananas, halved
  • 2 cups boiled white beans (or canned pork and beans)
  • 1 small whole cabbage, cut into four parts
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced into big chunks
  • Pork cubes (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Before cooking the pochero, soak the white beans overnight and boil them until tender in the morning. To save time, you can buy the cooked white beans in a bottle. You can also use canned pork and beans as an alternative.
  2. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat and sauté garlic and onion until fragrant.
  3. Add the pork and let it cook until slightly brown.
  4. Pour in 1 liter of water and bring it to a boil. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until the meat is tender.
  5. Add the boiled white beans (or canned pork and beans) to the pot and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.
  6. Add the diced sweet potatoes and potatoes to the pot and let it cook for another 5-10 minutes.
  7. Once the root vegetables are almost tender, add the halved saba bananas.
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste. At this point, you can adjust the water level in the stew. For added flavor, you may also include pork cubes, though this is entirely optional.
  9. Add the cabbage and red bell pepper to the pot and let it cook for a few minutes until the vegetables are tender but still have a slight crunch.
  10. Serve your Pochero hot with steamed rice and enjoy the delicious flavors of this hearty stew dish.

In conclusion, Pochero is not only a delicious and hearty dish but it also represents the rich history and fusion of cultures in Filipino cuisine. With its star ingredients of white beans, saba bananas, and sweet potatoes, this dish not only satisfies your taste buds but also provides numerous health benefits. So why not give this recipe a try and add a touch of Filipino-Spanish flavor to your next meal? Enjoy!


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