Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cigrons: Globalized

Since discovering the potential of cigrons (or garbanzos or chickpeas) in the famed Pinotxo bar in the Boqueria in Barcelona, Mr. Quail has invented brilliant ways of incorporating these "peas" into dinnertime. And while I still enjoy them in hummus or (low brow alert) the salad bar at Charlie Brown's Steakhouse, I devour his versions with werewolf-like gusto. Below, Mr. Quail reveals his latest--Globalized Cigrons.

Note: Picture Not Available (alas, meal eaten too fast).

♦ 2 thin, boneless pork chops, pounded to 1/4 inch and marinated in dry rub for minimum of 40 minutes (Dry rub: salt, pepper, ancho chile powder, sugar, fennel seeds, chopped garlic, celery salt)

♦ 2 cups collard greens, stems removed, julienned
♦ 2 cloves chopped garlic
♦ Handful raisins
♦ Handful toasted pine nuts
♦ Pinch toasted and crushed fennel seeds
♦ Olive oil
♦ 1/2 cup dry vermouth
♦ 1/2 cup chicken stock
♦ 1 can Garbanzo beans (feel free to soak and cook your own, but it works fine with the canned stuff. I like Goya because they undercook their beans a bit)
♦ 1 leek, chopped
1 rasher bacon, chopped
♦ 2 cloves garlic, sliced
♦ 2 tbsp semi-sweet smoked paprika (pimenton)
♦ olive oil

That's a load of ingredients, isn't it? That's not all; this dish incorporates at least four, perhaps five global cuisines. It was composed in three parts: the pork chop (a mix of Mexico and Vietnam), the collard greens (Brazil and Sicily), and the beans (primarily Spanish.)

It starts with the beans, frying the leek, garlic, and bacon together in a fairly generous amount of oil, adding a touch of salt and pepper (pay attention to salt, though - if your stock is salty, go light.) Once the leek has softened and the garlic and bacon have begun to color a bit, add the pimenton, the chile and the beans. Let this fry just a little, and then add the stock and stir a bit. Let this simmer for a good 40 minutes or so until the liquid is mostly gone and the beans are tender and seasoned throughout. Feel free to add more stock if necessary, this part is forgiving. And just this part alone is insanely delicious, if you do it right.

Second, in a separate pan, fry on medium heat the garlic for the greens in a little oil (I know, it's ridiculous to have garlic in each component, but trust me here.) Just as the garlic begins to color, toss in the collard greens, raisins, pine nuts, and crushed fennel seed. This is the Sicilian component, minus anchovies, which are too salty for this dish. Let this soften the greens a bit, and then add the vermouth. Once this cooks out, add the stock. In all, this should cook for roughly ten minutes. You want the greens to be tender, but not mushy. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Third, the pork chops. The real work of this one was done in the ingredients list, pounding it flat and marinating in a flavorful dry rub. Just add a touch of oil into the empty greens pan, turn the heat up to medium-high, and toss in the pork. The sugar and ancho chile will make it brown spectacularly, and this will be done after a minute or two per side, no more.

The dish is plated by layering the beans on the bottom, setting a pork chop on top, spreading the greens around the pork, and sprinkling some fresh chiles over the top (we had some fresh red chiles of indeterminate type in the fridge, but it's not vital to have these.) The combination of richness from the pork and beans, heat from the chiles, and the sweetness from the leeks and raisins balances quite well. This is a seriously flavorful dish, just like your Mexican/Vietnamese/Spanish/Brazilian/Sicilian ancestors liked it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I read this post while eating breakfast - man, is oatmeal not cutting it right now. WANT TO EAT THE CIGRONS.