The first time I tasted pochero was during a lunch party at my uncle’s house in Cebu. I think that was like more than 15 years ago. Even if it was that long ago, I haven’t forgotten it because it was that memorable!  When I came back home to Manila, no one knows how to prepare it so I haven’t had one since then and ended up dreaming about it once in awhile.

Finally, I’ve had enough reminiscing of that unforgettable pochero meal so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I consulted the all-knowing Internet and found some good recipes and tips.

Pochero of Luzon (not to be confused with the bulalo-like Cebuano pochero) is a dish akin to the Spanish cocido. However, ours is probably more similar to the South American version of cocido (like the sancocho) with the use of plantains or saba (left).

There are two ways to prepare this dish: the first one is what I refer to as the Simple Pochero; and the other is the Fiesta-style Pochero (which has two courses). The latter was the one I had in Cebu years ago, and you only serve it when you have plenty of guests for lunch or dinner.  Since I wasn’t having guests for lunch today, I chose to make Simple Pochero (maybe I can try the Fiesta Pochero in the summer… Woo-hoo!).  Besides, since I’m just a beginner, I thought I’d practice first with the simple version.

For today’s Sunday Lunch Project #4, I chose Panlasang Pinoy’s recipe of beef pochero (Thanks, PP! – You’re MY Julia Childs – haha!):

I did exactly what PP said in the vid.  It was also my first time to cook beef, and understandably, I stumbled a bit with the cooking process. PP said it can be cooked for an hour and a half and of course, the naïve little me believed him.

I ended up cooking the meat for 3 hours before it became tender!  Oh, the pitfalls of being a novice… I even placed a metal fork in the broth (don’t ask me why or the purpose of it because I have no idea, too) but it didn’t do anything to speed things up.

Boil, Boil, Toil and Trouble (Right): Hmm, a pressure cooker seemed like a good investment right now.

Another slip-up was I kept adding too much water since it had been boiling for a long time.  The broth was beginning to get too thin and bland.  I replenished it with more tomato sauce and a beef bouillon cube to be sure.

I started out at 9 am but ended up eating at half past 1. Of course, we were famished by the time it was finished…

Sinful, tempting yumminess: Oh, all that artery-clogging goodness! But I made sure I placed lots of vegetables in the hopes of negating that vast sea of cholesterol. Heehee…

My SLP # 4:  The simple beef pochero. It is best when served with a side dish of eggplant-squash salad as shown in the above pic.  Pampatanggal ng umay, I learned.  To make it, I boiled  eggplants (peeled) and squash. I mashed them with a fork and added minced garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper.

So. Was my Beef Pochero a hit or a miss?

Answer: Despite its being an unhealthy dish (something to be enjoyed once in a blue moon), I consider it a hit! I enjoy eating it without rice. I use bread like pandesal instead to mop up the broth from my plate.  The garbanzos, chorizo and vegetables tasted really good in all that red tomato-beef broth.

1 Feb 2010 Update: I made quite a big batch that we ended up eating it for two days! But it was worth it. Besides it tasted better the next day when all the flavors were infused together. Oh, but my poor liver! Heehee. I savored every morsel of it since it’ll probably be a long time before we have this dish again. But I don’t think I’ll wait another 15 years though for that to happen. 🙂

Postscript: Thought I’d reward myself with a break from SLP. So next Sunday is my day-off from cooking. Yay! Besides, I’d rather gear up for Feb. 14 with a Chinese inspired lunch for a double celebration of the Chinese New Year and Valentine ’s Day… See yah!

Next on Sunday Lunch Project – Hainanese Chicken Rice (SLP#5)

Previous SLP Posts:
Sunday Lunch Project #3: My Dad’s Karimbuaya Chicken
Sunday Lunch Project #2: Yakiniku
Sunday Lunch Project #1: Thyme-Lemon Roasted Chicken
Pochero info source: marketmanila.com
Eggplant-Squash Side Dish recipe source: theeatingroom
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