eat. Back in the 1980s when I lived with a gaggle of ex-college buddies, we used to take turns cooking dinner. One of Tom’s favorite dishes to prepare was called calabacitas, which means little squash (calabaza) in Spanish. It’s the perfect student fare: filling, and made with cheap ingredients (when in season): zucchini, corn, onion, and pork shoulder.
I had a couple large zucchini that my friend Julie had given me,
so I decided to make a pot of Tom’s calabacitas for dinner last night. (No, Robin couldn’t eat it, alas. But I gotta eat too, right? She had TFS (i.e., that [expletive deleted] soup), and we ate our respective meals while watching Dexter do his dastardly deeds on the bad guys. We had decided not to turn on the Giants, after the last two miserable weeks of games, and learned only this morning that they actually won. But then they lost again today.)
Back to the calabacitas: Take some pork (any cut will work, but shoulder works great, as it’s inexpensive, and has enough fat to add good flavor),
remove the big pieces of fat, and cut the fat into tiny pieces and the lean into 1” cubes:
The first thing I do is render the fat, by frying it over medium heat in a heavy skillet, to release the fat from the tissue:
It takes a few minutes, and when you’re done you have fat for later use (keep it in the fridge),
as well as some crunchy bits (crackling), which you can either salt and munch on as a snack with your cocktail while you prepare the calabacitas, or you can top your tacos with them. (I did both.)
While the fat is rendering, cut the corn kernels off the cobs (or you can use canned, if it’s not corn season),
and cut your zucchini into bite-size pieces.
Once your fat is rendered and drained off, brown the pork in the same skillet, and then add your spices: chili powder, garlic, cumin, S&P, and whatever else you want (I didn’t have any onions on hand—a normal ingredient in the dish—so made due with onion powder):
Here’s the meat with the spices added:
Now add enough water to cover the meat, and simmer it for at least an hour.
Add more water if it cooks away. When the meat starts to get tender,
add the zucchini,
and the corn (and chopped onions, which I didn’t have):
Stir the veg into the meat, and continue cooking until they are done (about 10-15 minutes):
As I noted above, the calabacitas are best served with warm tortillas and grated cheese. You could also top them with sour cream, salsa, and/or cilantro.