Special occasions call for special food preparations. The birthday celebration of a friend Zenaida whom her close pals in London call Dido (pronounced Daydu for some “naughty” reasons not yet disclosed to me :-)) is one of such occasions that’s why lots of sumptuous dishes were prepared and served when she reached the ripe age of 39. (I wrote that while giggling). Among the many exceptional Filipino foods feasted on by her numerous friends and guests were of course the always hit “cuchinta a la Lalaine” and the very special dish called “embutido” which astonishingly is called “morcon” (a relatively different rolled meat dish in reality) in our towns in Batangas and Quezon provinces in the southern Luzon Philippines.
Quite kindly (probably made helpless by my persuasive power :)), Lalaine agreed to share her secret “embutido” recipe (which she learned from a former admirer (lol)) and feature a step by step process here for the many Filipinos who love the dish and would like to do it for their next family occasion. So while Lalaine treated Dido and their friends with her delicious “embutido” during the blissful birthday bash, I and you, dear readers and net-friends of this humble blog, will be treated with the knowhow of preparing the dish “a la Lalaine” not only for a day but for eternity.
As a disambiguation though, Filipino “embutido” is a type of steamed meatloaf made from minced pork, minced or grated vegetables and lots of spices. In the Spanish, Brazilian and Portuguese contexts however, an “embutido” is a generic term for sausages found in Spain, Portugal and Central and South America which contains hashed meat (usually pork), infused with the flavors of aromatic herbs and spices (such as black pepper, red pepper, paprika, garlic, rosemary, thyme, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, etc.) and served wrapped in the skin of pig's intestines. True, it is more like the Filipino native sausage called “longanisa”.
Filipino “embutido” is truly a special dish and being one, needs quite a lot of extraordinary (and common) ingredients. This fact is probably one of the reasons why the dish is not an everyday-type family dish. In the Philippines, the chance of dining with “embutido” is rather limited; only during festivals or town “fiesta”, important family affairs like weddings, baptisms, anniversaries and of course birthday parties (like Dido’s celebration), significant holidays like Christmas and New Year and important gatherings of relatives, friends, office mates and the likes.
The long list of ingredients as prepared by Lalaine was headed by minced pork, “Be Inspired” as the new slogan of the National Pork Board (USA) goes to promote the tasty swine’s meat. For some sorts, pork formerly known as “the other white meat” really does inspire people …… especially in the Philippine dining tables where it is widely eaten …… and yes in the Congress where it is extensively spoken. :-)
To complete the line of ingredients were a combination of UK’s and Philippines’ fine produce and products (from the perspective of a Filipina foodie) such as onions, garlic, carrots, red or green bell pepper or capsicum, green peas, pickle relish, raisins, hotdog or sausage, fresh farm eggs, catsup, soy sauce, tomato sauce, liver spread or liver pate’, cheddar cheese, butter or margarine, freshly ground black pepper, salt, MSG (only if you like) and the last but certainly not the least, Lalaine’s secret potion when it comes to “embutido”, skimmed milk.
All you have to do is to mix all the above ingredients, encase in a foil, steam and serve. That’s it! :-)
Just kidding! That’s not very Reel and Grill. In this website, we will always try to give you the exact quantities of the ingredients and detailed process as we actually undertake it, supplied in clear and vivid color. For this post, the images were painstakingly captured by Lalaine and her new beau that she now sleeps with ………… a Cannon SLR camera. :)
The chief process involve in this dish is properly mixing the right amount of ingredients. To ensure that proper measurements and preparation are carried out, Lalaine used some important kitchen tools – kitchen scale and food processor. However, don’t feel sad if you don’t have them ……… I also don’t and besides, you can still make a wonderful “embutido” even in their absence.
In a wide mixing bowl (and I mean really huge one) dump the star of the show, 2 and ½ kilograms (about 5.5 lbs) minced pork with 80-20 lean to fat ratio. Prepare then add in the first four supporting stars composed of 2 medium carrots, fine mincing would have been better but since Lalaine was in a hurry, she was compelled to go with easy grating using her reliable food processor, 250 grams or 1 small pack cooked green peas, 150 grams or about 1 cup sweet pickle relish and 200 grams or about 1½ cups California seedless raisins. Combine and mix all the ingredients.
Prepare the next four supporting ingredients namely 4 medium onions, minced, 2 large red bell peppers, seeded and minced, about 5 jumbo hotdogs or frankfurters, finely diced and 200 grams liver pate or when in the Philippines the ever-reliable and everyone’s favorite Reno liver spread, 1 tall can. Again, mix all the ingredients properly. Just go on mixing, it’s a good arm exercise.
Be ready with the next batch of stars comprising of ½ cup butter or margarine, 1 cup grated cheddar cheese and the promising 400 grams skimmed milk. Additionally, prepare 150 ml or ½ cup + 2 tbsp catsup (of course banana-type for most Filipinos), 150 ml or ½ cup + 2 tbsp soy sauce and 100 gram or about 1/3 cup tomato sauce. Add these other ingredients as well as about 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper and about 1 tbsp iodized salt or as always, according to taste.
In processing meat mixtures such as this, it can never be complete without the good tasting and at the same time bonding agent called eggs. Lalaine initially intended to use seven only but eventually increased to ten during the final mix adjustment. Add the eggs in and continue with the tedious process of exercising cum mixing. :-)
Continue stirring until the right consistency is attained. Taste and adjust the seasonings and condiments. At the end, it is of course according to your preference. When you are satisfied, stop and confirm your satisfaction by rolling and flatting small patties and nicely frying them. If they turn out good, you are in for a wonderful “embutido” experience. Otherwise, fine tune the seasonings until you get the taste that basically explodes in your mouth, whatever that cliché means. :)
If Lalaine is in Padre Garcia, Batangas, her favorite and well-loved town, she will be using the fragrant banana leaves (not to mention that Dido would be more elated seeing one) but since she is now a trendy Londoner, it is fitted that she uses the dull-smelling but really handy aluminum foil to encase the mixture. :-)
In a large piece of foil, spread some butter or margarine, placed about 1 cup of the meat mixture and carefully rolled it into about 1 and ½ inches diameter log. Carefully close the end and finish into nice cylindrical meatloaf.
Repeat the process for all the remaining mixture. You will be able to get some 20 pieces “embutido” for this preparation. Maintain equal sizes for better …… make that gourmet-like presentation.
Using several layered steamer like the old but good steamer of Lalaine with about 10,000 “cuchinta” productions per annum in its record, steam the “embutido” logs in batches under moderately boiling water for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Steam-cook the rest over the same amount of time.
To serve, unwrapped the “embutido”, cut it lengthwise, lay cut-side down and slice into about ½ inch thick sizes. Garnish as you like, top with banana or tomato catsup and serve with lots of steamed rice.
As intended, the “embutido” were served during the birthday party of Dido where, like the popular “cuchinta”, it became an instant hit. The guests, mostly friends and some dudes which according to Dido are her former boyfriends were treated with lots of delicious dishes prepared by Dido and company and other fares shared by her friends like “kare-kare”, “lumpiang Shanghai”, “laing”, “pancit palabok”, “sisig” and of course “sinaing na tulingan” of Batangas (Philippines) to mention some.
With such a variety of tasty food laid on the dining table complemented with continuously flowing drinks served on the side and added with the comic antics of the celebrant herself, everybody had a blast and could only wish that everyday is Dido’s birthday.
But of course, Dido would not agree to such. Otherwise while her friends are joyfully celebrating each day, she will be over-ripe in two week’s time. :-)
This post is long I know ……… but for a dish as amazing as “embutido a la Lalaine”, it is worth the time and effort reading. Enjoy! c”)