In this titillating episode we meet the main character of Cactus Crest.
He’s a meaty character!...The bones and marrow of our little story.
No really, he is the bones and marrow of this story and specifically this dish.
And before you get squeamish, before I translate espinazo, let me start by saying that this is what is going to give your stew it’s wonderfully deep flavor.
Ok, so espinazo translated is neck bone.
If you live by a Mexican Market you can ask for it by name (es pee nazo).
They’ll definitely know what you’re talking about and might start speaking Spanish to you really fast until they see that confused look on your face, like I get, and then they’re not as impressed as they were the moment before.
But don’t let that discourage you…I never do. Ask them for 2 lbs of neck bone or “Dos libros de espinazo”, look at you…you are so bilingual!!
Then you’re going to ask them for “dos libros de trocito de Puerco”…or
2 lbs of stew cut pork. (don’t forget to roll your Rs…”rrrrrrrrrrrrr”)
**Now here’s a clever little trick…if you find pork shoulder that week on sale this will also do.
Just cut it into cubes like you would for any stew.
If your butcher doesn’t have neck bones any back bones or shanks will do as well.
You’re basically using for flavor unless you like bone and maybe want to sharpen your teeth later.
Now then, take your bilingual meat and bones home.
Throw them in a pot and cover with cold water just an inch or two above the meat and bring to a simmer (only allowing a simmering boil…only a couple bubbles every so often).
After the first half hour of the proteins breaking down and you skimming impurities, throw in ½ an onion, a clove of garlic (or two), and a bay leaf and just let that meat come to a slow simmering boil for about an hour and a half.
During this time you should skim any foam that comes to the top periodically to give yourself a clearer broth.
Make sure your meat is always submerged adding cold water slowly if needed.
Senor Espy Nazo is a laid back character, he likes taking things slow…so give him time to do his thing.
And don’t stir him up, let him be the chill guy he is.
(If you let your meat roll boil it causes the fats and impurities to emulsify into the broth and cloud up your broth.
The slower method allows the bones to release their wonderful proteins, giving it that deeper flavor).
Check your meat for tenderness before adding the other ingredients.
While the meat is cooking you can work on the other parts to this stew…
Tune in tomorrow for the next
episode of Cactus Crest –
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