Spanish-style Filipino Cocido is a dish from Betty Ann Quirino’s childhood. The ingredients were easily accessible in their new country and it provided comfort and familiarity to her family in a new and foreign country.
Betty Ann Quirino: My mom’s notes, my own recipe notes; these were my coping mechanisms. I did not know how else to feed my family, but through cooking family recipes.
Leigh Olson: Leaving your country of origin and settling in a new and foreign land comes with a lot of challenges. Traditions, customs, fashion, language, jargon and food…especially food.
Writer, artist, and cookbook author Betty Ann Quirino and her family left the Philippines in the 90’s for a work related opportunity to America. And without the ever-prevalent technological gadgets of today, connection to her family in the Philippines was extremely limited. So Betty Ann used what she knew would bring some semblance familiarity.
Betty Ann Quirino: My oldest son knew about America. He actually was very excited about moving, but my younger son needed more adjustment. He didn’t like the cold. He didn’t like when the snow was on his face. He would cry.
I did my best to get the family settled and feel like this was home. It took a couple of years for, for all the four of us to finally realize we were home. And food was a big part of it.
I had packed with me in my suitcases, my mom’s old cookbooks they’re dog-eared and yellowed and the original covers are falling off. Whatever cookbooks or notebooks I had were to confirm or validate that I was doing things correctly.
Leigh Olson: Welcome to The Heritage Cookbook Project Podcast, where we document and preserve heritage by connecting with cooks across the country who share food memories, family recipes and a little bit of themselves. And I’m your host Leigh Olson.
Betty Ann Quirino: My children were growing up in America and I think they wanted to be raised as Americans. So there was a lot of rebellion also towards tradition and things that I tried to teach them.
I used to make, um, lunches for them. And I was very mindful that they would also want to try and blend with the school with their friends. So I did not impose on them traditional Filipino food for for their pack lunches.
But at home every night for dinner, I would make sure that we sat together, no matter how busy the day was. We always sat together, had their meals together, prayed before meals. We would try to have Asian or Filipino food, which I always cook from scratch.
Leigh Olson: It was important to Betty Ann that her family was well fed and that the boys understood the importance of their cultural foods and preparing those foods.
Betty Ann Quirino: I made sure they knew how to cook, you know, like skills along with learning how to drive and washing their clothes and cleaning their room. They needed to learn how to cook.
Before they went off to college, before my eldest, went off to college, I started writing my recipes on a yellow pad which I always have on my desk and you know, I couldn’t give him my notebook cause I needed that.
My son said, what are you doing? Oh, you’re bringing this with you. I said this, these are my recipes. And my son, my oldest son said, mom, nobody writes anymore. What do you mean? I said, he said, nobody writes things on paper anymore. Not especially on a yellow pad. And he said, you need to start a blog.
I didn’t even know what the blog was. And I asked him what is it? And both boys said, okay, we’ll create one for you. You put your recipes there and your photographs and it’s up to you, mom, we’re not going to teach you anymore how to do anything.
So my goal was really to make sure my sons were well fed and, and they knew how they had resources.
Leigh Olson: Betty Ann discovered that the blog was not only a resource for her boys, but it became a way for her to document the dishes that she grew up with in rural Philippines and to share how she was and is able to find ways to create those dishes in her American kitchen every day.
Betty Ann Quirino: I grew up in a small rural agricultural town in the Philippines called Tarlac which is North of Manila. My mother was a home homemaker. And my father was a farmer at heart. He, you know, we had the farm and he grew produce and raised cattle and livestock. And that was the life I had growing up. My mother cooked every day from scratch, three meals a day.
My father’s rules as far as the eating was concerned and meals prepared, we could only meet, eat what came from the farm in the backyard. I’m actually surprised to see the term farm to table as a buzzword because that was the life I grew up with.
I remember as a little girl, it was my assignment to go and get the eggs from the backyard. I used to collect eggs for the day and put them in my little basket. And for years I actually thought that eggs were always brown. Brown colored shells.
Around the age of seven or eight, when my mother brought me to the city. I saw eggs were white, you know, they have white eggshells. And I asked, well, who washed the eggs.
We also had an abundance of coconut trees in our backyard. They lined the perimeter of our home.
Moving to America was a total different world for me. As far as being a mother and a wife and, and cooking in the kitchen, it just, a lot of the, it took years for me to find ingredients that I could use easily.
Leigh Olson: After the break Betty Ann shares her memories of a very special Sunday dinner around her family’s table in the Philippines, why this dish was so important to her in America, and some advice that I found…surprising.
Leigh Olson: Hi! It’s Leigh from The Heritage Cookbook Project. It’s been my absolute pleasure to introduce you to some of the contributors to this project and share their special recipes and stories on this podcast. Throughout the project, people have asked where they can get the cookbook. Honestly, I had only intended for this project to live online. But, I think I may have been talked into creating a cookbook celebrating heritage recipes and stories in a printed format. But I need your help. I would love hear what you would expect from a cookbook like this. If you could take a minute to fill out a quick survey, I would so appreciate it. You can find the survey at TheHeritageCookbookProject.com/cookbooksurvey. You can also find the link in the show notes and on the website.
Leigh Olson: And now back to Betty Ann and Spanish-style Filipino Cocido.
Betty Ann Quirino: My mother had the cocido, she called it. We would all sit down together with my parents and the soup, I remember the soup was separate, served separately. Filipino food is served, family style in big platter.
We pass along the platters and then help ourselves. Mom put the soup in a soup, a big soup bowl. It was a Pyrex vintage Pyrex bowls. It was even colored green.
Father was the head of the table. They had the table and I sat on his right, my mom’s side than his left. So, uh, I remember the soup was between my dad and me and my dad loves soup. So we always needed soup. Even if it was a warm tropical country, we always started the meal with soup. So my dad would, um, uh, ladle the soup in individuals soup bowls and, um, give it to each of us and he would do that. And then my mother had the largeoval platter of all the meats, the, the hambone, the chicken, the pork, the beef. That will be the centerpiece of the table.
The boiled vegetables were in a separate, square Pyrex container. She would arrange it very beautifully. The cabbage and the potatoes and the carrots and the beans and green beans and everything. And, you know all these vegetables were grown in the backyard and our farm.
There would be the side dishes of the eggplant hash and the tomato sauce, which I remember my mother prepared that from tomatoes that my father grew and she would prepare that ahead so that it would be sweet. You know, she would boil, and boil, and boil it.
It’s making me very hungry thinking about it right now. Hmm.
I used to love to gather the, put all these ingredients on my plate with rice and my favorite thing to do with scoop some tomato sauce and pour it all over and it eat it like that. That was delicious.
And the reason why I like it is because when I came to America, if you notice the Asian ingredients are not as, as prominent so that you can prepare it. In fact, not just in America anywhere in the world. If I’m a Filipino living in Rome, Italy, I can make that. It was comfort food. So the feeling was always your home. You can only have this beautiful, comforting dish at home.
When you are moving to another country in here in the America I told my father that you were getting ready to move. And like he said, you’re going to have a very hard time and I don’t want that for you.
My father was right. We did have a hard time in a lot of ways emotionally, physically socially And you know, and at the end of the day, it was always comforting to have a home cooked meal on the table. And I’m hoping it was also comfort to my sons when they were growing up and learning and adjusting.
Leigh Olson: I asked Betty Ann what advice she had for making this dish, expecting to hear her talk about the harvesting your own ingredients from the garden and the importance of spending hours, and hours making it. But that is far from the answer that I got.
Betty Ann Quirino: This dish is a time consuming. I admit. If you cook it the old way, stove top traditional. You’re crazy if you’re going to try and the way my mom did, like she’ll start on Friday if the meal was on Sunday, she’ll start cooking on Friday inside and be still be cooking on Saturday and still be cooking on Sunday meal was delicious. But the thing is life is not like that.
I would advise you can do shortcuts by using slow cookers, Instant Pots, pressure cookers you know. Take advantage of what we have in our world now to transform what we used to have before.
This is not your grandmother’s time anymore. Sure we want to cook the way our grandmothers cooked, the way our mothers cooked, but we were not living in their era anymore. The train has left that station. So, you knowlet’s move forward. Let’s just embrace what we have now, the resources we have now so we can continue doing what our mothers and grandmothers thought us in a faster, more efficient way. And let’s just keep cooking with love.
Leigh Olson: I hope that you enjoyed Betty Anns’ story about Spanish-style Filipino Cocido and the comfort a home cooked meal provides. If you want to hear more stories like this, please subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
To see some the images of Betty Ann’s Cocido and get one of the recipe please visit theheritagecookbookproject.com.
The Heritage Cookbook Project Podcast was produced and edited by me, I’m Leigh Olson.
I’ll be back in two weeks with the last episode of Season 1, Fan Fiction and Herb Roasted Turkey Legs. Until then, thank you so much for listening and don’t forget that cooking with love is the most important ingredient you can add to any dish
EPISODE 13: SPANISH-STYLE FILIPINO COCIDO
Armed with her mother’s dog-eared cookbooks packed in her suitcase, Betty Ann Quirino and her family started a new life in a new country far from family and the familiar.
Listen as Betty Ann shares her memories of a special childhood Sunday meal, how it became a touchstone for her family in America, and some surprising advice on how to make Spanish-style Filipino Cocido today.
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Betty Ann and her mother and Betty Ann and her family.
Betty Ann and her mother and Betty Ann and her family.
- ½ pound boneless beef short ribs cut in 2-inch cubes
- 1 piece 100 gm ham bone
- 10 to 12 cups beef or chicken broth or water
- 1 large white onion sliced
- 1 Tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ pound pork shoulder or pork loin, cut in 2-inch cubes
- 2 pounds chicken cutlets bone-in, skin-on, about 4 to 5 pieces
- 2 large Spanish Chorizos or Chorizo de Bilbao sliced
- 1 can 10.5 oz./297 g. chick peas or garbanzos, drained
- 4 large potatoes peeled, quartered
- 1 large carrot peeled, sliced
- 1 cup green beans cut in 2-inch pieces, edges trimmed
- 1 head cabbage cut into wedges
- 4 to 6 pieces boiled banana plantains
- 4 to 5 large Asian eggplants boiled, peeled and mashed, about 2 cups (or use Aubergines)
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper powder
- 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium white onion chopped
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
- 6 to 8 large tomatoes peeled and chopped
- In a large, heavy stockpot, over medium high heat combine the beef, ham bone, broth (or water), onion, salt and black peppercorns. Cover and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat to a simmer. Continue cooking for 50 minutes more till beef is tender.
- Add the pork and chicken pieces to the same stockpot. Turn the heat up back to medium high. Cover and let the mixture boil. Then lower heat to a low simmer. Continue cooking till pork and chicken are completely cooked for about 45 to 50 minutes more.
- When beef, pork and chicken are cooked thoroughly, add the Spanish Chorizos, potatoes, carrots and garbanzos. Cook for 20 minutes more till potatoes are soft.
- Lastly, add the green beans and cabbage wedges and continue cooking for 8 minutes till greens are soft.
- To cook the eggplant hash: In a small stockpot, boil eggplants in water for 25 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel then mash. Add minced garlic and vinegar. Season with salt and black pepper powder. Set aside.
- To cook tomato sauce: In a medium saucepan, over medium high heat, sauté the garlic and onions in the olive oil. Then add the chopped tomatoes. Stir and cover. Continue cooking for 25 to 30 minutes till tomatoes are soft and mushy. Set aside.
- How to serve Cocido: In a large platter, arrange side by side the meat pieces –nestle the beef cubes, Spanish Chorizos, pork and chicken pieces next to each other. If platter has room, place the vegetables next to the meats or else plate the vegetables separately.
- Separately, ladle the clear, piping-hot broth in a soup bowl to be served alongside the cocido platter. Serve on the side the boiled banana plantains, eggplant hash and the tomato sauce. Serve the cocido warm with boiled rice. The meats and vegetables are meant to be eaten together with the eggplant hash, the boiled plantains and the tomato sauce drizzled on everything.