I honed in on my native Filipina roots to make an authentic Philippine dish. This particular recipe does not require banana leaves, but I thought how rustic and comforting it would be for banana leaves aesthetics. So I made “Paksiw Na Lechón” which in literal translation means “Pork in Liver Sauce” BUT to make the recipe my way, I substituted the pork for beef oxtails. And so it is…a 4-6 hour braising process in a dutch oven and not on the stove-top but oven baked.
-Remember, the original recipe calls for 2 lbs roast pork butt (left over pork roast may be used), cut into cubes. I substituted the pork with beef oxtails (2 packages).
-2 cups Lechon Sauce (can be purchased at a Filipino grocery store) OR you can make your own REFER TO PART II RECIPE BELOW.
-1 tsp thyme
-1 stick cinnamon
-1 tsp oregano
-3 bay leaves
-5 cloves garlic, minced
-1 cup white vinegar
-4 tbsp soy sauce
-1 tbsp peppecorns
-bay leaves, handful
-4 tbsp brown sugar (I used organic sugar)
-8 5-inch cut fresh banana leaves and two extras–about 10 inches wide (this is entirely optional)
I used my dutch oven for the entire recipe. Preheat oven at 200 Degrees F
1. Start by browning the beef oxtails (or pork); then mix all the ingredients, from above (except for the cinnamon stick, garlic and whole peppercorns) with the beef oxtails (or pork). Keep brown the meat until you attain caramelization.
2. Wash the cut banana leaves thoroughly before use and lay them out on the counter. When the meat is ready, place a few in the middle of the banana leaf (if using beef oxtails, place two in each banana leaf) along with bits of garlic, peppercorn, one bay leaf and a dash of liver sauce atop for flavor enhancement. Fold one end on top of the other; whilst sealing the opposite end with a string of cut banana leaf–making sure the meat does not fall out.
3. Meanwhile, inside the dutch oven (or large enamelware or non-aluminum pot) containing the left over sauce, drizzle a bit of white wine vinegar and soy sauce inside just enough to deglaze the pot. Place a couple of large banana leaves on top of the deglaze sauce–covering the entire bottom of the pot.
4. After wrapping individual banana leaves, place them back inside the dutch oven. Cover the top with more banana leaves, along with the cinnamon stick to help lock in the flavors. Apply aluminum foil on the cover of the dutch oven before covering it.
5. Braise in the oven for about 4-6 hours. Four hours will give you tender meat; 6 hours will give you falling-off-the-bones meat!
NOTE: If you wish to use the original method of this recipe using pork and without the banana leaves, simply will mix all the ingredients in a large enamelware or non-aluminum pot. Boil and simmer for about 2-4 hours. Serves 4-6. Great with steam or fried rice (as pictured).
PART II–For the Lechón (or Liver) Sauce
-1/2 lb chicken liver or 1 cup liver pâté
-1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
-1 cup bread crumbs
-3 tbsp finely minced garlic
-1 cup finely minced onion
-2 tbsp brown sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a saucepan, combine all ingredients and bring the mixture to a long simmer (about 20 minutes) over moderate heat. If using chicken liver, broil the liver until it is half done, then extract the juices by pressing through a sieve or strainer. Serves 8.