My year 2014 (and several months before that) was a tough ride but nevertheless, an exciting one. A lot of things happened, some are trivial while some are matters of life and death. The year or two that had passed may not be the best years of my life. I was left behind, broke, frustrated, sick and in the verge of giving up. Life had almost pushed me six feet below the ground. Challenges came along that moved me and made me weak at some point only to find the real strength deep within me – burning, raw and unfaltering. Despite all the things that had happened, I am still here, though still recovering from the storm but another year richer with life’s lessons and experiences. Armed with one realization that I can be stronger than I think I am, I can now say that I am ready to take off to 2015. I have wonderful friends and community that guided me along the way and I can never be more thankful enough to all of them for keeping me sane all through the years. So as I begin to flip another chapter of my adventurous life, I desire to move forward one step ahead at a time, love myself more so I can give more love to others, be more proactive and happy, keep the real friends and set aside the rotten ones, and feel more gorgeous of myself inside and out.
|Beautifully shaped hardinera makes a simple celebration an extraordinary one.|
Though baffled with the many happenings during the year, nothing could ever stop me from doing interesting things on the side, not even from cooking. Last time, I bid farewell to the brave year by preparing a very special dish known as Hardinera, the famous pork meatloaf dish of the folks from Lucban, Quezon.
|Hardinera is traditionally molded in llanera or oval-shaped tin molds and steamed in a steamer or double boiler.|
Having some resemblance to morcon, embutido and Marikina’s everlasting, that is usually served on fiestas, Christmas Holiday and New Year, hardinera is made from the mixture of dices of pork, hotdog and ham, and blended with liver spread or paté, chopped veggies, pineapple tidbits, red bell pepper, sweet pickle relish, raisins and cheese. The ingredients are merged together with bread crumbs and beaten eggs and commonly molded in individual llaneras (oval-shaped tin molds) then steamed until the meatloaf is set. Could be served cold or at room temperature, the oval-shaped tin mold is then inverted on a platter to reveal the beautiful embellishments of round pineapple slices, hardboiled eggs, strips of red bell pepper and carrot florets at the bottom of the perfectly set loaf. The beautiful decoration completes the dish with that drool-worthy and inviting appearance. It is not only party in the mouth but also festive in the eyes, thus giving justice for taking the center spot of the dining table of the Media Noche (New Year’s Eve Celebration Dinner).
|Adorned with embellishments, hardinera is not only party in the mouth but also festive in the eyes.|
My New Year was just a simple dinner celebration in the company of my younger brother Udong, niece Alexia and nephew Mark but it was made even more meaningful and extraordinary by the numerous gratitude and self-realizations along with my special hardinera dish.
Hardinera (Lucban’s Meatloaf)
Makes 6 to 8 llaneras
For the hardinera meatloaf
- 1 ½ lbs. pork kasim or pigi (pork shoulder or butt part), sliced into 1-inch cubes
- 6 strips bologna, salami or any smoked ham, finely diced
- 6 pcs. chicken hotdog or frankfurter, finely diced
- ¾ cup cheddar cheese, finely diced
- ¾ cup bread crumbs or panko
- 1 cup liver spread or paté
- 1 ½ cups frozen mixed vegetables (combination of corns, green peas and finely diced carrots)
- ½ cup minced celery leaves
- 1 ¼ cups tomato sauce
- ½ cup water
- 3 tbsps. patis (fish sauce)
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large white onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup sweet pickle relish
- a handful of raisins
- ¾ cup pineapple tidbits
- ¾ cup large red bell pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
- 5 raw whole eggs, beaten
- salt and pepper to taste
For the garnish and decoration
- 6-8 pcs. pineapple round slices
- 2-3 hardboiled eggs, peeled and sliced
- several strips of red bell pepper
- 1 small carrot, peeled and sliced into florets
- ¼ cup minced parsley
- a handful of celery of leaves
- cooking oil (for sautéing and greasing)
- banana leaves (for lining)
- Grease with oil the sides and bottom of individual llaneras or tin molds. Line the bottom with pre-cut banana leaves. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Sauté the garlic and onion until translucent and very fragrant. Add pork and fish sauce. Cook until the pork turns light brown in color.
- Stir in the tomato sauce until evenly distributed. Gradually pour the water and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook for about 30 minutes or just enough until the meat is tender and the liquid is reduced into thick sauce.
- Add the bell peppers, mixed vegetables and celery. Cook for about 2 minutes while stirring to evenly distribute the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and transfer in a large mixing bowl. Allow to cool.
- When the pork mixture has already cool down, add the bread crumbs, ham, hotdog, liver spread, pineapple tidbits, pickle relish and raisins. Stir well to incorporate all the ingredients.
- Meanwhile, arrange the round pineapple slices, hardboiled eggs, carrot florets and strips of red bell pepper in individual llaneras. Pour about 2 to 3 tablespoons of beaten egg over the garnishing. Make sure the eggs are well distributed.
- Spoon the pork mixture in each tin molds. Press the mixture to level the surface. Pour the top with another 2 to 3 tablespoons of beaten egg to cover the pork mixture. Cover the llanera with aluminum foil. Repeat the process until the rest of the mixture is used up.
- Bring the water in the base pot of the steamer or double boiler into a steady simmer. Arrange the filled llanera on the steamer and steam for 45 to 60 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to completely cool.
- Run a knife around the edge of hardinera to loosen it from the mold. Carefully invert the mold on a serving platter to transfer the content. Garnish with minced parsley and the remaining celery leaves. Serve warm or cold. Enjoy!
TIPS FROM ENZ:
- Serve along with choice of dip – catsup or lechon sarsa (sweet liver sauce).
- The hardinera can last upto 7 days if kept refrigerated.