A warm bowl of Cuban quimbombó is a simple yet satisfying rustic stew of pork, vegetables and okra, usually garnished with plantains.
The name quimbombó translates from the regional Spanish both as “okra” and the name of this stew that features it. If it seems similar in both composition and title to Louisiana gumbo, this is no accident as both share an African lineage to the Americas through the Caribbean cultures. With okra most likely originating in West Africa, it is now a staple of Creole cuisine throughout Central American nation.
The marinade used here for the pork is traditionally naranja agria, also known as sour orange or Seville orange. This fruit is more bitter than citrus popular in the U.S., and is popular for use in marmalades with its higher pectin content. These can be difficult to find, so a combination of freshly squeezed orange and lime juice makes an adequate substitute.
Either fresh or frozen okra can be used here, and should not be overcooked but only until it is tender. No seasonings aside from salt and pepper and the base sofrito are included but the result is still well-rounded and flavorful with the inclusion of bacon, wine and the fresh marinade. The acidity of the juices also keeps the characteristic slime from the okra in check.
Plantains are the traditional accompaniment to this stew, usually par-cooked and mashed into dumplings to finish in the hot broth. However, they cook wonderfully in high heat and can provide some crispy texture and sweetness as a garnish when twice-fried.
Quimbombó can be eaten from a bowl or served over cooked rice for a more complete meal. Infuse the rice with a pinch of saffron for a complete arroz con quimbombó.
1 lb pork shoulder
2 slices of bacon
3 cloves of garlic
1 white onion
1 green bell pepper
8 oz okra
14.5-oz can of tomatoes (diced)
4 c chicken stock
½ c white wine
1 Smash the garlic in a mortar and pestle or with the side of a large knife. Mix well with salt, pepper and the juice of the orange and limes.
2 Cut the pork into small cubes. Pour the garlic/juice mix over the pork and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hr.
3 Dice the bacon and cook over medium heat until its fat is rendered. Dry the pork and sauté in the bacon fat until browned, about 5 min (reserve the marinade).
4 Chop the onion and bell pepper and sauté with the pork until soft, another 5 min.
5 Add the tomatoes, stock, wine and reserved marinade. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 min.
6 Slice the okra into rounds and add to the pot. Continue to simmer until cooked through, about 15 min more.
7 Peel and slice the plantains into ½-inch rounds. Fry in oil until browned on each side, about 3 min.