Oswald Rivera

Author, Warrior, and Teacher

Category: pork (page 1 of 6)

CROQUETAS DE CARNE (Meat Croquettes)

Back on the block, this was a singular dish, mainly for a celebratory occasion. It’s Croquetas de Carne  (Meat Croquettes). Usually, the  recipe is made with beef; but you can substitute ground pork, lamb , turkey or chicken. Any good grade of meat will do. In Nuyorican cuisine we serve the  dish with parsley potatoes or rice.  But whatever accompaniment you want with it, it’ll be a marvelous  and inexpensive banquet.

Note that the recipe calls for deep frying. Any good quality oil will do, be it canola, safflower or sunflower oil. In the old days, th  folks would use lard.  Also, I’ll say it front: this recipe takes time and patience. You have to cook the meat, chill it thoroughly, dip it in bread crumbs, chill again, and then deep fry. Yet the results will be splendid. That’s why, back in Spanish Harlem, it was a special dish.

CROUETAS DE CARNE   t    (Meat Croquettes)


4 tablespoons butter
¼ cup flour
1 cup milk
2 cups finely ground cooked beef
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Dry bread crumbs
1 egg, slightly beaten and mixed with 2 tablespoons water
Oil for deep frying


  1.  Melt the butter in a large frypan or skillet. Add milk and cook over medium heat until very thick, stirring constantly. Add beef, lemon juice, salt, pepper, parsley and oregano. Place in refrigerator and chill for 2 hours.
  2.  Remove from fridge and form into cylinders, pyramids or patties. While forming the croquettes it’s advisable to keep hands slightly wet. Dip into bread crumbs and then beaten egg. Dip into bread crumbs again. Place back in fridge and chill for 2 hours.
  3.  Fill a large skillet or fry pan with oil (by at least 1½-inches). Heat until very hot (385 degrees F.) and deep fry croquettes until brown.
    Yield: 4 servings.





This is one of the easiest pork chop meals to prepare. Simply brown the chops, then steam them in water with some lemons. That’s it. It renders delicious pork chops with a great lemon sauce  that goes great with potatoes, or rice, or couscous, or by itself with a crusty loaf of bread. We paired it with herbed baked potatoes and it was GRAND!

Turn the lowly pork chop into a main dish that everyone will love. The recipe is a winner—see for yourself.



4 pork chops, preferably boneless, 1-inch thick
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon powdered garlic (or to taste)
¾ teaspoon dried oregano (or to taste)
4 slices lemon (cut into rings)
1 cup water


  1. Select center-cut pork chops, 1-inch thick. Trim some of the fat that remains around the edge and melt in a large heavy skillet or frypan,
  2.  Drizzle chops with olive oil on both sides. Sprinkle with salt pepper. garlic and oregano. Add to skillet and brown on both sides over medium-high heat (about 5 minutes).
  3.  Top each chop with slice of lemon (may use 2 slices if the chops are large). Pour in water, bring to a boil, cover tightly and simmer on low heat until chops are very tender (about 30 minutes). Serve with pan juices.
    Yield: 4 servings.



My beloved wife has this thing for green peas, fresh or frozen she loves the suckers. Thus we are always on the lookout for a good green peas recipe.  Stewed peas is a favorite of ours. And the dish given today gives peas a delicious embellishment. These are not simply just peas stewed in a pot. These are peas that are combined with salt pork, or what we call tocino or, if preferred, bacon strips. Then the thing is stewed, along with pimento slices, in a sauce. The result is a dish that goes well over rice, pasta, or your favorite grain.



1 six-ounce piece salt pork or slab bacon, cut into half-inch slices and then into half-inch wide strips
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced into thin rings
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon flour
1½ cups water
1 medium red pimento (red  pepper) cut into julienne strips
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon sugar
1½ pounds fresh peas, shelled, or 10-ounce package frozen small, young peas


  1. Place the pieces of pork or bacon in a pot and fill with cold water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook 1 minute, Drain, cool under running water and pat dry with paper towels.
  2.  Place pieces in a large skillet or frypan and cook on medium heat (no oil needed) for 8 minutes or until they have  rendered all their fat and are well browned.
  3.  Add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is soft and translucent.. Mix in the flour, stir in the water and bring to a  boil, stirring.  Cook until thickened into a sauce.
  4.  Add pimento, salt, pepper, oregano and peas. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and cook 15 minutes if peas are fresh, five minutes if they are frozen. Transfer to a serving platter and serve. Or serve from the pot, if desired (in the Rivera family we don’t stand on formality—unless we want to impress company).
    Yield: 4-6 servings.


In a prior posting of 08/29/23, I gave a recipe for Fettuccini with Olive Spread, Tomatoes and Zucchini. The recipe given today is a variation on the same theme of using an olive spread. Usually I prefer a Kalamata spread, which can be found in most supermarkets these days, or you can get a combination of olives and capers known as a ‘tapenade.’ The same principle applies except, this time, it’s with pork chops. Simply season the pork chops with salt and pepper then coat with a mix of olive spread, Dijon mustard and parsley. Then you broil the thing—and that’s it. A simple, nutritious dish that will have everyone clamoring for more. Serve  with your favorite vegetable and/or side dish, and you have a winner.



4 pork chops (bone-in or boneless), ¾-inch thick, 6-8 ounces each
½ cup olive spread
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh parsley
Salt and ground black pepper to taste


  1. Hear broiler to high with rack in top position.
  2. Rinse pork chops and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. In a small bowl, combine olive spread, mustard and parsley. Lightly season pork chops with salt and pepper, and coat with olive spread mix.
  4.  Place in a greased baking dish or pan and broil until browned and cook through, about 6 minutes, flipping once during broiling.
    Yield: 4 servings




Of all the ways to prepare pork chops, I prefer the braising method. Now, in my circle, even though there may be some vegans among us, pork chops are still relatively popular. They are cheap to buy and easy to cook. In terms of cooking we all like fried pork chops. The next level is roasted, baked or broiled pork chops. What I like about braising is that the liquid used infuses the pork chops with a delicate flavor and texture. The seasonings used may vary. Normally all you need is salt and pepper. In our Nuyorican culture we sprinkle the chops with olive oil and add oregano, thyme and garlic powder to the mix. If you want to substitute one clove garlic, minced, instead of the garlic powder, go right ahead. Some people I know add a little bit of dill to it as well. Use whatever spices strike your fancy. One time I added turmeric to the braising liquid, and it was fantastic. Use your imagination folks, it can’t hurt.

The side dish to pork chops I leave up to you. Back in Spanish Harlem the normal accompaniment was rice. Some like potatoes and a vegetable. You, as the cook, and your guests, are the deciding factor here.

BRAISED PORK CHOPS (Nuyorican Style)


3 bone-in pork or boneless pork chops
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup red wine (dry or sweet, your choice)
1 cup chicken broth


  1. Rinse pork chops under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Place chops in a bowl, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season on both sides with oregano, thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper
  3. Heat remaining olive oil (3 tablespoons) in a large heavy skillet or frypan over medium-high heat. Add the pork chops and cook about 3-4 minutes per side until nicely browned.
  4.  Add wine and cook until wine is almost gone. For your teetotalers out there, don’t fret. The liquor in the way evaporates and only the flavor is left.
  5. Add chicken broth, increase heat and bring mixture to a boil. Cover pan, reduce heat to low and cook about 45 to 60 minutes or until fork tender.
    Yield: 4 servings.






I’ve had stuffed zucchini dishes before, but not this version. This is the Lebanese method of stuffing zucchini with meat. For full disclosure, this dish is from a cookbook I’ve had for years, Lebanese Delights by Raymonda khoury Naaman. It has become one of my go-too volumes when I want to impress friends and neighbors by serving a Middle Eastern meal.

The recipe is simple enough, sautéed zucchini with meat cooked with various spices. The recipe ingredients says use “lean ground meat.” We deciphered that to be beef, lamb or pork, your choice. You can  even make it with ground chicken or turkey. As an accompaniment we served it with another recipe from Ms. Naaman’s cookbook, Cooked Rice. This dish uses vermicelli noodles as an ingredient, thus it reminds me of Syrian rice, which is prepared the same way.

Enjoy this meal from a culture and cuisine thousands of years in the making.

(Koussa Ablama)
Serves 6


2.2 pound small zucchini, about 5-6 zucchini
1 pound ground meat
4 tablespoons pine nuts
2 medium chopped white or red onions
1 tablespoon butter
4 tablespoons vegetable oil (Note: we substituted olive oil)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups water
Salt, pepper and cinnamon as desired


Wash the zucchini, cut off the stems and hollow them using a zucchini cutter or potato peeler. (Note: you can also use an ice cream cone scooper. In fact, we found this easier when scooping out the zucchini flesh).

Melt the butter in a frying pan; add 2 tablespoons of oil and sauté the zucchinis.

Fry the pine nuts in 2 tablespoons of oil; add the chopped onions and fry until golden in color. Add the meat, salt, pepper and cinnamon and keep frying until the meat is cooked.

Fill the zucchinis with the meat mixture and place them in a pot. Add the tomato paste (dissolved in 2 cup of water) and cook on high heat until done (about 20 minutes).

Serve hot with rice on the side.
(Recipe given bellow)

(Riz Mfalfal)
Serves 6


½ cup vermicelli
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups water
1 cup rice
Salt as desired


Heat the butter and oil in a cooking pot. Add the vermicelli  and fry until golden in color. Add 2 cups of water, salt, and bring to a boil.

Rinse the rice with water, drain it, then add it to the boiling water. Cover the pot and let it boil for another minute, Reduce the heat and simmer until the rice is done.

Turn off the heat and let it stand for 2 minutes,




This was a recipe of convenience. I happen to have some ground pork on hand, as well as a head of broccoli. So, I decided to make a pork and broccoli toss. Simple enough, Except that I gave it an Asian flavor, adding soy sauce, sherry and gingerroot. I’ve discovered that ground beef and ground pork are almost always interchangeable. This recipe can work with both or, if preferred, you can substitute ground chicken or turkey for the meat. You can even do it with frozen broccoli if the fresh stuff is not available. Also, I included some sliced almonds for an added touch.

This dish goes good with plain boiled  rice. This time around, we coupled it with soba noodles; and it was just as good.



1 medium head broccoli
2 tablespoon peanut oil
1 pound ground pork
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
½ teaspoon peeled and finely chopped ginger
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water
¼ cup sliced almonds


  1. Rinse broccoli under cold running water. Remove stems and cut into small pieces; and cut florets into medium pieces.
  2.  In a wok or saucepan, heat peanut oil. Add ground pork over medium-high heat and stir fry until browned. Add broccoli and garlic, and cook for about 2 minutes.
  3.  Add water. soy sauce,  sherry and ginger. Cover and cook over moderate heat for 15 minutes.
  4.  Combine cornstarch and water. Add  pork mixture. Add almonds and cook, stirring constantly until mixture is thick and bubbly. Cook 1 minute more and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings.



In Nuyorican culture, sausage and rice has always been a staple. Back on the block it was almost always spicy Spanish chorizo sausage that was added. And invariably we paired it with bell pepper or, what we call, pimientos. Initially  it was green bell peppers. Then we discover red bell peppers and that became our favorite. We just love its taste, and it looked great when presenting a dish. Which leads to today’s rendition, Sausage with Peppers and Cumin Rice. The sausage can be pork sausage like chorizo, Italian sausage or any any other inclusive of turkey or chicken sausage. Back then the rice was either plain boiled rice or Spanish yellow rice—until we discovered cumin rice, popular in North African and Middle Eastern cuisine.

In this combo dish, I would start with the sausage in the oven. Then preparing the rice and, as it simmers, complete the sausage recipe. Note that some sausage comes with a casing. If so, remove the casing first before cooking.

This dish has a spicy edge to it which we in the Rivera family favor. In this case, for a beverage to accompany the meal we recommend a chilled rosé wine or a Beaujolais, or even beer.



1½ pounds sausage
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced into rounds
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 large red bell pepper, rinsed, seeded, cored and sliced into ¼-inch strips
Salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Prick the sausage with a knife or fork and cook in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes.
  2.  In a large skillet or fry pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion. garlic, and stir fry until wilted.
  3.  Add red pepper and cook 4 minutes longer.  Remove sausage from oven. Slice into small rounds (¼ to ½-inch) and combine with vegetables in skillet. Add salt and pepper. Cook, covered, until sausage is done. Serve with cumin rice (recipe bellow)
    Yield: 4 servings.



1 cup rice
3 tablespoons butter
¼ cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and black pepper to taste
1½ cups fresh or canned chicken broth or water
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
2 sprigs fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf


  1. Rinse  rice in a fine-mesh strainer until the water runs clear. In Pennsylvania Dutch country this is known as “washing rice in several waters.” This removes excess starch from the rice, resulting in grains that are more separate when cooked.
  2.  Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a heavy saucepan or pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until wilted. Add rice, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir briefly over low hear until the grains are covered with butter.
  3.  Stir in the broth and make sure there are no lumps in the rice. Add parsley, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer over low heat until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 20-25 minutes.
  4.  Discard the thyme leaves and bay leaf. Stir in the remaining butter and serve with the sausage and peppers.
    Yield: 4 servings.


When I’m looking for an exceptional mushroom dish, I always go to Baked Mushrooms. It’s not the normal way to prepare the fame fungi. Yes, mushrooms are an organism belonging to the fungi kingdom.  That being said, my favorite recipe for baked mushroom is the French classic: Champignons au Four. It is simply a mix of mushrooms, salt pork (also known as fatback), parsley and scallions. Let me add that, if you’re not partial to salt pork, you can always substitute bacon but, it will not render the same flavor or texture. Proceed as you think best.  Our usual accompaniment to this dish is plain boiled rice; but you can serve it with your preferred grain or even pasta. This time around we paired it with couscous, and it was marvelous.

As to the mushrooms, the recipe calls for small  white mushrooms. We tried it with small Portobello, and it came out just as good. Keep in mind it has to be small, whole mushroom. If you want to use large mushroom, sliced or cut up, you’re welcomed to try. if you want to experiment, go right ahead.

I’ve had this recipe for years hidden away in one of my desk drawers. How I got it, I can’t recall. It does serve its purpose when I want an out of the ordinary mushroom dish. It makes for a great vegetarian meal that everyone, vegetarian or not, will love.



1 pound small mushrooms, washed and patted dry with paper towels
¼ pound salt pork, rinsed, diced, blanched in boiling water for 5 minters and drained
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Pinch of ground nutmeg
8 sprigs parsley, main stems removed
2 tablespoons olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350 Degree F.
  2. Mix the mushrooms, salt pork, butter, chopped parsley, scallions, salt and pepper together. Put the mixture into an ovenproof dish (we prefer cast iron). Place in oven and cook for 30 to 40 minutes or until mushrooms, salt pork and scallions are lightly browned.
  3.  Just before serving, fry the parsley sprigs in the oil and use them to garnish the dish.
    Yield: 3-4 servings.



Here’s a treat: a sauce that can accommodate both meat and fish. We have it in Shallot Butter Sauce. Also, it’s so simple and so refined, it will transform a lowly pork chop or lamb chop, not to mention a fist steak, into a glorious dish. All you need is three basic ingredients: shallots, butter and a bit of white wine. That’s it. You can serve the dish with whatever accompaniment you like, be it rice, pasta or potatoes. We, in the Rivera clan, like it with a good hearty loaf of bread to sop  up the sauce as you enjoy the lamb  or pork chops (or fish).

The other thing that needs discussion is the time factor in terms of the item used with this sauce, I like to cook pork chops at an oven temperature of 375 degrees F.  It take about  25 minutes to cook depending on thickness. Some cooks prefer a 400 degree oven because it cooks faster. But I find that at the lower temperature, pork chops remain  tender and juicy rather than drying out. The same for Lamb chops. They take about 35-40 minutes to cook at 375º and 8-10 minutes at 400º.  Note that the longer baking time will give you a well done product. In my family we like chops well done. If you want medium or rare, then the baking time will be less. For fish steaks, it’s another story. It’ll be 25-30 minutes at 375º and 15-20 minutes at 400º.  How long to cook or how tender you want the product will be up to you.



3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
½ stick butter (or more to taste)
3 tablespoons white wine, dry or sweet (your preference)


  1. In a saucepan or skillet, melt butter over medium heat.
  2.  Add shallots and cook, stirring until onion is soft, about 3-4 minutes.
  3.  Add wine and cook 3 minutes more.
  4.  Pour over 4 pork chops, lamb chops or fish steaks and bake in a preheated oven until tender (see above).
    Yield: 4 servings.
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