Cachupa is to Cape Verde what paella is to Spain, feijoada to Brazil, and bouillabaisse to France. Cachupa began as poor folks fare. In a pot peasant women would combine leftovers, such as beans, bananas, green vegetables, and occasionally a couple of pieces of goat meat. The resulting concoction slowly gained acceptance among the privileged classes, and as it grew in popularity a deluxe cachupa evolved. The more affluent could use chicken, several types of sausages, and a variety of vegetables and legumes. Today it is Cape Verdes national dish, and many of the islands best restaurants feature cahupa rica, or a rich cahupa for Sunday brunch. Cachupa is a must for celebrations, including weddings, christenings, anniversaries, and in that predominantly Catholic country, Saints Days and other religious holidays.
Cachupa is called comida danjo, literally angel food, when a devout person fulfils a vow made to the church by serving portions of this dish to the needy or neighbourhood children.
On a visit to Cape Verde in 1978, I first sampled this dish at the home of my good friend, Dinah Custodio. One of the pieces of advice she gave me was to prepare the dish a day or two before serving; this permits the flavours to meld nicely.
2 cups dried hominy
1 cup small dried fava beans
1 cup dried Great Northern beans
1 pound fresh pork sausage (linguiēa)
1 pound smoked pork sausage (chouriēo)
1 chicken (3-pounds), cut up or chicken thighs
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ cup vegetable oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 pounds firm tomatoes, quartered
1 medium head cabbage
¼ pound salt pork, sliced (optional)
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled
2 pounds manioc root, peeled and cubed
2 pounds pumpkin, peeled and cubed
2 pounds plantains or green bananas, peeled and sliced 1 inch thick
Place hominy, fava beans, and Great Northern beans in separate pots, add water to cover, and soak overnight in refrigerator (this prevents fermentation). The following day, drain the hominy and Great Northern beans and place in a large pot with cold water to cover. Remove outer skin of favas (this should be easy since they have soaked) by rubbing them between your hands and add them to the pot with the hominy. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour. Add whole sausages to mixture and simmer 1 more hour or until beans are tender.
Season chicken with salt and crushed red pepper and set aside. In a large pan, heat the vegetable oil. Add onions and garlic and simmer until onions are transparent. Add tomatoes and simmer 5 minutes. Remove half of the tomato-onion mixture and place in a pot with the chicken pieces. Stir until chicken is coated with the sauce. Add 2 cups of water and simmer until chicken is tender, approximately 30 minutes, adding more water as necessary to keep a little sauce in the pot.
Cut cabbage into eights and remove core. Add cabbage to pan with remaining tomato-onion sauce; mix well. In another large pot, cook sliced salt pork until fat cooks out. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat. Add sweet potatoes, manioc, and pumpkin. Add cabbage mixture to vegetables and enough water to barely cover. Simmer until vegetables are tender, 25 to 30 minutes, adding more water if mixture begins to stick. Add plantains during last 5 minutes of cooking.
To serve, remove sausages from beans and cut into 1-inch pieces. Return sausages to bean pot. Place the beans and meat mixture in a soup tureen or a large deep dish. Serve the vegetables on a large platter, and the chicken in a deep covered dish.
Cooks Notes: Dried hominy can be found in most Asian, Mexican, and specialty grocery stores. Manioc root is available in most supermarkets and specialty grocery stores. In many Asian and Hispanic markets it is known as Yucca or Cassava.
Serves 8 - 10.
country : Cape Verde
course : soup
source : Cuisines of Portuguese Encounters / Cherie Y. Hamilton