Puerco con Calabaza for Black History Month

By Staff |

Recipe by Zarela Martinez

This dish was the entrée of Red Rooster’s menu for Black History Month honoring inspiring women chefs of color. It was inspired by cookbook author Zarela Martinez. She says about it: “Pumpkin-meat combinations are a hallmark of the Afro-Caribbean heritage of Veracruz. The tradition is being upheld by Santiago Careaga and his wife, Elena, of Tamiahua, where I first tasted this dish with the unexpected North African accents of cumin and coriander seeds.”

Prep Details

Servings: 4



● 1 lb. piece of boneless pork shoulder

● 1 large white onion

● 1 large carrot

● 3 stocks of celery

● 16 ounces of red wine (preferably pinot noir)

● 4 ounces of tomato paste

● 2 bay leaves

● Salt and pepper to taste

● 4 ounces of olive oil


● 3-4 pieces of Broccoli Rabe

● 1 ounce olive oil

● 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic

● ½ teaspoon of chili flakes

● Salt and pepper to taste


● 1 lb. peeled and cleaned pumpkin, cut into 2 inch cubes

● 1 gallon of water or stock

● 1 teaspoon cumin

● 1 teaspoon coriander

● 1 teaspoon peppercorns

● ½ cup chopped onion

● 1 teaspoon garlic

● 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds, toasted

● 1 tablespoon chopped tomatoes

● 1 tablespoon cider vinegar


1. For the Pork: Place a Dutch oven or large pot over high heat. Add olive oil and hit until


2. Season the pork shoulder liberally with salt and pepper. Sear pork on both sides, about

3-4 minutes per side. Remove from the pot and set aside.

3. In the same pot, add the carrot, onion, and celery and cook until brown. Add the tomato

paste and red wine and simmer until reduced by ¼.

4. Place the pork back in the pot and place pot in a 350 degrees oven for 3 hours until

falling apart.

5. Shred the meat and set aside.

6. Take the braised liquid and reduce until glossy, then strain.

7. For the Broccoli Rabe: Heat a skillet over med-high heat and add oil until shimmering.

Sear the broccoli rabe and season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and cook for

another minute until fragrant.

8. For the Pumpkin: Grind the cumin, coriander and peppercorns to a powder using an

electric coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle.

9. Coarsely chop the remaining onion and garlic. Puree in a blender with the pumpkin

seeds, ground spices, chopped tomatoes and the chilies. You may need to add a little

stock or water to the blender.

10. Peel and cut the pumpkin or squash into 8 equal chunks, removing any seeds and

strings. Add the chunks to the stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat

to maintain a low rolling boil and cook for about 30 minutes, or until tender. Transfer to a

colander and let cool to room

11. Scrape the flesh into a bowl and discard the skin. Mash thoroughly with a potato masher

or pestle.

12. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat until rippling.  Add the spice-

tomato mixture, stirring to avoid splattering; reduce the heat, cover and cook until the fat

starts to separate, about 15 minutes. Add the reserved mashed pumpkin or squash and

the vinegar, stirring to mix well, and cook, covered for 10 minutes. Taste for salt and add

more if needed.

13. Serve the pork on top of the pumpkin with the broccoli rabe on the side.