Yesterday, I suddenly missed home and craved for igado – a comfort food for me. So I decided to whip it up for dinner. I tried to recall mama’s Igado Recipe.
Igado is a classic Ilocano dish that’s a staple during our family gatherings. For me, the best igado recipe is done by my Mama. Hers is always a hit.
The pork, liver and heart, along with potatoes, carrots and red pepper, are sliced painstakingly into long, thin pieces. If it’s a big family gathering, imagine the kind of production that goes into slicing alone! Kilos and kilos of meat – bloody task indeed.
I grew up in a pig-raising family. My forester-agriculturist Lolo Indong had a full ‘apartment complex’ of eight pigpens at the back of his house in the province. Each pen is as big as a good-sized bedroom, hahaha! But Lolo never raised the pigs for commercial consumption (as far as I can remember). I guess it was just a hobby for him.
The highlight of Lolo’s piggy hobby comes during December. The rest of the year, one pig (or two, depending on the number of guests – apos, balikbayan children – coming home for the holidays) is fattened up and prepared for the table. The sad fate of pigs… 🙁
In Baguio, my parents also raised pigs, though on a smaller scale. Just the same, a pig was always fattened up for Christmas. The slaughter is always scheduled in the early morning of the 23rd. Or the 24th? I don’t remember very well now.
But I remember the house would be abuzz with activity – dad sharpening knives, an uncle setting up the area near the pen, a wood-fire burning, a huge pot of water boiling on it… The pigpens were located down a 20-step or so descent from the main house, surrounded by thick bamboo groves. The pigs are agitated, probably feeling the tension in the air.
Once we hear the holiday pig crying, my sisters, cousins and I would gather and watch from above. I’ll spare you the gory details. (Oh well. I know it’s cruel. But how do you think the meats we buy at the market get there? I aspire to be vegetarian… One day. One day…)
The Christmas buffet table, of course, always included the hearty igado… along with Mama’s Christmas Ham… and dinuguan… and dinakdakan… and barbecue… Oh my, what a carnivorous family we are!