Tuesday, July 26, 2011

#12 - Cuban Food

{ Cuban Rice and Beans; Cuban Chicken }

Last week I invited my family over for dinner to taste my first Cuban dishes: Frijoles Negros (rice and beans), and Pollo de la Plancha (iron flattened chicken). The recipe was fun to make, especially the chicken. I pounded chicken breast with a heavy skillet until it got flat. What a great way to release negative energy! Nonetheless both recipes call for cumin, so if you're not into that spice, you probably will not like these recipes. But they turned out pretty decent. I'm sure I didn't do something correctly but the family loved it.

The recipes are below and pictures of our vacation in Miami last year where I tasted Cuban food for the first time. It was absolutely... won... der... ful...

Quick Frijoles Negros Rápidos

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Yield: 12 servings
The express train to beautiful black beans and rice in a quick and easy recipe!
1 large onion
1 large green pepper
3 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed, and chopped
3 tablespoons mojo criollo sauce or 3 tablespoons vinegar
Olive oil for frying
3 (16-ounce) cans plain, unseasoned black beans
1 bay leaf
3 teaspoons ground cumin (more or less to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

Make a sofrito by chopping onion and green pepper. Sauté onions and green pepper in olive oil until onions are translucent. 

Add crushed and chopped garlic and sauté another minute or so. Take about one cup of beans and mash them to make a chunky paste. 

Add this paste, the canned beans and the sofrito to a sauce pan. Add bay leaf and let simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes. 

Add cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaf. Serve over rice.

Pollo de la Plancha
 By Three Guys From Miami

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 8 minutes
Total time: 18 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
A Miami menu favorite you can cook the correct way at home.
4 whole boneless chicken breast
s fresh lime juice
salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour for dredging
1/2 cup white onion, chopped fine
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Sprinkle a little water on the chicken breasts and place (one at a time, please) on a piece of plastic wrap. Fold the plastic wrap over to make a little pouch. 

Place the pouch on a cutting board and beat with a smooth meat mallet or rolling pin until very thin. Don't go crazy with the hammer. You want a thin chicken breast, not ground chicken. If your chicken breasts are very thick, you'll want to slice them in half lengthwise before pounding them out.

Remove the plastic wrap and dry the chicken with a paper towel. Sprinkle it with a little lime juice. Shake on some salt, pepper, and cumin by eye.

Dredge the chicken breasts in the flour, shaking off any excess. You want a very thin layer of flour.

Sauté the onion briefly in a large sauté pan over medium heat – just long enough to heat through and coat with a little oil. Add a pinch of salt and a little pepper to the onions as they cook. Add the garlic during the last minute or two of sautéing. Use a slotted spoon to remove the onion and garlic and set aside.

Increase the heat to high. Toss in the chicken breasts and fry the chicken, browning on both sides.
The chicken should cook very quickly – do not overcook. Just a few minutes on each side should do it. Just make a small slice in one of the breasts to make sure it's cooked through.

To serve: cover each breast with the cooked onions and garlic. Add a squeeze of fresh lime juice and some fresh cilantro. Serve over rice.

Pictures of Cuban food
from our Miami Vacation
May 2010

We visited Grandma Jody (across from me) and friends in Miami last year.
We had a great time full of fellowship and memories.
This was at a Cuban restaurant called, Little Havana. Great food!

Dre, Izzy, and I went to another Cuban restaurant in South Beach.
This was actually the first Cuban restaurant we went to.
Once again, excellent food at the Bella Cuba restaurant.

And last but not least, more exotic things to add to my kitchen gadget. Someday I'll own it:

EZ Green Plantain Peeler and Smasher

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