Saturday, November 24, 2012

Two Cuban Recipes - Ropa Vieja and Papas Rellenas

Seasonal Recipe of the Week
So just because it's fun, let's take a little trip to Cuba for today’s recipe inspiration. It was Bram's idea, and he usually has good ideas. Here's my version, which you make in a slow cooker.

Crockpot Ropa Vieja

1 1/2 to 2 pounds beef flank steak
1/2 green pepper sliced into strips

1/2 Spanish onion, sliced into strips

2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

2 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. coarse Black Pepper

1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 cup red wine

Put all these ingredients into the crockpot in order. Add water to just cover the steak. Set it on low and cook for 6 to 8 hours. When the meat is very tender (comes apart with a fork), remove from the crockpot and finely shred it into a separate dish. Then make the sauce.

Ingredients for sauce
the pepper, garlic,and onion from the crockpot

3 tbsp. Olive oil
2 cups beef broth

1 small can tomato sauce
1 small can tomato paste

1 tsp. oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

With a slotted spoon, remove the onion, garlic and peppers from the crockpot and sauté in a large frying pan. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste and beef broth. 
Add the shredded beef to the tomato mixture and cook together for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with black beans and rice.

And now for something completely different. How about Cuban Papas Rellenas? (AKA meat-stuffed, deep-fried, Potato balls!)

Cuban Papas Rellenas

2 lbs large potatoes (peeled and cut into quarters)

1 lb picadillo (seasoned ground beef, see below)
Vegetable oil for frying
1 cup dry bread crumbs

4 eggs

1 tsp salt

Add salt to a pot of cold water, and boil the potatoes until they are soft. Drain the potatoes, and then mash them, then set aside to allow them to cool. Separate the egg yolks from the whites in two bowls. Mix the egg yolks into the mashed potato mixture, whisk the egg whites for a minute. 
Take a 1/4 of a cup of the mashed potatoes, and form it into a ball. Make a dent in the ball, to give it more of a bowl shape. Fill the indentation with a tablespoon of picadillo, and then reseal it. Reshape the potato as a ball again. Dip the ball in the egg whites, then roll the ball around in bread crumbs until it is coated. For a better coating, or for a crunchier texture, you may dip the ball into the egg whites again and coat it with another layer of bread crumbs. Refrigerate the potato balls for at least four hours before frying. To fry, pour enough oil into a skillet or frying pan to cover half of the balls, the oil should be at least 350°. Place several balls into the frying pan and cook on each side until golden brown, usually 2-3 minutes, taking care not to overcook. Drain the stuffed potatoes on paper towels, do not stack them.The other cooking method is to deep fry the papas rellenas at 375° until golden brown, they cook best deep-fried when they are frozen.

Ingredients for Picadillo
1 lb ground meat
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 small can tomato sauce

1/4 cup dry white wine
Pimiento stuffed olives

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, brown the ground meat, onions and garlic. If meat is not too lean, pour out whatever fat you render.Turn heat down to medium low. Add the tomato sauce and wine. While it simmers, chop up the pimiento stuffed olives and add to meat mixture, it is a great idea to add a little bit of the brine to the mixture. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Make them small and serve as hors d’oeuvres! Invite me.