Quick Recipes and Easy

Cuban Cuisine

Cuban cuisine is a fusion of Spanish and Caribbean cuisines. Cuban recipes share spices and techniques with Spanish cooking, with some Caribbean influence in spice and flavor. A traditional Cuban meal would not be served in courses; rather all food items would be served at the same time. The typical meal could consist of plantains, black beans and rice, ropa vieja (beef), Cuban bread, pork with onions, and tropical fruits. Black beans and rice, referred to as moros y cristianos (or moros for small), and plantains are staples of the Cuban diet. Many of the meat dishes are cooked slowly with light sauces. Garlic, cumin, oregano and bay leaves are the dominant spices.

A Cuban sandwich is a well loved export of Cuban cuisine to the United States, especially in Florida. It is a simple pressed sandwich traditionally made with sliced roast pork (cold), thinly sliced serrano ham (cold), thinly sliced Swiss cheese, sweet pickles and yellow mustard on buttered Cuban bread, pressed in a grill called “la plancha”, and cut in half diagonally.
Caribbean Island Cuisine

Cuban Recipes
Arroz con Pollo

Ingredients

1 large chicken, about 4 pounds, cut into 8 pieces.
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Sofrito and Broth:

2 tablespoon Anato oil or olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small tomato, seeded and diced
3 cups water (*)
1 cup dry white wine
1-1/2 cups beer
1/2 tsp annatto seeds, or 1/4 tsp saffron threads
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 pound Valencia or Arborio rice
Sliced red pimientos for garnish
Can of green peas (Petit Pois) for garnish

Method

Wash the chicken and blot dry with paper towels. Mix the oregano, cumin, white pepper and vinegar in a large glass bowl. Add the chicken, turning the pieces to cover with the mixture. Let marinate at least 15 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large heatproof casserole (**) Brown the chicken pieces all over, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a platter and pour out all, but 2 tablespoons of the stout.

For sofrito: Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic to the oil in the casserole, cook over medium heat until soft but do not brown, about 1 or 2 minutes. Add the tomato and cook for one more minute. Return the chicken to the casserole with the sofrito and cook for about 1 or 2 more minutes.

Add the water, wine and beer(*), saffron (if you use it instead of annatto oil), tomato paste and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, place annato seeds in small saucepan with 1/4 cup of the chicken cooking liquid. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Strain mixture back into the chicken.

To end the dish:

Thoroughly wash rice swishing with your hands, and drain off the water. Continue doing this until water runs clear.

Bring chicken mixture to a boil, stir in the washed rice, reduce heat, cover and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. If it starts to dry out and rice is still al dente, add more liquid. If it gets too soupy, uncover during the last 10 or 15 minutes of cooking.

Just before it is done, stir in half of the petit pois and pimientos. Garnish with the rest.

Chef’s Note: I guess this is one of the most beloved of chicken dishes in Cuba, Arroz con Pollo can make any meal special. The rice for this dish is small-grained Valencia-style rice, the same as used for Paella, another of the wonderful Spanish dishes that have found a home in many of the Latin American Countries. If you cannot find it in your area, the Italian Arborio rice will be a excellent substitute.

Unlike Paella, saffron is not traditionally used in Arroz con Pollo, although some people do. Instead, they use Annatto Oil, to give the yellow coloring expected in this dish. Sometimes you can find yellow rice already packaged. This recipe serves 6 to 8 people.

(*) I use only the beer, adjusting the quantity to the total needed for cooking. Beer gives it a nice tangy flavor.

(**)I have a clay paella dish which I use for Arroz con Pollo, Paella and other similar dishes. You can buy them in many Latino markets.
Caribbean Island Cuisine

Cuban Sandwich Recipe

Ingredients

3 thin slices of ham
3 thin slices roast pork hot or cold
3 thin slices of Swiss cheese
3 or 4 slices of pickles
1/3 cut Cuban bread hard crust (or French bread)

Method

You should be using fresh, crusty Cuban bread, but you can always use a 12″ loaf of French bread cut in half.

Slice the bread open face so that both halves are still barely connected and spread mustard on both halves. Add the ham, and then the roasted pork.

When in a rush, you can use one whole piece of roasted pork. Add your Swiss cheese and then a few pickle slices. Make sure to spray your sandwich press with a small butter flavored Pam.

Place the sandwich in a sandwich press and press down until the cheese is melted and the bread is slightly hard to the touch. For those of you without a press, you can also place the sandwich in a hot skillet and press down on it with a heavy kitchen object.

When finished, slice the sandwich diagonally across the middle so that you have two triangle shaped wedges.

Chef’s Note: There are many variations on the Cuban Sandwich. On a traditional Cuban, there should not be any mayonnaise, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers or lettuce. Although you can use these to your own liking, you will find the authentic traditional recipe above. Often times, one can use leftover meats from the fridge for a Cuban, yet I recommend using only the freshest cuts if you plot on serving it hot.

The medianoche is sometimes served cold, and as its name implies, you eat it very late at night as a midnight snack or coming back from dancing or a movie. Some make the medianoche smaller, with a sweeter variety of yellow bread.

In making a excellent Cuban sandwich, remember this: the Roast Pork is what will make the sandwich, so you can never leave it out.
Caribbean Island Cuisine

Costillitas (Cuban Style Baby Back Ribs)

Ingredients

6-8 pound lean baby back pork ribs
8 cloves of garlic
Juice of 3 large lemons
1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
1 cup sour orange juice (Or 1 cup of Orange Juice with the juice of 1 large lime)
5 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons of olive oil

Method

Cut the ribs in 5 to 7 inches sections. Wash well under faucet and dry thoroughly with paper towel. Smash the garlic cloves in a mortar or garlic press.

Mix the sour orange juice, lime juice, oregano, garlic, olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Set aside about 1/2 cup of this mix (the marinating sauce) to be used when serving.

Place ribs in a large non-metal container and pour the rest of mix over the ribs. Rub the remaining salt thoroughly on all surfaces of the ribs. Place in the refrigerator and let stand for 2 to 3 hours.

Set you gas or charcoal grill to low and place ribs so that they are not exposed to direct flame. Cook slowly for about 30 – 45 minutes. Time will depend on the temperature of the grill. Cook very slowly to ensure tenderness. Turn ribs once or twice while cooking.

Once they are cooked, increase the heat to high or in the case of a charcoal grill place ribs over direct high charcoal heat in order to brown. Turn as needed to brown both sides well.

Serve with black beans and rice.
Caribbean Island Cuisine

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Edmund Jarvis writes on Cooking, Internet and Affiliate Marketing. Learn more by visiting my blog caribbeanislandcuisine.blogspot.com/ caribbeanislandcuisine.blogspot.com/



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