Robaina's plantation

Monday 23 January 2012

Cuban New Year's Dinner

                 Anyone who tells you the food sucks in Cuba & that they dont have a cuisine have only stayed in all-inclusive resorts and never ventured off the beaten path. Those of us who travel to Havana or other cities with no all-inclusives and sometimes no hotels understand otherwise. You may still find bad Cuban food in a Cuban's home but they do have a cuisine. It's only limited to the materials they have at hand or their abitity to cook them. I have the good fortune of having friends who cook it well.
                  New Year's Eve is a big holiday in Cuba and the streets are buzzing with activity. At a certain hour, later in the day, you might even catch a whiff of roast pig in the air. Many Cubans will kill a pig or at least get one already killed and ready for the spit. They may not eat too well the rest of the year but they do it good on this night. The house where I was invited was no different. This particular family doesn't eat too poorly the rest of the year but the holiday dinner is always a lttle special. Plus, with my coming, they prepared all my favourite dishes. I only eat this in Cuba. I was looking forward to it.
                 "Chicharo's". They had them cooking in the pressure cooker, they are like the split-pea of Cuba. You can soak them overnight but this way is quicker. They take about an hour in the pressure cooker. You cook them with small bits of meat but in this case they used some fat. Saute green peppers, garlic, onions & cilantro & add to the beans when they're almost done. Remove the beans & add to blender. Strain over pot adding cumin, bay leaf & squash. They eat this as a soup or pour it over their white rice.
                  "Platano Maduro". I love these things, they're like natures candy. It's kinda like our banana, sweet & mushy. They just deep fry it until it becomes golden brown. So sweet.
                   "Chicharrita". They are like plantine chips. Just slice and fry. They start frying these things up hours before dinner is ready. It's the snack food that goes perfect with the Bucanero beer.
                   "Malanga". This root plant can be used in a number ways. Starchy, served mashed up like potatoes sometimes but tonight they made "Frittura di Malanga". After peeling the root, it's grated adding garlic & onion, chop together. When everything is mixed, add one whole egg & mix together making like a mash, form the shapes with a couple of spoons and fry. Everyone loves these.
                      "Yukka". Just boil it. I believe the key is to pick the right one. The sauce that's poured on top is; garlic puree, sour orange (or lemon) & vegetable oil. Just pour the heated sauce over the halved yukka.
                      "Roast Pork". This was more like something we would see. They used the rack with the steak. It was a beautiful piece of meat with a nice slab of fat on one side. They cooked it with; tomatoes, carrot, onion, butter and white wine, turning it occasionally. Once cooked, it's sliced & placed on a cooking tray. When the tray is full, the sauce with the chopped vegetables is poured over the meat & placed in the oven once again for a few minutes.

Dinner's Served

                     The Raw Dried Chicharo

The Sauce that will be added to the Chicharo in the Pressure Cooker

The Chicharo removed from the Cooker, strained & remaining ingrdients added

Platano Maduro


Malanga Root Cleaned

Malanga Peeled

Malanga Grated

Malanga with remaining ingredients preparing for frying

Yukka just boil

Yukka topped with sauce

Pork rack raw with garlic marinade

Pork rack first viewing

Adding Tomatoes

Turn the meat and vegatables over

Slice the meat and place on a baking pan

Top with vegetable mixture and bake for a few minutes more

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