Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Yuca'n do it!

Latin American cuisine is an art. Each dish has such charisma-- it's vivid flavors apparent in both taste, and sight. It's ingredients masking the truth of preparation, that has been passed down for hundreds of years. Sure you know what makes the dish- but how to make it is the real secret.

I had the pleasure of experiencing a real Latin American dish recently. In the past, I have had my fair share of Mexican food, which is one of my favorites. But this meal was on a whole different level. This cuban heirloom was a mambo on a plate. Los colores! los sabores! Fue increible!

The porkchops were mind-numbingly delicious. The rice and beans...even better. My mouth watered at the sight of the plantains. But the real scene stealer was the dish that should make every potato in the world jealous.

Yuca is the latin american equivalent of the potato. It is a light, fluffy root that when prepared in this dish, has a slight vinegar taste. It complimented all of the other sides on my plate- all the while, standing out in the crowd. I was so pleasantly surprised, I went back for fifths. Now, I don't come from a long lineage of latin american chefs- but I did manage to steal a few tips on how to make this succulent side. All you need is yuca, salt, olive oil, onion, garlic and lemon juice. Cut the yuca in long slices, and place them in a pan, with enough water to cover them. Stir in the salt, and let them come to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes, or until tender. Place the rest of the goodies in a frying pan, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Pour over the yuca and serve immediately.

If you want to accompany this root goddess with coconut rice and beans- more power to you!

Place a tablespoon of butter, a half minced shallot in a pan over medium heat. Stir until the shallot has turned translucent. (3 minutes.) add the 1 cup of rice, and stir until it is coated with butter. Pour in the 3/4 cup coconut milk, and 1 cup of water. You can add a pinch of nutmeg too, although it is not mandatory. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat- then reduce to a medium-low heat. Cover and simmer until the liquid has been absorbed, which is about 18 minutes. Add the can of black beans, and cook a few minutes until hot. Garnish with cilantro- cause even side dishes like to look goooood.

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