Recipes From The Heart No. 4

Most of us will enjoy Sunday’s Super Bowl at home, far from the magic that Tampa offers. Perhaps its a good time to substitute the wings, chili, tacos and Bud Lights with food and drinks that have an affinity for the romance and flavors of this alluring Florida city. Cuban food is loaded with flavor and Cuban cocktails connect us with the romance and daring of Ernest Hemingway.

Cuban Arroz Con Pollo

2 to 3 lbs. Chicken pieces (I prefer boneless, skinless, breasts, but always include thighs and/or drumsticks with bones and skin – they add to the flavor)
4 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 large onion (diced)
1 bell pepper (diced)
1 small can tomato sauce
1 jar red diced pimientos (reserve a little bit for garnish)
1 can peas (reserve about a third for garnish)
1 can asparagus (cut up)
½ tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Pepper
2 Bay leaves
1 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Oregano
2 cups dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
Bitter Orange (powder or marinade)
Olive oil
3 cups rice (long grain)
1 tsp. Goya Seasoning con Azafran
3 or 4 threads of saffron – crushed (this is optional)
1 – 8 oz. beer

1) Prepare the chicken broth

2) Coat chicken pieces with bitter orange spice or marinade along with the pressed garlic cloves and marinade for about an hour. (not necessary, but it’s awesome if you have the time)

3) Brown chicken in large frying pan in olive oil – remove to a large pot (or cazuela) after they’re browned.

4) To make the sofrito: sauté the onion & pepper in the frying pan (with the bits of garlic and olive oil) until soft, then add tomato sauce, pimientos, peas, asparagus (all with their liquid) salt, pepper, bay leaf, cumin, oregano, wine & broth.

5) Pour in the rice and add the Goya Seasoning and saffron to color and flavor the rice.

6) Pour all of this over the chicken in the pot.

7) Bring to a boil, then lower to a fast simmer.

8) Cook on medium-low heat for about 40 minutes, then check it and stir it. Rice should be soft and liquid absorbed. If there’s still liquid, keep cooking, checking, & stirring.

9) Pour reserved peas and pimientos as a garnish over the finished arroz con pollo.

10) Pour beer if desired for more liquid.

Cuban Avocado Salad

2 ripe avocados, sliced
1/2 large sweet red onion, sliced into rings
Sea salt
Fresh cilantro, chopped

Dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 3 limes (about 1/4 cup)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 packet of Sazón Goya Complete

Salt & pepper to taste

1) Blanch the bell pepper by putting in a small bowl and microwaving on high for about 40 seconds. Let cool.

2) For the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, Sazón Goya Complete and the cooled red bell pepper.

 3) Arrange red onions on a plate, top with sliced avocados.

4) Salt the avocados.

5) Pour dressing over everything.

6) Top with fresh cilantro.

Cuban Sandwich

The Cuban Sandwich is always delicious.

Ingredients:

1 loaf Cuban bread
1-ounce regular mustard
4 dill pickles
5 slicees of cured or Virginia ham
2 slices roast pork
1 slice imported Swiss cheese
1-ounce butter

Cut Cuban bread to desired size, common size is 7 inches. Next, slice open the bread down the middle. On the topside of the bread spread 1-ounce of mustard, evenly across. Then place 4 pickles on top of the mustard. You then place 1 slice of Swiss cheese on top of the pickles. Slice ham to desired thickness, recommended size is 1 1/2 ounces per slice, the thinner the better. Now fold each slice of ham in half and place evenly on bottom of bread. On top of the ham, place slices of roast pork, 1 1/2 ounces per slice. You then join both halves of the sandwich. You are now ready to grill your Cuban sandwich.

Use a sandwich grill if you have one, a waffle iron if not. Spread butter on top of the bread evenly. Close the grill, smashing the sandwich. Leave sandwich in the grill until top of bread turns to a golden brown, and top is crisp. Approximate time is 4 to 6 minutes. After the sandwich is crispy and the cheese has melted, remove the sandwich carefully and slice it diagonally, from corner to corner.

Cake Emborrachado

Cuban Rum Cake will be a hit!

Ingredients:

12 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 egg whites
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups flour, sifted
2 tablespoons butter, softened for greasing the pan.

Syrup:

4 cups sugar
2 cups water
1/4 cup of good rum
1 stick cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375°F

Butter a 9 x 5 x 3 inch (23 x 13 x 8 cm) loaf pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and lightly coat the parchment paper with butter.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Beat egg whites until fluffy, adding sugar very slowly, then the yolks one by one. Finally, add dry ingredients and vanilla.

Pour mix into buttered loaf pan. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until the top of the cake is golden brown. A toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean.

Allow to cool, then un-mold from pan. Slice into single serving pieces.

Syrup:

Mix all ingredients well, cook on top of the stove for 10 minutes without stirring. Pour on top of the pound cake pieces until they are very well soaked. Place in refrigerator and serve cold.

The Cuba Libre is a classic cocktail.

Sir Verde’s Wine and cocktail suggestion: A chilled Albariño from Spain. Cocktails: Keep it real-Cuba Libre and PapaDoble.

Stay safe. Bonne dégustation. Love one another.

Old school journalism describes the style and stories produced by Doc Lawrence. “In everything I do,” he says, “there is a beginning, middle and an end.” One of the top travel writers in the country, Doc is steeped in the heritage of the deep south. Traveling the back roads from Texas to Virginia and on down to Key West inspires stories about local food and wine preferences, community theater, folk art and music often leading to clues for a good story. Heroes include Faulkner, Hemingway, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Ralph Ellison, Dorothy Parker and Willie Morris. An Atlanta native, Doc keeps a well-stocked wine cellar and bar and two outdoor grills. He enjoys entertaining and believes that the greatest challenge for a writer is to keep searching for a higher life. www.thegourmethighway.com | doclawrence@mindspring.com

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