Sunday, January 22, 2006

Monkey Does Havana

I am pleased to announce that the finger wounds that I sustained the other evening were substantially better by this afternoon. Only a few bandaids and a pitty party before I was back into full form. And thank you, faithful readers, for the care and concern.

Now, before we begin today, let me just start by saying that I am a bad, bad Cuban (or semi-Cuban, or demi-Cuban, or 'un poquito' Cuban, or etc. etc). I've never truly learned to cook Cuban food. Nor, up until recently, had I ever cared to.
Yep, I said it.
Technically, I have a variety of excuses at my disposal, should I ever be required to use them (i.e. being only half Cuban, knowing only a limited amount of Spanish...). But feeling rather comfortable with all of you in this blogosphere, I'm inclined to come clean. No excuses here.
This evening constitutes my second or third time making Arroz con Frijoles Negros (Black Beans and Rice) from scratch, and it was certainly my first time making Carne Frita (Fried Beef). But, if I do say so myself, it turned out pretty good, as well as authentic.
So through my guilt and shame, I have managed to find redemption. I can finally call myself a true Cuban. Oh, and I'm going to have to pick up that whole "talking way too much" thing. But, maybe on a later date.

Cuban Black Beans

Cuban Black Beans with Carne Frita

The night before:
Boil a 1 pound beef brisket in a stockpot with 12 cups of water, 4 bruised garlic bulbs, 1/4 cup dehydrated onions, 1 Tbs. peppercorns, 3 bay leaves, and 2 Tbs. Sea Salt. Bring down to a simmer and let cook for about 4 hours. Remove the froth that forms immediately at the top with a slotted spoon, and repeat every hour or so. Let cool and place stock pot (meat and broth) in refrigerator over night. Remove layer of solid fat from the top the next day. Strain liquid into a separate container.
The broth will be used in your beans and the beef will be fried. Get it? Cool.

So here's the recipe.

Frijoles Negros
1 lb dry black beans, soaked overnight
10 cups of beef broth (or water)
2 cups of water
2 bay leaves
2 cups Sofrito, minced in a food processor
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3/4 cup bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 Tbs. cumin (an un-authentic addition)
1 1/2 tsp chili powder (also an un-authentic addition)
1 Tbs. white vinegar (or 2 Tbs. cooking wine)
1 tsp salt
handful of raisins (optional)*

Carne Frita
1 pound beef brisket, cooked and cut into 1 inch chunks
1/2 cup almond oil*
Kosher salt

1. Place the ingredients for the beans in a stockpot and cook on medium-high heat for 1-2 hours.
2. Serve with a side of white rice, avocados and tomatoes.

1. Place oil in a deep skillet over high heat.
2. When oil is very hot, place enough pieces of meat to coat bottom of pan.
3. Fry for 2 minutes, and turn to fry second side.
4. Place on dish covered with a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt.
5. Repeat process for remaining meat.

*Monkey Notes:
Refined Almond Oil has become my new best friend. It contains mono-unsaturated fat, which is one of those 'good-for-you' fats, it's light in color and virtually odor free, and it has a high flash point; making it a perfect alternative for frying foods. It tends to be a bit pricier than regular vegetable oil, but trust me on this. It doesn't make your house smell like a fast food joint after you've fried an okra or two. That, and you can actually taste the flavor of the food you fry versus tasting the oil.

*And what's with the raisins? Well, I figure raisins make any dish better. Even in the most unsuspecting application, these black little tasties of delight can bring a 'pop' to your dish that makes the crowd wonder "What was that little 'pop' in my dish?"
And how would I respond? You got it! My shriveled up little packages of sweet joy, the raisins.
I'll stop now.


At 6:34 PM, Anonymous Mom said...

Almont oil, huh? I'm going to have to do my research on this.


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