Cuban Cuisine/dinner party/roasted pig
August 13, 2008 10:31 PM   Subscribe

Suggestions for authentic, delectable, non-time invasive Cuban food, fun, and festivities.

we have a dinner party for a baker's dozen every week. we have never done Cuban, and so I proposed it for this Saturday. Roasted pig is already on the menu. I have 3 DVD's of Cuban music, 10 CD's, and 7 cookbooks. However. I want to ask, at this late hour 30 mins before bedtime, if anyone has suggestions. Mainly a recipie you've used (not one you find on the net, I have hundreds), specific music, and, perhaps, cigar suggestions.
How can we make this awesome for less than 150 bucks?
posted by dawson to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
After I saw "Once Upon A Time in Mexico" I had a hankerin for this dish. Wikipedia lists it as technically a mexican dish but it's got Cuban elements to it. I couldn't find anatto seeds but I cooked a 4lb pork butt with garlic, about 5 limes, a few oranges, paprika, red pepper flakes, cumin, cayenne, onions, and salt and pepper. I also didn't chop the pork, just threw the whole butt in the oven after marinating for about 4 hours. It turned out pretty good, slow cooked it for about 5 hours covered in foil, than shredded it like you would do for a pulled pork sandwich. I don't know where you live so getting a whole roasted pig might be tough but I've never looked for one so I don't know. I served it up with some lime/cilantro rice and black beans, mmmmmmm. I remember watching an episode of "throwdown" with Bobby Flay too, the challenger used the whole pork butt and slow cooked it in a smoker thing, it looked really really good and I'm sure the recipe is on the Food network site if you searched for Cuban Roast Pork Throwdown.
posted by BrnP84 at 11:02 PM on August 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Cubans sometimes mix Frijoles Negros (black beans) into rice and that dish is called 'Congree' or 'Moros y Cristianos' (Moors and Christians). Somebody explained to us that Congree is made with black beans and Moros y Cristianos are made with brown beans... or maybe it's the other way around. Either way it's really good. This recipe tastes like Cuba, honest.

Frijoles Negros
The secret of good black beans and many other Cuban dishes) is a slow-cooked sofrito of onions and scallions, garlic and green peppers.
1 1/2 lbs. dried black beans
1 bay leaf
Sprigs of fresh oregano

4 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. ground cumin
12 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
8 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Sort through beans, discard any small stones, then rinse under cold running water.
Put beans, bay leaf, oregano and 1Tbsp. of the oil into a large pot, then cover with cold water by 3". Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, adding more water as needed to keep beans covered until beans are tender (about 2 hours). I've considered soaking beans overnight and shortening cooking time but haven't tried it that way. Should work though.

2. Heat remaining 3 Tbsp. of oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add cumin, scallions, garlic and green peppers, and saute - stirring often - until peppers are soft and scallions are golden. (20 minutes or so..). Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add to beans. Continue cooking beans, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Remove bay leaf before serving. Serve with white rice.

Traditionally, Cuban food isn't very spicy but sometimes someone has a bottle of hot sauce and that adds a good kick. Hope you like it.
posted by lois1950 at 12:21 AM on August 14, 2008 [2 favorites]

Medianoches sandwiches (scroll down) for the afterparty (using the leftover roast pork).
posted by Rock Steady at 5:13 AM on August 14, 2008

Seconding the medianoche and black beans and rice (the recipe above looks fine to me). I'd also suggest looking into ropa vieja, a flank steak dish. The recipe I use is the one on "Memories of a Cuban Kitchen," which you can search-inside from Amazon to get the recipe for. These are all very cheap dishes.

Also, you need, need, need to learn how to make a cafecito - one of those powerful tiny coffee-shots. I don't do coffee, so it's not in my repertoire, but someone else here should be able to help...
qualifications: studied in Cuba. ate lots of Cuban food.
posted by whatzit at 5:38 AM on August 14, 2008

No cuban meal is complete without fried plantains.
There are two ways to prepare them:
Use ripe, almost black plantains to make maduros. Remove peel and slice into diagonal slivers, around 1 in thick, then pan fry in olive or vegetable oil, turning once. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. They will be soft and salty sweet delicious.


Use unripe, green plantains to make tostones. Remove peel and slice into thick rings. Pan fry, turning once. Then, remove from oil, place on cutting board, and smash them using a rock or a rolling pin. Fry again, turning once. They will be crispy and salty.

You can prepare them in advance and heat them in the oven before serving. Maduros make a great side dish, whereas tostones can be served as an appetizer with some sort of dip or queso fresco.
posted by emd3737 at 6:30 AM on August 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh god, how could I forget fried plantains! Seconding emd3737, too.
Maybe I forgot them because there aren't any in this here forgotten country... *sigh*

Anyway, about the maduros: I was taught not just to sprinkle salt on them, but rather to soak them in salt water before frying them. I found it to be much more pleasing that way.
posted by whatzit at 6:42 AM on August 14, 2008

Also, you need, need, need to learn how to make a cafecito - one of those powerful tiny coffee-shots.

The easiest way is with a stovetop "espresso" maker (moka pot). Make coffee with it as you normally would. Put 2-3 Tbsp of sugar into a large coffee mug or other heatproof container. When the coffee is ready, moisten the sugar with a little bit and beat it into a frothy paste. Mix in the rest of the coffee, then decant into demitasses.

I was actually just thinking about cafe cubano last night. It used to be a weekend routine for me, one that I haven't done in a very long time. I'll have to make a pot this weekend.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:53 AM on August 14, 2008

About twice a year I make 2-3 quarts of mojo sauce, which is very versatile and freezes easily for whenever you need it. The time investment on the front end is a little more substantial, but then you have it for use and I've found it to be very tasty in the preparation of bone-in pork, bone-in chicken, and congris.

I'm not a Paula Deen fan (forgive me, wife) but this recipe worked well for us without too much monkeying around

Daisy Fuentes on Paula Deen
posted by mrmojoflying at 7:01 AM on August 14, 2008

Yes! Seconding the black beans and rice and tostones. My abuela, mother and myself make our black beans with a little garlic browned in olive oil, a few tablespoons of diced onion, more olive oil, some chopped green pepper, a bay leaf and some salt and pepper. My abuela adds all of that to an undrained can of black beans and simmers for about 20 minutes. My mother and I do the same, but we partially drain the beans and add a little more olive oil for a slightly pastier result.

For dessert you could either make flan a day in advance and refrigerate it or serve guava paste and cream cheese. I like the guava sold in broad, but flat, round tins. Just open the tin, cut the paste into wedges and serve with a spoonful of cream cheese.

My mom makes the best ham croquettes. If you want the recipe mefi mail me and I'll give her a call. Also, I have a decent recipe for Cuban bread that I've used a few times. I'd be happy to dig it up if you're interested.

Oh, and whatever you serve, make sure that you have a bowl of lime wedges out for your guests. I would say that those are used much more frequently in Cuban meals for flavoring than hot sauce; a squeeze of lime on pork or beef really gives it the right seasoning.
posted by Alison at 7:10 AM on August 14, 2008

nth-ing plantains. Great food. Takes some doing to think of them as a vegetable and not a banana, but well worth it.

Cuban coffee has something special about it, which I think is partly down to the sugar. If anyone has any hints I'd be grateful. [I'm assuming it was the sugar as coffee with sweetner just tasted like coffee...]

On a Sandals holiday in Cuba (so really authentic, honest) they had a gala night with food that the maitre'd woman insisted was genuine special event Cuban food. They stars of the show for me where the Moors and Christians (from above) and a thick rich oxtail stew which I would kill to have again.

Our Cuban cookbook at home (which is probably about as Cuban as me) has a great simple recipe for a Cuban meatloaf which is basically minced pork and beef, a chilli, some bread, and an egg, which you then roast as a free loaf shape and baste with a mixture of rum, pineapple juice and sieved tomatoes. I'll see if I can dig out the book tonight.

Alison, if you're emailing that bread recipe, could I stick myself on the list?
posted by twine42 at 8:09 AM on August 14, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks to all y'all, some great replies and ideas here! I could pretty much mark everything as a best answer. I'll try to remember to post the eventual menu here, and I'm thinking Cuban will become part of the regular 'ethnic cuisine dinner party' rotation.
would verily love to live in Cuba for a year
posted by dawson at 10:13 AM on August 14, 2008

This Ropa Vieja recipe is one of my faves. It's a good Sunday afternoon dish. I know you didn't want 'net recipes but this is one I've used and have saved to my favorites. You might also want to make a little cafe con leche for after dinner.

For music: I love anything by Celia Cruz (the beloved daughter of Cuba) and Buena Vista Social Club.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 12:45 PM on August 14, 2008

Best answer: Okay, this is probably too late, but I wanted to experiment with my 'decent' Cuban bread recipe before posting. My usual way of making Cuban bread results in a tasty loaf that tastes like traditional Cuban bread, but I end up with a thick crust and the wrong texture, so I wanted to make a few changes before following up.

First, I found a recipe with a lot more yeast to make the bread a lot more bubbly and airy. Next, I changed the way I baked the bread and used a narrower loaf that I could cook in less time; I was stupidly using a loaf pan before. I found a recipe that reflected these changes here and made a few loaves this Thanksgiving. So far, this is the closest thing I've found to the bread baked in Little Havana.
posted by Alison at 9:32 AM on December 1, 2008

« Older working with tar archives...   |   Name that building! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.