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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Capture the mood of Cuba with Ropa Vieja and Mojitos

Ropa Vieja is a Cuban dish served everywhere. Usually it is made of beef, but pork is sometimes used.
















I'm now working on my stories about Cuba for a series that will begin next month. Food was the focus of my people-to-people tour and I now crave some tastes I enjoyed there such as Ropa Vieja  and mojitos. You cannot buy the great Cuban rum in the this country but you can make Americanized versions of these foods for a flavor of Cuba. Ropa Vieja, Spanish for "old clothes," was also served to us using pork, a diet staple all over Cuba. We learned how to make both at the Artechef Cooking School in Havana.

ROPA VIEJA
4 pounds chuck or arm roast, well marbled
2 tablespoons olive oil for browning
1/3 cup flour to dust meat
1 green pepper, cut into chunks
1 onion sliced
5 cloves garlic chopped
     SAUCE
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, mashed with 1 teaspoon salt
2 green peppers, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil (for sautéing)
4 ounces tomato paste
1 (32-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 cup red wine
1 bay leaf
Salt and black pepper to taste
Do not trim excess fat from meat before cooking because it lends its flavor to the dish and can be removed when the meat is shredded.  Salt and pepper the meat and lightly dust with flour.
Brown  meat in oil in a large Dutch oven, adding  enough water to surround the meat, but not to  cover it. Add chunks of  green pepper, sliced onion, and garlic. Simmer, covered, until meat is fork tender, about two hours. (Add more water as necessary
Remove from heat and cool. Discard vegetables. Shred the meat with a pair of forks.
Sauté onions, garlic and green pepper in oil.   Add tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, cumin, red wine and bay leaf. Salt and pepper to taste.
Cover and cook on low for about 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaf and either  stir in the shredded beef or pour over. Serve over rice.
You can't buy Havana Club rum in the U.S. but mojitos made from it are staples in Cuba. Here a bartender lines up the drinks to prepare them for a group. 





MOJITO
(Makes one)
2 tablespoons white sugar (some bartenders use simple syrup)
Fresh mint
1 lime, cut in half and juiced with a fork
1/2 cup sparkling water
Bitters
Rum
Place sugar and mint in bottom of glass.  Add lemon or lime juice. Muddle mint with  a heavy wooden spoon, mashing it against sides of glass. Pour in sparkling water and two drops of bitters. Top off with 1-1/2 jiggers of rum. Garnish with mint sprig

 

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

testing

June 13, 2014 at 2:02 PM 
Blogger Theresa Neuhoff Audia said...

Mojitos sounds amazing. I'll have to try recipe. Theresa

June 13, 2014 at 3:39 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mmmmmm - Mojitos - my favorite summer drink. Rob

June 20, 2014 at 11:16 AM 

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