Yuca Frita Croquetas


Yuca frita is the crisper, starchier, and creamier brother of the papita frita, and is undoubtedly a Cuban staple either fried crisp or soft and sautéed with garlic and onion. Yuca is one of my favorite Cuban side dishes whether prepared as yuca hervida or yuca frita and now as yuca frita croquetas.


I first had yuca frita croquetas while I was interning for the South Beach Wine and Food Festival Rockin’ Beach Party made by Versailles– you can order them at their restaurant on Calle Ocho in Miami’s Little Havana, and they are amazing. I wouldn’t say it’s exactly a traditional Cuban dish, but it is freaking delicious and is made up of 100% Cuban elements. I couldn’t decide what to call these delicious wonders of the world…yuca frita rellena? Picadillo stuffed yuca frita croquetas? As you can tell I dig yuca, it is easy to make, tastes delicious, and its naturally gluten free.


Picadillo stuffed yuca croquetas are wonderous for two reasons: they are ideal for leftover picadillo and they are the perfect receptacle for cilantro garlic sauce (<3 Pollo Tropical you’ll always be my #1). The salted crisp yuca with the creamy citrusy cilantro garlic sauce is a match made in heaven that will have you reaching for more. I am pretty passionate about croquetas and these are a great party alternative to add to your repertoire (especially since they are pretty easy to make and use leftovers to boot)!


Yuca Frita Croquetas

Yuca frita croquetas are ideal with leftover picadillo, but you can make a fresh batch just for this and enjoy your picadillo before or after. I highly recommend using leftover since it is chilled and is easier to use as a stuffing.  Completely cover the yuca in salted water and bring the water to a boil (I did defrost mine over night, but the bag doesn’t say this is required). Cook the yuca on medium heat for 25-30 minutes until fork tender.


Once the yuca has coolded down enough to handle, remove the fibrous center of the yuca root. Next mash the yuca with a potato masher or potato ricer. It is best to do this while it is still warm. Don’t let it cool completely. Form the mashed yuca into similar shaped balls. Now work the soft yuca into a patty the shape of your palm. Wet your hands with water constantly to avoid the starchy yuca from sticking too much to your hands while forming the yuca frita croquetas. Add a tablespoon or so of Cuban picadillo to the center of the mashed yuca patty. Close the yuca onto itself and do the best you can to eliminate a seal using water.


Heat vegetable oil on the stove top. Fry the yuca frita croquetas till golden brown.* Drain on paper towels and garnish with sea salt right away. Before enjoying add a squeeze of lime. Yuca frita croquetas go best with pollo tropical inspirecilantro garlic sauce and a cold beer.


*Make sure to rotate the croquetas slowly instead of flipping roll them till they are brown all around. Sometimes the filling of croquetas can ooze out of the sides if the top and bottom are crispier than the sides.


Cuban Congrí aka Arroz Moro


Congrí called by any other name still taste as delicious…moros, congri, arroz moro, moros y cristianos…call them what you will- congrí is still a Cuban soul food staple to be enjoyed at any meal. This recipe is for a lazy person’s congrí. I feel accomplished enough when I cook nowadays, like I deserve a shiny medal for coming home exhausted from work and cooking an honest meal. I recently started working regular hours aka 7 to 6ish, and it is seriously more exhausting than when I was working irregular hospitality hours. I know, I know, everyone is rolling their eyes saying “We know this already Ash, the Monday to Friday hustle is brutal. Welcome to the club sister”. Well, I just got here so take pity on my newbie soul!

sofrito-and-beans sofrito-basegarlic-clove

My congrí is cutting corners, aka I am using canned beans. This won’t make your rice as black as traditional Cuban congrí or as dry, but honestly it tastes exactly the same. Making the beans is a mission and tacks on an extra 30 min to an hour (plus more dishes) and that is frankly time I just don’t have right now.


Arroz moro or congrí is my preferred Cuban side dish. I always order “moro y maduros” with any main dish- Churrassco, Palomia, Bistec Empanizado, or Pollo a la plancha are best with congrí. For some reason I wouldn’t have congrí with masa de Puerco, ropa vieja, or vaca frita but that is just me (and I like to think I am an expert ‘orderer’). Congrí is the red beans and rice to Cuban soul food, and makes me feel like there is a little slice of home right here in my kitchen. Short cut or not- this congrí is still damn delicious and has Cuban goodness packed into each bite.


Cuban Congrí aka Moros aka Moros y Cristianos

  • ½ green bell pepper diced
  • ½ red bell pepper diced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cumin (optional)
  • ¼ tsp ground oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 ¾ cups black bean stock
  • Pork chunks (optional)
  • Lime wedge garnish
  • Olive oil

Make the sofrito with the bell peppers, onion, and garlic. Add olive oil to a large pot and add the onion and bell peppers. Cook until translucent; add half the salt and pepper. Add 2-3 of the garlic cloves finely minced reserving some for later. Add the cumin, oregano, and bay leaf. Cook 2-4 more minutes. Drain the black beans and reserve the black bean liquid for later.

sofrito-ready-for-congrugreen-bell-pepper rice-for-congri

Add the rice stirring well for 2-3 minutes in the pot to incorporate the oil, sofrito, and seasonings (much like a risotto). Add the black bean water, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat. Cover with the lid and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the black beans and stir well. Cook for another 5-7 minutes.


After you have added the black beans, heat two teaspoons of olive oil or butter. Add the remaining garlic and quickly sautee. Set aside. When the moros are done stir in the sautéed garlic. Plate the congrí or arroz moros with a lime wedge on the side. Serve with your favorite Cuban dish like bistec empanizado, bistec palomia, roasted chicken, pollo a la pancha, or just enjoy with fried eggs like we did. Fried eggs are not a normal accompaniment, but I love them. Congrí goes great with platanos maduros or tostones as well.


Pumpkin Tres Leches


Pumpkin tres leches cake is a fresh twist on a Cuban classic that is the perfect dessert for this Thanksgiving or holiday season. I have been bitten by the pumpkin bug, and I am relishing unabashedly in fall flavor goodness. I made this pumpkin tres leches cake last year for Thanksgiving on a whim- haphazardly dumping ingredients I had on hand together…and behold! My glorious creation entered into this world doused in tres leches and ready to be dressed with whipped cream and warm caramel.


My recipe for pumpkin tres leches is semi-homemade, which means it is easier for you to make my friend. Make this dish a day in advance so you can relax and simply unleash the deliciousness on your family and friends stress free. I chose to serve this with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice since it was the easiest option, but you can dress this pumpkin tres leches up with merengue or whipped cream and a caramel sauce.

Pumpkin Tres Leches

  • 1 box French vanilla Duncan Hines cake mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 15 oz can pureed pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • ½ cup milk

Preheat your oven to 350F, and grease a Pyrex dish well (I used a 9×9). Sift the cake mix into a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, melted butter, spices, and pumpkin puree. Mix well using a hand mixer or KitchenAid being sure to scrape along the sides of the bowl. Pour the batter into the greased Pyrex dish and smooth out evenly. Bake the pumpkin tres leches for 35-40 minutes or until the center is set.


Pour the condensed milk, milk, and evaporated milk into a container and shake well. Poke 50-70 holes into the pumpkin tres leches using a toothpick or wooden skewer. Slowly pour nearly two-thirds of the tres leches over the entire cake so it can be gradually absorbed and does not pool. If there seems to be too much milk simply pour it off or wait a few minutes before adding more.


Tightly cover the cake and place in the refrigerator overnight.  Reserve and refrigerate the final third to use as garnish for plating.Cut the pumpkin tres leches into even slices. Pour 1 ounce of the tres leches onto the serving plate and plate the slice.


Add a dollop of whipped cream or alternatively top with a dollop of meringue and torch to a golden brown. I made the burnt sugar decor by heating sugar on the stove top till bubbling and golden. The directions can be found here in my Cuban flan recipe.