Yuca Hervida ~ Cuban Boiled Yuca

Yuca hervida is a Cuban side dish that can be enjoyed with any meal but especially at Noche Buena dinner, a Cuban Christmas Eve tradition. Fried, mashed, or boiled, yuca is soft and supple when cooked. For yuca hervida the starchy root vegetable is boiled to tender perfection and prepared with a generous garlicky mojo. Although red onions make for a more beautiful yuca hervida, my family makes yuca hervida with white onions. Despite its dull appearance with the white onion and garlic mojo, yuca hervida is full of flavor and is a classic Cuban comfort food.

Yuca is my favorite stubborn, sticky starch. Hard to cut and covered in skin, yuca takes a bit of time, love and prep to get ready for boiling. I typically purchase frozen yuca, which is already peeled and divided, and tastes just the same. Apparently the layer between the woody brown skin of the yuca root and the tube can be poisonous, I recently learned this so you should wash the yuca well and cook thoroughly. Boiled yuca is the starting point for many Cuban dishes and I have made this recipe many times, and I love the gummy, carby bite of boiled yuca.

Yuca Hervida ~ Cuban Boiled Yuca

  • 2 lbs yuca peeled cut in quarters (fresh or frozen)
  • Juice of 1 sour orange or lime
  • 1 thinly sliced onion onion
  • Salt
  • 7 cloves of garlic
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • Crushed chicharron optional

Cover the yuca in water and add the the juice of half a lime and salt. Boil until the yucca is fork tender about 20 minutes. When the yuca is fork tender drain the water and let cool slightly. Remove the tough center fiber from the yuca chunks. It will easily come out of the yuca once it is cooked. The yuca will be very sticky.

While the yuca is cooking begin making the mojo. Mash the garlic cloves with a mortar and pestle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and a teaspoon of salt. Set aside.

Heat olive oil on low heat in a frying pan, add the onion and sauté slightly. The onions are best on the raw side, and really add a lot of emphasis to the flavor of the yuca hervida. Set the onions aside.

Add the mashed garlic cloves to the pan and stir. Add the juice of the rest of the sour orange juice to the pan. Sauté the yuca hervida for two to three more minutes. Gently add the yuca to the pan and toss in the garlic mojo 5 minutes making sure to evenly coat the yuca in the mojo.

*I have had yuca hervida with red onion instead of white onion and prefer the look although this is more traditional for the Dominican Republic.

**Crushed chicharron (or pork cracklins) garnish is great for added texture on the Cuban boiled yuca.

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Guava Margaritas with a Smoky Salt Rim

up-close-and-smoky

My guava love saga continues with tequila, grand marnier, and a smoky salted rim. The brief appearance of spring in New York City has lifted my spirits and instantaneously put a skip in my step. Spring is that magical time of year when the city comes back to life and the parks and rooftops are brimming with pale New Yorkers. As the bodegas fill up with tulips and daffodils, I feel inspired wear espadrilles and to sip spirits in the sun. Guava margaritas will have you celebrating spring and cure your winter blues in one smoky sip.

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Tequila reminds me of Miami and bright beach days with dirty coronas and late nights. In these guava margaritas, the sweetness of the guava is offset by the smoked paprika and the hot cayenne in the salted rim. I topped this spring cocktail with grapefruit soda, but prosecco or champagne would be killer. Apparently it is set to snow this Sunday, so I’ll enjoy this sunny spring preview with smoky guava margaritas and homemade Cuban food.

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Guava Margaritas with Smoked Salt Rim

Makes 2

  • 4 ounces tequila
  • 1 ounce grand marnier
  • 2 teaspoons guava marmelade or guava sauce
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Top with grapefruit soda, prosecco, or champagne

Smoked Salt Rim

  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne

Mix the salt rim ingredients on a flat plate. Run a lime over the rim of the glass and salt the rim. In a shaker over ice add the tequila, grand marnier, guava marmelade, and lime juice. Shake well and pour over fresh ice in the salted highballs. Top with a floater of grapefruit soda (I used San Pellegrino Pommelo) but prosecco or champagne would work well. Garnish the guava margaritas with a lime wheel and cheers to spring!

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Note: Mezcal would be amazing in these guava margaritas, but I had silver tequila on hand. I bet this could also be batched as a signature cocktail for a spring or summer party using both grapefruit soda and prosecco to make plenty for a crowd.

picture-perfect

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Cuban Mojo Marinade

Fresh-ingredients-for-the-mojo

Cuban ingredients are evading me in New York City. Although I have lived abroad, I never realized how difficult it can be to find integral Cuban ingredients, mainly because I wasn’t looking for them then. Now that I am looking for certain items (mojo, iron beer, mamey, sour oranges, etc.) they simply aren’t there. For a brief second I thought of going to Miami impulsively for a two-day stint to load up on real Cuban bread, mamey, anones, and croquetas galore.

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I have to be honest with you- my search didn’t begin with fresh ingredients to make homemade mojo. I was looking for the bottled stuff- Mojo Criollo either from Badia or bust (full disclosure: I’m actually not getting paid by Badia, it’s just my jam). When I realized this Cuban kitchen staple was not readily in supermarkets I was aghast- “No, Morton Williams, I do not want bottled Goya salsa! Where the hell is the mojo!?”. Thankfully it turns out you can mix lime and orange juice as a substitute for the real stuff.

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Homemade mojo marinade can be used on pork, chicken, duck, beef or fish. I’ll be using the leftover lechon from the mojo pork roast to make tamal en cazuela later this week. Hunger took over once the mojo roasted pork was ready so there are no beautiful blog-worthy pictures, only the lingering sensation of home.

Homemade-Mojo-finished-product

Homemade Mojo Marinade

Yields: about 2 ¼ cups of mojo marinade

  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • ½ large Spanish onion, diced
  • 1 tsp ground oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground onion
  • ½ tsp ground garlic
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ¼ cup sour orange (or 2 parts lime juice to 1 part orange juice.
  • ¾ cup Spanish olive oil

Smash and peel the garlic cloves and place them in the food processor with the diced onion and dried spices. Traditionally one would use a mortar and pestle, but I can’t seem to find mine. Blend everything into a paste and scrape down the sides with a spatula to ensure everything is blended well. Whisk the spiced garlic paste with the sour orange juice in a glass bowl to make the mojo base. I went on a quest in the lower east side to find sour oranges in vain. I ended up juicing 3 large limes and 2 Florida oranges which gave me an exact 2 to 1 ratio to make the sour orange substitute. Allow the mojo base to sit for around 30 minutes.

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Heat the olive oil to around medium heat and then remove from the burner. Let the olive oil to cool or 5 minutes or so before carefully whisking in the mojo base. I used around ¾ cup of this marinade for half of a chicken for roasting. Allow the protein of your choice (chicken, duck, beef, pork, tofu, etc.) to marinate for a couple of hours or even better- overnight to marinate in the delicious garlic and citrus mojo marinade.

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