Papas Rellenas con Salsa de Aguacate
Recipe courtesy Sabrina Soto
For the Cuban picadillo:
2 cups diced white onion
1 small jar of pimento chiles
2 cups seeded and finely chopped green pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, for sauteing
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds ground beef
3 large Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup chopped green olives
1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
For the papas rellenas:
4 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 tablespoon warm milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
2 eggs beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil, for frying
For the avocado sauce:
2 ripe avocados
Freshly squeezed juice from 4 limes (just over 1/2 cup lime juice)
1 medium bunch of cilantro, leaves and upper stems, roughly chopped
2 jalapeño chiles, seeded
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher or coarse sea salt, to taste
To make the Cuban picadillo: Heat olive oil in in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, pimento chiles and green pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion has softened. Add the garlic and ground beef to the pan, stirring to break up the meat and combine it with the onion and peppers, and cook until the meat has browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cumin and oregano to the pan, stir to combine and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes to thicken. Stir in the olives and simmer 5 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To make the papas rellenas: Place the quartered potatoes in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are soft, then drain. Mash the potatoes with the salt and warm milk, and let cool enough to handle.
Grab a handful of the mashed potato mixture and form into a little “bowl” in your hand. Fill the “bowl” with some of the Cuban picadillo and cover with more of the mashed potato mixture - forming a ball about the size of a small baseball. Repeat until all the mashed potato mixture is used up.
Combine the bread crumbs and flour on a plate. In a small bowl, beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water.
Dip a ball into the beaten egg and roll to coat, then roll in the flour and bread crumb mixture until lightly covered. Dip the same ball, again, into the egg and roll a second time in the flour and bread crumb mixture to coat thoroughly. Repeat with each ball.
Refrigerate the balls for about 3 hours.
Add enough vegetable oil to a heavy skillet to come about halfway up the potato balls and heat over medium-high heat until hot, but not smoking, about 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully place as many balls into the oil as possible without crowding the pan, working in batches if need be. Fry the balls for about 2 minutes or until the submerged half is golden brown, turn the balls and cook another 2 minutes until golden brown. Remove the balls from the pan and set them on a paper-towel-covered plate or wire rack. Serve hot with avocado sauce on the side.
To make the avocado sauce: Place the avocado, lime juice, cilantro, jalapeño chiles, garlic cloves, olive oil and cumin and puree until smooth. Season with salt, to taste.
2 pounds flank steak, cut into 3- to 4-inch chunks
2 bay leaves
Half of a white onion
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
10 black peppercorns (optional)
1 pound tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 jalapeño or serrano chile, or to taste
1/3 cup coarsely chopped white onion
1 cup cilantro leaves and top part of stems
1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or more to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound baby red potatoes (if they are not so small, halved or quartered to be bite size)
Place meat in a soup pot or large, heavy pot along with the bay leaves, half an onion, 3 garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon salt and black peppercorns. Cover with water up to 2 inches above top of the meat. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, for 50 minutes to an hour, until the meat is thoroughly cooked and soft. Strain, reserving 3 cups of the meat cooking liquid. Once the meat has cooled enough to handle, shred it into pieces.
Place the tomatillos, 1 garlic clove and chiles in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook until the tomatillos have changed their color from bright green to pale green and are soft and thoroughly cooked but not coming apart, about 10 minutes. Drain and place in a blender or food processor, adding only one chile to begin. Add the onion, cilantro and salt to the blender and puree until smooth. Taste for heat, adding more chile until you have the desired amount of heat.
Heat the oil in a large casserole pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, pour the salsa into the pan, along with the potatoes and cook, partially covered, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 5 to 6 minutes. Toss in the shredded meat and pour in 2 cups of the meat cooking liquid. Stir and cook uncovered for about 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are completely cooked through and soft and the stew has thickened considerably. Add more cooking liquid if the sauce is thickening too much.
Serve with a side of warm corn tortillas.
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A Mexican immigrant cooking Thanksgiving and Hanukkah on the same night in the cold Eastern region of the United States may sound a bit odd to some. For me, it turns out to be an unexpected opportunity to bring all my pieces together. Which has my mind reeling about the just as unexpected possibilities for the menu.
See… ever since I can remember, I have felt like I am treading between worlds. The Mexican. The Jewish. The immigrant in the U.S. Not from here, not from there. Yet, as time goes by, the different parts of my identity feel increasingly solid, in all those worlds and their intersections. It turns out that where those intersections make the most sense is in the kitchen.
I admit, though, that I am a hopeless romantic. That’s why every year when my husband asks what I want for my birthday, I say: the most passionate love letter, ever. Haven’t seen it, since he has seen me everyday in one way or another for the past 17 years. So, when my birthday comes close, I offer to pack my bags and leave, just to pretend… so he can write that super duper passionate love letter.
Continue reading Potato, Sweet Potato and Granny Smith Latkes
CHUNKY CHIPOTLE MASHED POTATOES
Puré de papa con chipotle
3 pounds red potatoes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 chile from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce, or to taste
1 to 2 tablespoon chipotles in adobo sauce, optional
1/2 cup milk
Kosher or sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
Rinse and quarter the potatoes. In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook for about 15 minutes over medium- high heat, or until thoroughly cooked and soft. Drain.
In a large, heavy skillet set over medium heat, add the chunks of butter. Once it melts and begins to bubble, stir in the scallions and cook for a couple of minutes until they soften. Add the chopped chipotle chile and combine well. Add the cooked potatoes along with the milk.
Using a potato masher or a wooden spoon, mash the potatoes roughly as you mix them with the chipotle and scallion mixture. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve hot.
POTATO, SCALLION & CHORIZO CRISPY TACOS
Tacos Crujientes de Papa, Cebollita y Chorizo
1 lb red bliss potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
8 oz fresh, uncooked Mexican chorizo sausage, casings removed, coarsely chopped
8 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
1 tsp kosher or sea salt, or more to taste
10-12 corn tortillas
Safflower oil, for frying
Salsa verde or any salsa of your choice
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the potato pieces, once the water returns to a boil, cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Drain.
Place the chorizo in a large skillet over medium-high heat. As it cooks, use a wooden spoon or spatula to crumble it into smaller pieces. Once it browns and crisps, 5 to 6 minutes, add the scallions and stir to combine; cook for about 1 minute or until the scallions begin to soften.
Add the cooked potatoes and salt, mashing them into the chorizo mixture with a potato masher or a wooden spoon, for about 1 minute until well combined. Remove from the heat. Taste, add salt as needed.
Heat a dry, medium skillet over medium heat. Warm the tortillas in the skillet one at a time for 15 to 30 seconds on each side, to soften them for rolling.
Place a few tablespoons of the filling on each tortilla, and roll into a taco. Insert a wooden toothpick through taco pairs through thee seams to help them retain their shape as they cook. Place the completed tacos on a platter or tray with the seam sides facing down as you work. When they have all been rolled, finish the tacos by either frying or toasting them.
To fry the tacos:
Pour enough oil into a large skillet to a depth of about 1 inch, place over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, 4 to 6 minutes, fry the tacos in batches, placing them in the skillet, without crowding them. They oil should be bubbling as they cook. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes on the first side, until the bottom and sides have crisped and turned golden. Use tongs to turn over the tacos, cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels. Continue until all the tacos have been fried.
To toast the tacos:
Heat a large, dry skillet or comal over medium heat. Working in batches, place the tacos in the skillet. Let them toast and heat for about 3 to 4 minutes or until the tacos are browned and crisped, then flip to the other side and toast until evenly browned and crisp.
Remove all toothpicks; serve warm.