There is a direct line from our senses to our memories – especially smell and taste.
The comments I have gotten so far in response to this feature attest to that. The smell and flavor of Cuban food has a certain distinction. It is inexorably linked to our best memories of family – safety and comfort and all things familiar.
I was hesitant at first to share my recipes, because we Cubans are sooo opinionated about everything. Especially our food.
“NO ONE makes (fill in the blank with your favorite Cuban dish) like my abuela.”
And you know what? It’s true.
My four kids will tell you the same thing about me. They think I am an amazing cook and will eat just about anything I serve them. The only things they ever question are what they consider to be “Guajiro Food” or what’s known in my house as “War Hero Food.”
War Hero Food falls under the following categories:
Anything thick or with texture.
Puré or Potaje.
Does it involve root vegetables?
Can it be eaten with either a spoon OR a fork? =D
This particular blend of tastes actually surprised them. (“Hey, Mikey!”)
I know all you Babalú War Heroes will enjoy it, too.
Tamal en Cazuela
1 lb. Lean boneless pork shoulder cut into very small bite-size cubes (or you could just grind it – I prefer the bits of pork)
3 cloves garlic – finely chopped
Juice of 1 or 2 limes
3 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 small onion – finely chopped
¼ green bell pepper, seeded & finely chopped
2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
1 cup dry white wine
1 tsp. cumin
1 ½ cups yellow corn meal
2 (14 oz.) cans sweet CREAM STYLE corn
2 cups water
½ tsp. Pepper
1) Squeeze the lime over the pork bits and garlic. (I LOVE lime in anything – so to me, more is better.)
2) In a large frying pan, brown the lime-drenched pork with the chopped garlic over medium-high heat. (careful not to burn the garlic, or it will get bitter.)
3) Turn down the heat and add olive oil, onion, and bell pepper and sauté until onion is translucscent.
4) Add tomato sauce and wine. Let it simmer on low while you prepare the corn mixture:
5) Mix together the corn meal, cumin, salt, pepper, and sweet creamed corn – put it in a food processor or blender and let it whirl until it’s well blended and you get a thick liquid.
6) Put this mixture into a big pot. Add the water and stir together. Add the contents of the frying pan.
7) Cook over medium heat until it starts bubbling (just a few minutes). Then simmer on low for about 20 minutes stirring often to keep from sticking.
When you can do “The Amazing Spoon Trick,” you’ll know it’s done. =D