Tag Archives: yuca

Raw Yuca Casserole

21 Apr

In Spanish there’s a saying that goes…  “lo prometido es deuda…” meaning that what you promise is a debt you need to repay.  And I promised you ever since our first ever KarmaFree Cooking Class I was going to give you the recipe for the Raw Yuca Casserole or Pastelón de Yuca Cruda and I had failed to do so… until now.

This recipe comes from Mai, Angie’s grandma.  And Mai, may she rest in peace, was who taught us all to make this delicious pastelón.  We were going to perform a tribute to her yesterday at the end of our Easter Retreat, but rain prevented us from it.  So instead, I am honoring her by publishing her recipe for posterity and for all to enjoy.

Mai Clemente

Mai Clemente – Angie’s Grandma

We chose this recipe for our 1st ever cooking class for several reasons: 1) it’s different, 2) it includes typical flavors of Puerto Rico and 3) this is very similar to tasting the flavors of a yuca pastel, very typical during Xmas time, but without the effort of making into individual pasteles.

Don’t get discouraged by the name of the dish…  the cool think about this pastelón, different from other pastelones or other yuca recipes I have shared with you in the past is that you do not need to cook the yuca in advance to make this recipe.  The yuca is prepared raw and then cooked after it’s assembled as a casserole.  Check it out…

First Ever KarmaFree Cooking Class Menu

RAW YUCA CASSEROLE

7 lbs raw yuca
Annato Oil
2 tbs canola oil for sautéing
2 tbs salt, divided
1 can of coconut milk
2 cups of textured soy protein
1 jar of green olives and capers, pitted
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
2 packets of tomato sauce
½ cup of sofrito or recaíto
2 tbs Dry scallions
2 Bay leaves
 
  1. First you need to re-hydrate the textured soy protein in about 2 cups of water. For approximately 30 minutes.  After the soy has plumped, drain it and squeeze it dry well. And keep to the side.
  2. While the soy rehydrates, we prepare the yuca…
  3. Peel the yuca and take off the center hard vein that runs thru it.  Cut it into long pieces that are not too skinny.  Wash it well and grind it using either one of these implements – a Champion grinder, a hand grinder or the grinder attachment on a KitchenAid mixer.  Make sure to squeeze out as much liquid as possible using a large colander or even a clean cotton towel, because this yuca liquid makes the masa bitter.
  4. When the yuca is ground and squeezed dry, season it with the annatto oil, 1 ½ tbs of salt and the coconut milk.  Mix it all well so it has a beautiful yellowy color.  Set aside.
Photo provided by Adriana from GreatFood 360

Photo thanks to Adriana from GreatFood 360

Yuca Cruda, Casserole

Photo thanks to Adriana from Great Food 360.

5.  Now we move on to making the filling…  In a large skillet, add the canola oil and cook all together the olives and capers, sofrito, recaíto, the 2 bouillon cubes, the tomato sauce, dried scallions, bay leaves and ½ tbs of salt.  In the end, add the drained soy and mix everything together.  Allow to cook over low heat for about 10 minutes.  Stir every once in a while to avoid the soy mixture to stick to the bottom of the pan.  Turn off the heat and set aside.

6.  Now we put it all together to make it look like a pastelón…  Divide the yuca mixture in 2 halves.  Spread one half on the bottom of a 9”x 13” baking dish.  You won’t need to pre-grease it because the yuca masa has annatto oil in it.  But you can if you prefer.

Pastelon Yuca 2

Photo thanks to Adriana from GreatFood360

7.  Spread the soy mixture over the first layer of ground yuca as evenly as possible.

8.  Cover the soy mixture with the second half of the ground yuca.

Photo thanks to Adriana from GreatFood360.

 

9.  Cover the baking dish using a piece of parchment paper secured on top with a layer of aluminum foil.  Bake in a 350F over for approximately 30-45 minutes, depending on your oven.  Start checking the pastelón at the 30 minute mark and uncover it to make sure the consistency is cooked and the top dries and browns a bit.

10.  Let is rest for a few minutes after you take it out of the oven so that the yuca sets and it’s easier to portion and serve into pieces.

 

This is one of my favorite pastelones.  You can make the filling with anything you would like.  I personally like to substitute part of the soy protein with mixed vegetables.  It’s a way to give variety to the recipe.

I hope you like it as much as Angie and I we like it too… and thanks Mai for leaving us with a little piece of you though your cooking.

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Frozen Vianda

9 Aug

I mentioned you on my Yuca Alcapurrias post that if you did not have the equipment, muscle or simply, like me, you’re too lazy to grind yuca all by yourself… you can certainly use frozen ground masa already available at supermarkets.

I visited the supermarket the other day with camera on hand to show you the different kinds of masas available for you already…

You see, on the left,  you have masa for alcapurrias and/or pasteles… you also have ground yautía by itself which would be delicious for these yautía fritters Mili and I used to make at the Center. You also have masa made from green banana, great to make little dumplings and boil into a soup.

In this other photo, you can see the ground yuca in the center… flanked by yautía and green banana. These are just made from another company.

These are available in all major supermarkets in Puerto Rico… but I have also seen these in supermarkets in Miami.

If you rather make boiled yuca to eat with Cuban mojo, there’s also convenient yuca cut into pieces ready to boil. This is the kind I usually buy when I need to get my Cuban fix at home. At the Yoga Center we peel yucas. At home, I just boil the frozen stuff!!!!

Yuca Alcapurrias

6 Aug

When I traveled recently to Paraguay, we wanted to thank all the hospitality our Paraguayan friends showed towards us with a Puerto Rican dinner.  Well… almost Puerto Rican, because we had representation from every member of our group… a little from the Dominican Republic, a little from Brazil, a little that came from inspiration from the Coronel Oviedo market…  But amongst the dishes that were typical to Puerto Rico were our alcapurrias.

With the copious amounts of yucca we had at our disposal in Paraguay, we had to make some sort of fritter with yucca and what’s a better example of a Puerto Rican fritter than an alcapurria. I have tried to share with all of you an alcapurria recipe for a long time now. But, I do not make alcapurrias all by myself at home. Usually, this is a group project and even though they’re not super difficult to make, it goes easier if the tasks are shared.

Alcapurrias are traditionally made with a masa made from ground plantain and yautía. Yuca is also very traditional, so we are not deviating too much from a very traditional recipe here. But instead of filling them with ground meat, we will be using mixed vegetables. You could also use a combination of mixed vegetables and textured vegetable protein to resemble more the ground meat filling. These are amongst the most iconic fritters you can find here in Puerto Rico… present in almost every celebration, especially in patron saint festivities and even at the Luquillo Beach kisokos and Loíza.

This recipe comes from Yazmín and Joel, who were the master alcapurria fryers. My title is more master alcapurria eater. The best thing is to make a bunch of these at one sitting… fry some to eat immediately and any left over, freeze them for later frying. As with any fritter, they’re best eaten immediately after frying or else, they get soggy. They’re so laborious that is not something that you can whip up whenever you get the craving. This takes time… you’re all under advisement.

Joel frying some mean alcapurrias in Paraguay

In Paraguay, we were lucky we had a whole team helping with making these alcapurrias, especially to grind the yuca manually. In Puerto Rico, we have the help of a Champion machine where we grind the yuca and the moisture is separated from the dry masa.  But if the task of grinding yuca blows your mind, at the stores they sell frozen masa for alcapurrias or pasteles, ready to go. I’ve never used them, but I believe the only thing you need to do is thaw it completely and squeeze it as dry as possible and season it, just like I teach you here…

YUCA ALCAPURRIAS

Ground raw yuca, about 5 lbs of yuca, pealed and washed well
10 cloves of garlic, mashed in a mortar/pestle or in the food processor
2 ½ tbs salt
¼ cup of annatto oil
 
Mixed Vegetables Filling
1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1 large onion, diced
½ cup of tomato sauce
1 tsp Garlic and Herbs seasoning
Salt and Pepper to taste
Olive Oil
 
Canola Oil for frying
  1.  If you have a manual grinder use that to grind the raw yuca. If you have a Kitchen Aid with the grinder attachment, use that. If you have a Champion machine, use that. If you prefer to purchase the masa frozen from the supermarket, that’s perfect too.

2. After the yuca is ground, you should wring out as much liquid from it as possible with a cotton cloth or towel. The idea is that the masa is as dry as possible. If you skip this step, the alcapurria might fall apart when frying and that’s no fun after you’ve worked so hard to make these.

3. Season the masa with the mashed garlic, salt and annatto oil. Set aside.

4.  To prepare the filling… in a large skillet, add a bit of olive oil and sauté the onions for a while under medium heat until they soften. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5.  Add the mixed vegetables and the tomato sauce. Mix everything well. Season with salt, pepper, garlic and herbs. Mix once again. Cover the skillet to allow all the veggies to cook well and the flavor meld. Turn the stove off and allow the mixture to cool off a bit before we start assembling the alcapurrias.

6.  In another large skillet, add about 1 ½” of canola oil fro frying the alcapurrias in medium high heat. When the oil is ready, you can check it using the wooden spoon method, we start to prepare and fry the alcapurrias.

7.  With a large kitchen spoon, pour a spoonful of masa onto our other hand that’s covered with either wax paper, aluminium foil or even the traditional banana leaf. Spread the masa with the back of the spoon leaving some thicker borders. Add about 2 tbs of filling in the center of the masa and using the back of the larger spoon again work the thicker masa you left on the edges to cover over the filling. The idea is to surround the filling completely in masa. You might need to practice this a bit, and that’s perfectly OK.

8.  My friend Mai, places the waxpaper on top of a cutting board and folds the paper over so the masa envelops the filling. You almost always finish giving the alcapurria its form with the larger spoon.

9.  Helping yourself with the paper you have the alcapurria in, drop it carefully into the hot oil. Don’t touch it much as the masa is still soft and it can break open. With a spoon you can drizzle some of the hot oil over the alcapurria so the tp part that is not submerged in the hot oil can create a bit of a crust and make it less susceptible to the inadvertent touch of a spoon, etc. It’ll also make it easier to turn over later on.

10.  When the alcapurria is golden on the bottom side, turn it over so it can cook/fry on the other side. The oil should be hot, but not too hot to allow the masa to cook through. If the oil is too hot, it will get hard on the outside but the masa will remain raw. Not good… This is especially important if you’re cooking an alcapurria that has been frozen.

11.  When its golden brown all over, take it out of the oil with a slotted spoon and place it to drain the excess oil on top of paper towels.

12.  You can fry as many alcapurrias you can fit comfortably in your skillet. Don’t try to overcrowd the skillet so they do not fall apart when they’re just put into the oil. Two to three per skillet is the perfect amount. When you get the swing of it, you’ll become like an alcapurria-making machine. Keep on making alcapurrias until you ran out of masa and/or filling.

My mom organizing alcapurrias on some paper towels…

13.  Allow the alcapurrias to cool off for about 15 minutes before digging into them. This is a fried food after all and the insides get very hot and steamy. If you want, you could cut them open in half to allow them to cool off a bit faster.

To freeze the alcapurrias, all you need to do is to cut pieces of waxed paper to separate each alcapurria and place them one next to the other in a resalable zipped plastic bag. This way, when you get the alcapurria craving, you take one out and fry them or bake them in the oven, which turn out pretty good indeed. It’s the same principle as when we make tostones or soy meatballs ahead of time and freeze them.

Frozen alcapurrias stored in a freezer zipper bag

This is how a frozen alcapurria will look like… you can bake in an oven or fry.

I hope you like alcapurrias as much as Puerto Ricans love them. These alcapurrias as vegetarian, but taste just as traditional as any alcapurria made in Luquillo, Loíza, any patron saint festivity or school verbena fair.

Yucca and Soy Fritters

9 May

Paraguayans eat a lot of yucca… they call it mandioca and it’s a daily staple in their diet.

I was forewarned by my mom and other people who’ve been to the Yoga Center in Paraguay that I would have mandioca coming out of my ears by the end of our trip. To be honest… we ate mandioca in various ways, but I never felt overwhelmed by it.

One of my favorite ways to have yucca while we were in Paraguay was in a fritter form. Girl is Latin and we LOOOVE all things fried, no?

We made these as a form of karma yoga to help out an orphanage. My friend Ester and her husband help out this orphanage regularly and the organizer told them a few days prior that their pantry was empty and there are nothing for them to feed the kids with. So Ester and Ferreira rallied a few of us visiting them in Coronel Oviedo to help out the kids.  We made over 200 of these fritters… we only kept a few for ourselves and the rest was given to the kids.

They’re delicious. This is an adaptation of a local dish in Paraguay… the original name is in Guaraní, their native Paraguayan tongue. It’s traditionally made with ground beef but our version uses textured soy protein. The locals say the secret is in how you season it, because none of the non-vegetarians were able to tell the difference.

We did this recipe in very large scale as you will appreciate by the pictures… this is my scaled down version. You can certainly freeze the extra tortas and fry at a later occasion.  Thanks to Ester and Ferreira for the recipe…

YUCCA AND SOY FRITTERS

4 large yucca roots, peeled and scrubbed clean
1 cup of dry textured soy protein, soaked in 2 -3 cups of filtered water
1 green bell pepper, cut into pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into pieces
1 bunch of scallions, roots removed and cut in thirds
8-10 garlic cloves, peeled
1 ½ cups of soy sauce
About 3-4 cups of fine cormeal flour
Canola Oil to fry the fritters in
  1. First we boil the yuccas… after the yucca pieces are well-peeled, cut, scrubbed clean making sure the inner core with the tough thread removed, you put them in a pot with plenty of salted water to boil.

We peeled and cooked a whole "saco" of mandioca...

2. Cover the pot while boiling and reduce the heat once it’s reached a rolling boiling point to prevent the bottom pieces from scorching. Boil the yucca pieces until they’re fork tender.

3. After the yucca is cooked, allow it to cool off and dry out a bit over clean kitchen cloths or towels.

4. While the yucca cooks we prepare the sofrito and the soy protein…

5. Using a hand grinder we make the sofrito by mixing the green and red peppers, the garlic cloves and the scallions. Using the hand grinder gives you a coarser texture than using a food processor. But if you don’t have a grinder, pulsing the veggies in your food processor will do just fine. Pulse until the mixture is well ground but not liquidy yet. Set aside.

6. The soy protein should be left to soak in the water for about 30 minutes. After it has soaked for that long and it’s now soft and tripled in size, drain and squeeze it dry. I use a fine mesh strainer and squeeze it using my fist. It does not have to be bone-dry, but it should not be wet and dripping.

7. Place the dried-out soy protein in a large bowl. Add about 1 cup of the sofrito mixture you created. Save any leftover unless it’s just a small amount and just add it up. Add the soy sauce to season and mix everything well. Set aside.

8. Now that the yucca has cooled off, we grind it using the hand grater. This is a labor of love, but you’ll be rewarded for your efforts afterwards. It’s not so bad doing a smaller batch like this one. But we made it for 200+ fritters and we had to take turns grinding yucca. So don’t be surprised with your arm hurts a bit afterwards.

9. After the yucca is ground, add it to the soy mixture. You can add it in batches while you’re grinding it. The yucca is very starchy and it’ll mix into the soy better if it’s just ground. The best way to mix this is using your very clean hands. Mix together the yucca and the soy until you have a homogeneous mixture that’s more yucca than soy.

10. Add about 1 cup of the fine cornmeal and mix well once again. We’re ready to make the fritters…

11. Prepare a tray with some cornmeal in the bottom. The mixture is sticky and the cornmeal will prevent them from sticking too much to the tray or your hands.

12. Using a generous amount of corn flour, create tennis-sized balls. Use plenty of corn flour… don’t be afraid to use it. After a ball is created, pat it into a patty. Set aside on the corn flour dusted tray. Keep making fritters until you run out of mixture.

13. In a large skillet filled with about 1 inch with oil over medium high heat, we fry the fritters. After you put them in, leave them until they develop a crust on one side. They’re soft and they’ll break apart if you move them around before once side if crispy. Sometimes it helps if you do not crowd the pan too much and if you spoon some of the hot oil over the fritter so that the top side hardens just a tad bit before flipping.

14. Flip them carefully using a spatula and fry golden brown on the other side.

15. Drain over a clean paper towel over a tray… wait a bit until they cool off to take a bite.

These fritters are a bit of a labor of love… but they’re well worth it. If you’re Paraguayan and know the name in Guaraní of this fritter, please share it with us in the comment section. GRACIAS!!!

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