Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March 22: Mashed Plantains with Oh, Baby! Garlic-Tomato Shrimp on Top, Grilled Flank Steak with Lime and Onions, and Quick Rice with Black Beans

7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus a little to drizzle
2 medium yellow onions, 1 finely chopped, 1 thinly sliced
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons dried thyme, chopped
3 cups chicken stock or broth
1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice
1 15-ounce can black beans
   Coarse salt
2 pounds flank steak
2 tablespoons grill seasoning, such as McCormick's Montreal Steak seasoning
1 lime, zested, cut into wedges
3 plantains
   Wax paper
1 small green bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound small shrimp, peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped
   Coarse black pepper
   Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
   Hot sauce, such as Tabasco, to taste

Heat a medium pot over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the EVOO, and half of the finely chopped onions.

Saute for 3 minutes, then season with 2 teaspoons of the cumin and the thyme leaves. Pour in 2 1/2 cups of the chicken stock and raise the heat to bring to a boil. Add the rice and lower the heat to a simmer when a boil resumes. Cover the pot tightly.

After 12 minutes, stir in the black beans and replace the cover.

Cook for another 6 to 7 minutes. Turn off the heat, season the rice and beans with salt, and stir to combine, then let stand until redy to serve. While the rice cooks, make the plantains with shrimp and the meat.

Preheat a grill pan over high heat. The meat can also be prepared in a hot large cast-iron or nonstick skillet if you do not have a grill pan.

Place the flank steak in a shallow dish and drizzle with EVOO to coat - about 2 tablespoons. Mix the grill sesoning with the tablespoon of cumin. Add the lime zest to the grill seasoning and cumin. Rub the mixture over the steak evenly. Place the steak on the hot grill or in the hot pan and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, then turn and cook for 3 minutes longer.

Remove from the heat and let the juices redistribute for 5 minutes.

Slit the skins of the plantains from end to end to vent them for microwave cooking. Wrap each in wax paper, twisting the paper at the ends. Microwave the plantains for 15 minutes together.

While the plantains and steak cook, place a medium nonstick skillet on the heat over a high flame. Add 2 tablespoons of the EVOO and the sliced onions. Sear the onions and heat through, but leave a bite to them.

Place on a serving platter and cover with foil to keep them warm. Return the pan to the stove and reduce the heat to between medium high and medium. Add 2 tablespoons of the EVOO and the remaining finely chopped onions, the bell peppers, garlic, and shrimp.

Season with salt and pepper and add the lemon zest. Cook until the shrimp are firm and the peppers begin to soften, 4 minutes or so. Add half of the lemon juice, the tomato sauce, and parsley. Turn off the heat. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

Peel and mash the steaming hot plantains with the remaining 1/2 cup chicken stock and a drizzle of EVOO.

Season the plantains with salt and pile on a platter or dinner plates, then top with garlicky shrimp and tomatoes. Very thinly slice the cooked steak on an angle, working against the grain. Squeeze lime juice over the meat and arrange over the reserved cooked sliced onions on the serving platter. Fluff up the rice and black beans a bit, transfer them to a bowl, and pass at the table. Pass the hot sauce at the table.


This meal, "Cuban via Miami Feast," is delicious. It's even better when you're listening to Gloria Estefan and 80's music :) RR says, "Gloria Estefan taught me how to cook plantains in the microwave and her husband, Emilio, gare me the urban, updated idea of lightening up some Cuban-influenced dishes. The result is this menu, my interpretation of Metro-Retro Cuban cooking. This dinner is also delicious made with seasoned grilled thin-cut chicken breast, seasoned in the same manner as the steak."

There are a few things you have to change to make the meal any good. First of all, she calls for green plantains and says to cook them for 4 to 5 minutes in the microwave. When I tried that last year, I kept having to cook them longer... after at least 30 minutes in the microwave, the plantains were still crunchy. Today I used almost-all-the-way brown plantains, and I cooked them for 15 minutes. They turned out perfect. I also used only 1 1/4 pounds of steak and about 1/2 pound of shrimp to cut back on the meat. She doesn't say what to do with the hot sauce, so I added to just pass it at the table. I cooked the steak on my new waffle iron/grill for about 10 minutes. I wanted to make sure it got well done (for my husband's sake). I changed the fresh thyme to dried.

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