Thursday, March 24, 2011

March 23: Ropa Vieja Joses (Cuban Sloppy Joes) with Smashed Yucca, Sliced Tomatoes, Plantain Chips, and Mojo Sauce

2 pounds yucca root, peeled and cubed with a very sharp knife
   Coarse salt
10 garlic cloves, smashed from their skins
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
   Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
1/4 cup green olives with pimiento, finely chopped
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1 cup tomato sauce
   A palmful of grill seasoning, such as McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning
4 crusty rolls (Look for Cuban or Portuguese rolls, which are slightly sweet, but good ole kaisers will work fine, too.)
2 large dill pickles, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 sack plantain chips
2 beefsteak tomatoes, sliced

Place the peeled yucca in a small pot and cover with water.

Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Salt the water and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. The yucca will not become as soft as a potato, just tender to the fork tines.

While the yucca cooks, make the mojo sauce. Place the garlic and onions in a food processor with the cumin, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

Turn the processor on and stream in the EVOO and 1/4 cup water.

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the mojo.

Heat for 15 seconds, then add the beef and begin to break it up. Brown and crumble the meat with the mojo for 3 minutes.

Add the olives with pimientos, the paprika, Worcestershire, hot sauce, tomato sauce, and grill seasoning. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes.

Split the rolls and pile the bottoms with hefty spoonfuls of the meat mixture. Cover the meat with sliced dill pickles and the tops of the rolls.

Drain the yucca and return it to the warm pot. Add half of the remaining mojo and mash.

The yucca will break down a bit and become creamy and sticky but not smooth - like mashed potatoes with some soul. Season up the cooked yucca with salt and divide it among the dinner plates alongside the Sloppy Joses. Serve the plantain chips and sliced tomatoes alongside to finish your plates. Season the tomato slices with a pinch of salt and drizzle tiny spoonfuls of raw mojo sauce over the chips when passing out the plates.


This is a pretty good meal, and I think I like Cuban food. At least Rachael Ray's version of it. I never made this meal with the Yucca before. It has an interesting taste. The part that didn't break down was pretty much inedible (too hard to chew), but the rest of it was starchy and creamy, just like she says: "Yucca is yum-a! Cooked up, it tastes like a creamy, starchy cross between a turnip and a potato. You'll find it in the produce department near the root vegetables or in any Latin market. If your market does not carry yucca, cook up some peeled sweet potatoes and follow the method detailed above." That's what I did last year. I like the more authentic flavor of the yucca. I could not find plantain chips, and I didn't want to use banana chips because there is so much added sugar, so I used sweet potato chips. They were so good! But I didn't put much of the mojo sauce on top. It was very bitter raw. I probably should have used a white onion rather than a yellow one. The sandwiches were very good. I used Hawaiian rolls, which are probably similar to the Portuguese ones. The only thing about this meal that wasn't fun was peeling and cutting the yucca. They are very hard!

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