Ajiaco – The National Dish of Cuba

Ajiaco (Cuban Creole Stew) is considered the national dish of Cuba. The recipe began as a kind of stew in which all kinds of ingredients consisting of meats and vegetables from the three cultures that influenced Cuban cooking- European, African and Native Indian – were added to the pot, which made it uniquely Cuban.

Many Cuban American households have also kept the tradition of preparing and serving this delicious and healthy stew. Other Latin and Central American countries have their own version, but this is the recipe for the Cuban version.

 

Ingredients:

¼ pound salt-dried beef, desalted (tasajo)

3 ½ quarts of water

½ pound flank steak cut into 2-inch chunks

1 pound beef short ribs cut into 1 inch slices

1 bay leaf

1 medium-size yellow taro (malanga) peeled and quartered

1 large green plantain peeled and cut into 2-inch rounds

1 large sweet potato (boniato) peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks

1 large white malanga (taro root) peeled and quartered

1 tropical yam (ñame) peeled and quartered

1 large very ripe plantain, peeled and cut into 6 rounds

1 cup peeled and seeded 2-inch chunks calabaza (squash)

2 large ears of corn, husked and cut into 2-inch rounds

 

Sofrito Recipe:

¼ cup pure Spanish olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 to 2 cloves of garlic

½ medium-sized green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped

¼ cup drained and chopped canned whole tomatoes or tomato sauce

½ teaspoon ground cumin

 

Instructions:

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, combine the dried beef and water, bring to a boil, and simmer covered for 1 hour. Add the flank steak, short ribs, and bay leaf. Reduce the heat to low and cook for another hour. Skim off any scum that comes to the surface.

Prepare the sofrito. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil until fragrant then reduce the heat to low and cook the onion, garlic, and bell pepper. Stir until tender for 6 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cumin and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Over low heat, add the sofrito to the meats, stir, and add the vegetables in 5-minute intervals in the order listed. Simmer, covered for 45 minutes, then add the corn, and cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy.

Buen provecho.

 

 

 

 

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