CUBAN

Cuban Style Tasajo Made With Dry Cured Beef Is So Good!

Tasajo is made from jerked beef that’s stewed in a tomato-based sauce with lots of peppers and onions. I love this dish! Every time I have a bite of Mami’s tasajo, it brings me back to the Formica dining table in our old duplex in Westchester, one of the most Latin neighborhoods in Miami (outside of Little Havana and Hialeah, of course). What I love about this dish is the saltiness and the texture.

How to best describe tasajo? It’s the salty cousin to Cuban ropa vieja. While using the same ingredients and preparation as ropa vieja, the texture and taste are transformed by the salting and drying process.

dry cured beef

What is Tasajo Cubano?

Tasajo is beef that is salted, macerated, cured, and set to dry. It does not require refrigeration and it’s a throwback to time when most homes did not have a way to refrigerate foods. Horse meat was traditionally used in Cuban tasajo, but the tasajo you find in the US is made with beef, and that’s the one I grew up eating.

You may be able to find tasajo in the meat section of your local supermarket, but not always. You’ll have much better luck finding it in Latin supermarkets, sold in vacuumed sealed packages. But if you can’t find it locally, you should be able to purchase it online. (I have not purchased from this company before and this is not an affiliate link.)

tasajo

Start this recipe the day before

Not gonna lie, this dish takes a while, but it’s worth it! First, you need to remove it from its packaging and soak overnight to remove some of the salt. The tasajo meat is covered in an orange layer of fat. The orange color is due to the beta carotene.

You can remove this layer of fat and soak it, but I don’t usually bother removing it (call me lazy… but Mami does it the same way). For those of you who are more industrious, you can remove the orange layer by scraping it off and washing with warm water. Divide the meat into 2-3 pieces, cutting against the grain.

Cooking and prepping

The next day, drain the tasajo and place in a pot with fresh water. Turn up the heat until the water begins to boil. Lower and simmer for 20 minutes or so. The orange layer will melt away. ­Drain and repeat the process, boiling for another 20 minutes. Drain once more and let it cool. If you’re in a hurry, you place it in the refrigerator to cool.

Once cooled, shred the meat with your fingers and remove any fatty pieces you find. Taste for saltiness and rinse over warm water if it’s too salty for your taste. From this point on, the process is very similar to making ropa vieja.

Cut half an onion, and a red bell pepper into slices and crush two garlic cloves. Set a sauté pan over medium heat, add a few tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the onions and peppers until translucent. Add the crushed garlic and cook for another minute. Then, add the tomato sauce, cooking wine, cumin, oregano and pepper. Add the shredded beef and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Adjust seasonings as needed and serve. Que rico!

tasajo

What To Serve with Cuban Tasajo

Serve this dish with congri rice and boniato, a Cuban sweet potato. The dry, cured beef is rather salty so the mild flavor of the rice and beans and the sweetness of the boniato truly balances the dish… and I would argue it’s a must. 

You can make congri rice with black beans or red beans. For this blog post, I paired this dish with the red bean congri, but it’s just as tasty with the black bean congri. Actually, the black bean version, also known as Moros y Cristianos, is the more popular rice dish.

boniato

Boniato is a Cuban potato that is white and slightly sweet. If you can’t find it, substitute with sweet potato. You can cut into chunks or rounds and boil it, roast it, fry it or stew it along with the meat. If you decide to stew it, you’ll need to add a little more sauce to the dish, so double the tomato sauce and cooking wine. Also add a bit of water if you notice the sauce is drying up.

bean train food for thought

As I was working on this recipe, I thought about the importance of balance. The salty tasajo really needs the counterpoint of the sweet boniato to really shine.

We all need a little balance in life, like ying and yang, sweet and salty, fire and ice.

Community helps us find this balance. Friends, family and significant others require us to make changes, to compromise, to let go of some things to accommodate others. We may not always like how messy this can be, but just like with cooking, a messy kitchen can lead to a spectacular feast.

So the next time you’re wishing someone would see things your way, do things your way or let you have your way,  just think of how delicious it could be to embrace a different perspective, a new approach, a road less familiar to you.

Savor every moment, every bite, every fork in the road.

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tasajo

Cuban Style Tasajo Made With Dry Cured Beef Is So Good!

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: Soak overnight, 15 minutes of prep
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Cuban

Description

Tasajo is dry cured beef that’s stewed in tomato sauce with onions, red bell peppers and savory spices. It’s the salty cousin to Cuban ropa vieja. 


Ingredients

Scale

1 lb tasajo (dry, cured beef) See note

½ a small onion (1/2 cup), chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Half a red bell pepper, cut into strips

½ cup tomato sauce

2 tablespoons cooking wine

½ teaspoon oregano

½ teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Instructions

Tasajo Prep:

Start the day before. Remove the tasajo from its vacuum sealed package and cut into 2-3 pieces, across the grain. Set in a bowl and cover with water and let it soak overnight. You can leave it out or refrigerate, whatever you prefer.

The tasajo is covered with an orange fat layer. You can rinse this off or leave it on, either way it’s OK.

The next day, drain the water. Add the tasajo to a pot filled with water. Boil for 20 minutes. The orange layer will melt away.

Change water and bring to a boil and boil for another 20 minutes.

Remove the beef from the water and let it cool. Shred the beef with your fingers and remove any fatty tissue.

Chop the onion, cut the red bell pepper into slices, crush the garlic.

Take 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté onions and peppers until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the beef, tomato sauce and cooking wine. Cook for about 15-20  minutes (if it’s a bit dry, add a ¼ cup of water).

Serve with congri and fried boniato. See note.


Notes

Tasajo is sold in vacuum sealed packages, and it’s covered with a bright orange layer of waxy fat. Don’t be put off by this, this layer helps preserve the meat and it melts away when you boil it. You should be able to find this specialty beef at most Latin supermarkets.

Boniato is a Cuban sweet potato that’s traditionally served with the tasajo. The sweetness of the potato helps balance the saltiness of the beef. If you can’t find boniato, substitute with sweet potato. Cut the potato into chunks or quarter inch think rounds, then roast or fry. You can also boil the potato (I never boil, though. It’s so much tastier when it’s fried or roasted.

Keywords: tasajo, cuban tasajo, tasajo cubano, cured dry beef

Cuban red beans and rice

I love Smokey Arroz Congri, (Cuban Red Beans and Rice)

I love, love arroz congri made with red beans, Spanish chorizo and salt pork. There are different variations on this dish, but what I love about Cuban red beans and rice is the smoky, salty flavors of cured meats mixed with cumin and oregano. It’s perfect with chicken, beef, and pork. 

Cuban cooking is very non-nonsense, easy to make and easy on the budget. With one bag of red kidney beans and three cups of rice you can make enough servings to feed 10 – 12 people, so you’re sure to have leftovers. 

Congri Cubano

Chorizo is The Key Ingredient in Cuban Red Beans and Rice

You want to use Spanish chorizo for this recipe. This sausage is cured and can usually be found in the same section as pepperoni. You may also come across Mexican chorizo in your search, but that’s usually raw and tastes very different. If you can’t find the Spanish chorizo at your local supermarket, you can buy it from Amazon. I like to use the Palacios Brand for my recipes. 

Salt pork is used in Southern cooking so it’s easy to find in most supermarkets. If you don’t have it, you can substitute bacon (but you may want to make some extra… it’s hard not to eat it while you’re cooking!)

Soak And Cook The Red Kidney Beans

It’s really tempting to take a shortcut and use canned beans to make this arroz congri, but you get the best results when you cook the beans from scratch. The bean broth adds a lot of flavor that balances the spices and the saltiness of the chorizo and salt pork. 

The biggest time issue is soaking the beans for a few hours before you start the cooking process. If you plan ahead you can soak beans in the morning or the night before. 

You don’t absolutely have to soak the beans, but it is recommended. My mom always did it this way and it turns out it’s for the best. Soaking the beans helps remove some of the harmful anti-nutrient compounds, plus it reduces the complex sugars that can lead to gassy side effects. 

The process of cooking the beans is easy. You just bring the beans to a boil, throw in half a whole onion, half a whole bell pepper, a few bay leaves and garlic cloves and set to simmer. It takes about 1-2 hours on the stove top, but you can shorten the time using an instant pot. To check them for doneness, take a few beans out, run it through some cold water and taste it. It should be soft but not mushy.

Cuban red beans and rice

Do This While the Red Beans Are Simmering

When the beans are almost ready, start prepping the rest of the arroz congri ingredients.

Chop the rest of the white onion and bell pepper and crush two garlic cloves. Cube the salt pork into quarter inch pieces and slice the chorizo into half-inch rounds. Rinse the rice.

Once the beans are cooked, strain the beans and reserve in a separate container. If you leave the beans in the hot liquid, they will continue to soften and can turn mushy.

Heat a skillet over medium heat, add a little water and cook the salt pork. Once the water evaporates, add a little olive and cook until golden brown. Throw in the onions, peppers, and garlic and sauté for a few minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the chorizo and cook just a bit to release some of the color. Then add the rice and sauté for a few more minutes. 

Add the bean broth and the beans, bring to a boil then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about half an hour, or until all the water is absorbed. You won’t be using all the beans and the broth, so that you can use freeze the leftover beans and broth to make this recipe again.

arroz congri

Batch and Freeze for Ease (Sorry for the cheesy line, but I couldn’t resist!)

This recipe takes a little time, but it’s worth it. You can shorten the time by cooking the beans the day before. The simmering is super low maintenance and can be done while you do other things. And since this recipe makes about 14 cups of arroz congri, you can freeze what you don’t use for the next time. I do that all the time, it freezes well.

Cuban Congri Rice
Cuban Black Beans and Rice

Try Cuban Congri Rice is Made with Black Bean Too

A very popular version of Cuban congri rice is made with black beans. While it’s a similar cooking process, the flavor is different and relies more on the salt pork. I love this version too, especially with lots of crispy tocino (salt pork) on top!

bean train food for thought

It felt so good to work on this post! I’ve had quite a few changes in my life during the last year and it caused me to stop blogging altogether.

The last time I was cooking in the kitchen with Mami, I made congri rice and tasajo (recipe coming soon). I thought I’d get to post it back in January, but instead I had to pack all my kitchen stuff for a while. I’ve moved twice during this time and I’m currently in the middle of a kitchen renovation. OMG! 🤯 I have NO KITCHEN right now and haven’t cooked in months.

The process of preparing this post made me feel like my life was getting back to normal. By normal I mean I was going back to a place and activity that makes me feel connected and happy.

Whatever changes, ups and downs life brings, we need to make an effort to stay grounded and connected… with the people, places and things that bring us joy and peace. It’s OK to wander for a bit in the midst of change, in fact, it may be just what you need. But it feels so good to come home again. 

Whatever is going on in your life, take the time to feed your soul. You’ll need the nourishment to welcome growth and opportunity. Taking care of yourself is not selfish, it’s the best gift you can give the people you love. 

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arroz congri

I love Smokey Arroz Congri, (Cuban Red Beans and Rice)

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Soak Time: 6 hours
  • Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 7 hours 25 minutes
  • Yield: 14 cups 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stove
  • Cuisine: Cuban

Description

This Cuban red beans and rice recipe is packed with salty, smokey flavors of Spanish chorizo, smoked paprika and salt pork. It’s the perfect complement to your favorite chicken, pork and beef dishes!


Ingredients

Scale

1 bag uncooked red beans (14 ounce)

1 medium onion, divided in half (you’ll chop one half and leave the other half whole)

1 medium red bell pepper divided in half (you’ll chop one half and leave the other half whole)

5 garlic cloves 

3 bay leaves

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon paprika (I like to use smoked paprika for this!)

2 teaspoons salt

5 ounces Spanish chorizo (about 2 sausage links)

3 ounces salt pork

3 cups uncooked white rice

3 tablespoons olive oil or pork fat


Instructions

To Cook the Beans

Soak beans for 4-6 hours or overnight. (See note below.)

Drain the beans and add to a cooking pot with eight cups of water. 

Add half of the onion and bell pepper to the pot. Don’t chop the onion and peppers in this step, because we’ll want to remove the pieces once the beans are cooked. 

Add three garlic cloves and two bay leaves and set the beans to boil. Once it begins to boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Check for doneness after an hour and keep checking until the beans are soft enough to be mashed, but not mushy. They should still have bite to them, like al dente pasta. 

If you’re using an Instant Pot affiliate link, cook for 12 minutes.

Remove the onion, pepper, garlic cloves and bay leaf. Drain the beans and reserve the liquid (bean broth). You want to make sure to separate the beans from the bean broth. Otherwise, the beans will continue to cook in the hot liquid and can become mushy. You want them to be just a bit undercooked because they’ll finish cooking with the rice. 

You’ll need 2 ¼ cup cooked read beans and 4 cups bean broth.

You can use the leftover beans and broth to make a half batch of red bean soup, or you can freeze the beans and broth in separate containers to make this congri rice again. 

To Make the Arroz Congri

Chop the other half of the onion and bell pepper and crush the remaining garlic cloves. 

To a skillet, add the salt pork with ¼ cup water over medium high heat and cook until water evaporates and the fat renders. Add 3 tablespoons of pork grease or olive oil and cook until the pork is browned. 

Add the onions, garlic, red bell pepper and sauté until softened. Add the chorizo and cook for about 1 minute.

Add the rice, cumin, black pepper, paprika, bay leaf and cook for 3 minutes. Add the broth and the beans. Add the 2 teaspoons of salt and taste. Adjust seasonings as desired. My mom’s recipe is a bit light on the spices, so feel free to add more to suit your preference. 

Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to medium low and cover. Cook until the water is absorbed, and the rice is cooked. About 25 minutes. If you find that the rice is not done, just add about a quarter to a half a cup and continue to cook until done. Check it every 10 minutes. 

Makes 14 cups rice



Notes

You don’t absolutely have to soak the beans, but it is recommended. Soaking the beans helps remove some of the harmful anti-nutrient compounds, plus it reduces the complex sugars that can lead to gassy side effects. 

Cook time shown is based on using an Instant Pot affiliate link. Add an extra 1 1/2 hours if you’re simmering the beans on the stove top. 

You can freeze leftovers and reheat it in the microwave. I like to place a damp cloth over the rice to keep it moist as it cooks, it also keeps the beans from bursting. 

Keywords: ipe for red beans and rice, arroz congri, congri Cubano, Spanish red beans and rice, Cuban red beans and rice, congri recipe, Cuban congri, recipe for red beans and rice

chicken soup

This Cuban Chicken Soup Makes You Feel Loved!

Comforting Cuban chicken soup is on every abuela’s arsenal! This is the cure if anyone has a cold or is just a bit under the weather! Chicken noodle soup seems so basic I almost didn’t add this recipe to the blog, but it’s my favorite soup and it just takes me back to my childhood and feeling loved on when I had a cold. Lots of love goes into making this Cuban chicken soup and even if it doesn’t cure the common cold, it cures the common cold blues.

While it’s packed with love, this homemade Cuban chicken noodle soup is super simple to make. The first time I made it on my own, I got it all wrong because I added too many seasonings, and the broth was not clear and golden like Mami’s. It didn’t taste anything like her Cuban chicken soup.

chicken soup

Cuban Chicken Soup Like Mami Makes

I called Mami to see where I had gone wrong. Here’s what she told me:

  • Use dark meat with the bones to make the soup. This is what gives the broth such a great flavor. 
  • Add onions, garlic, green peppers, tomato, carrots, celery, culantro and and bay leaves to the chicken and simmer for an hour. Culantro is a long leaf often used in Cuban cooking. You can find it with the other herbs. But if you can’t find it, don’t sweat it. I don’t always add it.
  • Strain the soup and press all the vegetables through a sieve to get all the flavor out of it. Mami likes to use a pestle to squeeze every bit of flavor out of the veggies and into the soup.  
  • Then add potatoes, fresh carrots, corn cobettes, and noodles. Add salt to taste. Chop the chicken and add it back into the soup. 

I made a few of my own edits to her Cuban chicken soup. I use red bell pepper instead of green pepper, and I add some saffron threads at the end. It gives the soup great flavor and a nice, golden color. Mami uses Bijol, a red food coloring used in many Cuban dishes. But I don’t like using the coloring, so I usually use paprika and/or saffron for flavor and golden color. Saffron is used in Spanish cooking, especially in making paella. But I love the flavor so much, I add it to many dishes, including chicken soup.

chicken soup

The Best Noodles for Cuban Chicken Noodle Soup

Cubans use fideos to make this chicken soup. These noodles are as thin as angel hair and are shaped into little bundles. You can make it with angel hair pasta, but I really love using these! Maybe it’s because I grew up eating them, or maybe it’s because they look like little birds’ nests. I like my soup with three little bundles, which I break up just before adding. If you can’t find these in the grocery store, you can also make it with angel hair pasta. If you use angel hair, break up the noodles before adding them to the soup.

This Cuban chicken soup really hits the spot when you’re sick! But really, it hits the spot all the time, especially with a thick slice of buttered Cuban bread.

So, I made my Cuban chicken noodle soup today. When my daughter walked into the kitchen and smelled it, she wanted to know who was sick. Yea, I pretty much make this soup when someone is sick. But, I should make it more often because it’s delicious!

Bean Train Food For Thought

Food associations are so strong! I have such vivid memories of having a comforting bowl of my mom’s delicious Cuban chicken soup when I was sick. It made me feel loved and cared for. So, I do the same thing for my kids. But I really shouldn’t wait until they’re sick to love on them with this soup.

Sometimes we save certain things for special occasions, but every day can be remarkable. Life is too short to limit the good stuff for just sometimes. So this Cuban chicken soup, hugs and kisses, and quality time are for every day because every day is special. ❤️

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chicken soup

Comforting Cuban Chicken Soup Is Just What The Doctor Ordered!

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 90
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: soups
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: cuban

Description

This Cuban Chicken Soup is comforting and satisfying! It’s perfect for a cold day or when you’re feeling under the weather. 


Ingredients

Scale

For the stock:

1.5 lbs skinned chicken thighs  

1/2 medium onion, cut in half  

2 celery stalks, cut in half with the leaves  

3 garlic cloves, peeled  

2 culantro leaves (see note)

1 tomato, cut in half  

1 carrot

1/4 bell pepper (green or red is fine)

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon salt

For the soup:

1 small potato, peeled and cut into one-inch pieces  

2 carrots, sliced into quarter-inch rounds

4 corn cobettes  

2 to 3 bundles of fideos (see note)

One pinch Saffron affiliate link threads or a teaspoon paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

Lime wedges for serving


Instructions

Make the Stock:

  • Fill a stockpot with water about 3/4 full (approx 12 cups). Add the chicken, onion, celery stalks, garlic, tomato, carrot, bell pepper, culantro and and bay leaves. Bring it to a boil, and lower the heat and simmer for an hour. 
  • Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon, then strain the stock. Mash the vegetables through the strainer with the back of a spoon or a pestel. Scrape the bottom of the strainer, too. This will help capture every bit of flavor. 

Make the soup:

  • Peel and cut the potatoes into one-inch pieces. Peel and slice the carrots into quarter-inch rounds. Chop the chicken into bite-size pieces. 
  • Add the broth back to the pot and then throw in the potatoes, carrots, corn, and a pinch saffron threads or a teaspoon of paprika. Bring to a boil, add the noodles and cook until the noodles are softened. Taste and add salt as needed necessary. 
  • Now about the corn. I usually take these out and cut the corn kernels and add them back to the soup. Or you can leave the cobettes in. I like using corn cobettes instead of frozen corn because the husk gives the soup extra flavor.
  • Serve with Cuban bread, of course! 

Notes

You can use Latin-style fideos or angel hair. The amount of noodles will vary based on how you like your soup. I use 3 little bundles of fideos because we like it with a lot of noodles. You can substitute about 2-3 ounces of angel hair pasta. 

Culantro is an herb used in Cuban cooking. It has long leaves and can usually be found with the other herbs. But if you can’t find, don’t sweat it. 

Keywords: Cuban Chicken Soup, Cuban Chicken Soup Recipe, Cuban Chicken Noodle Soup, chicken noodle soup, homemade chicken soup

Cuban Meringue Cookies

Sweet and Easy Cuban Meringue Cookies (aka Merenguitos)

These meringue cookies, known as merenguitos, are a traditional Cuban cookie that’s easy to make with just five ingredients! It’s the perfect treat to whip up with the leftover egg whites you’ll have after making crema de vie (aka Cuban eggnog). Crema de vie and merenguitos are quite pair at Christmas time!


You can find these little merenguitos at most grocery stores in Miami, but I don’t really like the store-bought ones because they are very crisp. I like them when they are slightly crunchy on the outside, and the inside is soft and chewy, just like a marshmallow. You can control how crispy they get by the amount of time you bake them.

meringue


5-ingredient Meringue Cookies

These little meringue cookies have no flour… you just need egg whites, sugar, vanilla and cream of tartar. I like to add a little flavored liquor like Amaretto, but it’s not traditional. You can also add a little colored sugar crystals to match your theme, like these red crystals for Christmas.

Just whip the egg whites until foamy, add the sugar gradually and beat until stiff peaks form. You know the meringue is stiff enough when it can hold its shape when the whip is turned upside down. Then, add the vanilla, Amaretto (if using) and cream of tartar, and beat another thirty seconds.

You can spoon the egg whites onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, or you can use a pastry bag to pipe the meringue into pretty, little fluted mounds. I used a Wilton 1M tip to do this.

Next you can sprinkle tiny sugar crystals on top, then stick in an oven set to 200 degrees, and cook for 45 minutes. If you want them to be a bit crisper, you can leave them in the oven until they are cooled.

Cuban Meringue Cookies


Fun Variations For the Merenguitos


You can have some fun with these! Add other great toppings such as unsweetened flaked coconut, cocoa powder or cinnamon. I use unsweetened since the meringue is sweet enough.

You can also fold in a bit of food coloring to the meringue before piping if you want pastel-colored merenguitos. These are fun at baby showers!

And you can also sandwich two merenguitos with a little dulce de leche. Really addicting this way!

merenguitos
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Cuban Meringue Cookies

Sweet and Easy Cuban Meringue Cookies (aka Merenguitos)

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 45
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 28 1x
  • Category: cookies
  • Method: baking
  • Cuisine: cuban

Description

These meringue cookies, known as merenguitos, are a traditional Cuban cookie that’s easy to make with just five ingredients! It’s the perfect treat to whip up with the leftover egg whites


Ingredients

Scale

4 egg whites

1 cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

Pinch salt

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon amaretto (optional)

Parchment paper


Instructions

Preheat oven to 200 degrees

Place the egg whites and a pinch of salt into the mixer and mix on medium for 2 minutes until the egg whites are foamy. Increase speed to high and gradually add the sugar ¼ cup at a time. Beat the egg whites with the sugar for about 6 minutes until stiff peaks form. The egg whites should hold their peaks even when you turn the whites upside down. Add the cream of tartar, amaretto liquor and vanilla and beat for another 30 seconds.

Pipe meringue into little mounds.

Optional: Sprinkle with sugar or shredded coconut.

Bake for 45 minutes. Let it cool in the oven.


Notes

For softer meringue cookies, remove the cookies from the oven to cool.

Keywords: Merenguitos, Merenguito Cubanos, Meringue Cookies, Meringue cookie recipe, Vanilla meringue cookies

noche buena menu

Cuban Noche Buena Food To Make This Year

Enjoy a traditional Cuban feast with these Noche Buena recipes made from scratch. Noche Buena in Spanish means “Good Night.” And it is a good night surrounded by friends, family and fantastic Cuban food!

I’ve put together a Noche Buena menu for you with traditional Cuban dishes, desserts and more. I hope you enjoy making these for Christmas!

Our traditional Cuban Christmas Eve Dinner includes:

Lechon Asado

Roast Pork

Congri

Black Beans & Rice

Yuca with Mojo

Starchy Yuca Vegetable with Garlicky Citrus Sauce

Caramel Flan

Here are all the Cuban food recipes you need to make the best Noche Buena feast this Christmas!

¡Buen Provecho!

Cuban Roast Pork “Lechon Asado”

Cuban Roast Pork

Cuban roast pork is as Cuban as it gets, folks. This traditional Cuban dish is known as lechon asado in Spanish, and it’s the go-to feast for every special occasion, especially Noche Buena. It’s served for Christmas and, in many Cuban homes, for Thanksgiving, too! The pork is marinated overnight or even longer and then cooked until it falls off the bone and the skin is super crispy.

The Best Cuban Congrí Rice (Black Beans And Rice) 

Congri Rice

Congri is my favorite Cuban side dish to make for Noche Buena. This is Mami’s best beans and rice recipe and the one that her kids and grandkids want to learn and pass down. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, my brother calls from North Carolina asking how to make it. It’s the best! But some folks prefer to have their black beans and rice cooked separately. If you’re one of those, I’ve got a black bean recipe for you as well.

Yuca With Mojo Is A Must For Noche Buena

yuca with mojo

Yuca with mojo is the traditional cuban side dish to serve with Cuban roast pork. In fact, yuca is preferred over the usual fried plantains. As much as we love our fried maduros and tostones, yuca and roast pork are a Cuban power couple. And, of course, you have to make enough for yuca fries the next day! 

Caramel Flan Is The Best Cuban Dessert For Noche Buena

caramel

Caramel flan is, hands-down, the most popular Cuban dessert, and for a good reason. It’s a luscious, creamy, special-occasion-worthy dessert that is super easy to make. This is the dessert that’s on every Cuban table for Noche Buena

Noche Buena Menu

Other Traditional Cuban Dishes To Make For Christmas, Even Before Noche Buena

We also love to make goodies like Cuban shortbread, coconut balls, guava bars and Cuban eggnog with sweeteneded condensed milk and rum. I invite you to try some of these Cuban holiday favorites! But you don’t have to wait until Christmas Eve to enjoy these. Make them a few days early and start your Noche Buena festivities early🎄🎅

Torticas De Moron (Cuban Shortbread) Is Melt-In-Your-Mouth Delicious

torticas de moron

Torticas de Moron are a wonderful Cuban shortbread cookie that’s simple to make and so delicious! The shortening makes this cookie perfectly crumbly and once you bite into it just melts in your mouth. And it’s made even more irresistible with a dollop of guava paste! It’s a great addition to your Noche Buena menu, along with the Cuban flan, of course!

Coconut Balls Are Quick, Easy And So Adorable!

Coconut Balls

These coconut balls are such a Cuban treat. First of all, we LOVE coconut, so of course, we would make these. And if your an Almond Joy or Mounds fan, you’ll love these dipped in chocolate and topped with coconuts or almonds. They make great holiday gifts, too.

Boozy, Sweet Crema De Vie (Cuban Eggnog) Is So Good!

crema de vie

Cubans have their own version of eggnog known as crema de vie, and if you have a sweet tooth, you’ve got to try it! The Spanish translation for Crema de Vie is cream of life, and I can see why it’s called that. It tastes a lot like spiked flan because it has very similar ingredients. I like to have a little eggnog as I’m cooking up my Noche Buena feast, so I make this a few days early. You also need to let it sit for a day, so definitely make it early!

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas Eve celebration surrounding by family, friends and Christmas joy. ¡Feliz Navidad!

Noche Buena Menu
crema de vie

Boozy, Sweet Crema de Vie (Cuban Eggnog) Is So Good!

Cubans have their own version of eggnog known as crema de vie, and if you have a sweet tooth, you’ve got to try it! The Spanish translation for Crema de Vie is cream of life, and I can see why it’s called that. It tastes a lot like spiked flan because it has very similar ingredients.

I like to drink my crema de vie as I’m cooking. It makes it feel more like Christmas. Because when you live in Miami, you need a little help getting in the Christmas mood while it’s 80 degrees outside, so every little bit of Cuban eggnog helps!

crema de vie

Ingredients In My Delicious Crema De Vie

The reason I love this Cuban eggnog is that it tastes a lot like spiked flan. Like my caramel flan, crema de vie is made with eggs, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and vanilla. In fact, I always drink a bit of the flan when I make it because it tastes so good!

Crema de vie has two more ingredients not found in flan, though. Star anise syrup and rum are added to the mix. Not all recipes use star anise, some use cinnamon instead. But I love the flavor of the star anise in this Cuban eggnog recipe. And, I always sprinkle a little cinnamon on top, so you get all the Christmas flavors going on!

Now be warned, crema de vie is super sweet. I make mine with less sugar than most, but it’s still really sweet. The syrup contains one cup of sugar, and that’s in addition to a whole can of sweetened condensed milk. What can I say, Cubans are sweet ❤️

The rum helps cut down the level of sweetness, so it balances out the flavor. But eggnog is a sweet drink, whether you make the Cuban crema de vie or the traditional version. I use only half a cup of rum in the recipe, but you can add more if you like your eggnog very boozy. I stick to half a cup because that way, those who don’t like it super boozy can enjoy it, and the rest can add a little more.

Cuban eggnog

To Cook Or Not To Cook The Eggs

Crema de vie is made with raw eggs, six egg yolks to be precise. Cubans don’t cook their eggnog. My mom says Cubans have been drinking it this way forever, and no one ever gets sick… that’s Mami’s logic for you!

However, if you’re giving it as a gift or bringing it to a gathering, you may feel better cooking the eggs. So, this recipe has an optional cooking step. Cooking the yolks takes a little patience because you don’t want the eggs to cook too much or too fast, or you’ll end up with lumpy eggnog. Nobody wants that. So, it’s important to temper the eggs first (this means gradually introducing little amounts of warm milk to the yolks). You also need to cook at a low heat and stir constantly.

Give The Crema De Vie A Day To Settle

I gotta be honest, if you taste this Cuban eggnog right after it’s done, it’s not that great. The flavors need a little time to settle and get to know each other. So refrigerate the nog overnight before serving and always keep refrigerated.

Try some Cuban eggnog this Christmas, and let me know how you like it!

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cuban eggnog

Boozy, Sweet Crema de Vie (Cuban Eggnog) Is So Good!

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 11 1x
  • Category: drink
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: cuban

Description

Crema de vie (aka Cuban eggnog) is a traditional Cuban drink made with sweetened condensed milk, rum and star anise. So good!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
  • 1 can evaporated milk (12 ounces)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 star anise (2 full stars)
  • Cinnamon for garnish

Instructions

Make Simple Syrup

  • Mix 2 cups of water, 1 cup sugar and two star anise. Add to a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes or until it thickens slightly. Let cool.

Mix

  • Remove the star anise from the cooled syrup and add to a blender, along  with the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, rum, vanilla and pinch of salt. Blend on low for a few minutes.
  • Strain and pour into a bottle and refrigerate overnight. You need to give the flavors some time to mellow and get to know each other.

If you have an issue with using raw eggs, you can cook the eggs:

  • Heat the evaporated milk over medium heat until it’s warm, but not boiling. Should take about 8-10 minutes .
  • Beat the egg yolks in a bowl, then slowly add a few spoonfuls of the milk to the eggs to temper them. Continue to add the warm milk to the eggs a bit at a time. You don’t want the eggs to cook. Once you’ve added all the milk to the eggs, return to the pot and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly so the eggs don’t settle and cook at the bottom of the pan. Let it cool and strain before mixing with the other ingredients. Blend as indicated above.

Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Refrigerate overnight before using, it’s much better that way.


Keywords: crema de vie, crema de vie recipe, cuban crema de vie, crema de vie drink, cuban eggnog

https://beantrain.com/christmas-recipes/
garbanzo bean soup

Garbanzo Bean Soup Is Hearty Enough To Be A Meal

Now is the perfect weather to enjoy a nourishing bowl of garbanzo bean soup! But honestly, we make this Cuban garbanzo bean soup year-round… and I live in sunny Miami. This bean soup is very simple to make and tastes so, so good. So filled with meat and veggies, it’s hearty enough to be a meal. I like to have a nice big bowl with a bit of bread on the side. It’s comfort food at its best!

Bean soups are a big part of Cuban cooking, including black beans, red beans, white beans, garbanzo beans, you name it. This may seem surprising considering that Cuba is a tropical island. You’d think it would be too hot to have soups all the time, but it’s a perennial side dish in Cuban meals. In fact, if you go to a Cuban restaurant, you’ll find bean soups are on the menu as a side or as the soup of the day… always.

If you’re not familiar with garbanzo beans, they are chickpeas. There’s no difference between garbanzo beans and chickpeas.

garbanzo bean soup


What Goes Into This Garbanzo Bean Soup


This soup has a little bit of everything! It’s packed with ham and chorizo, potatoes, pumpkins, and cabbage. I like using ham hocks or smoked ham chops because the smoky flavor of the ham chops really adds a little kick to this soup.

Do you know what else adds a big flavor kick? The chorizo! You just need one link, but the spicy flavor of the chorizo is a big part of this soup. The chorizo in this soup is Spanish chorizo, not the Mexican version. Spanish chorizo is cooked and cured, and sold in small links. The flavor is similar to pepperoni, and you can usually find it in the same section in the grocery store.

This garbanzo bean soup also has pumpkin and potatoes. The sweetness of the pumpkin and the mild flavor of the potato complement the spicy chorizo perfectly. The pumpkin is softer than the potatoes and tends to dissolve into the soup, which is nice because it gives it a little extra body and creaminess. If you don’t want the pumpkin to dissolve, make sure to cut it into bigger chunks.

I love the cabbage in this soup, too! I use about a cup of cabbage cut into one-inch pieces. You can add more if you like it. Or, you can just add a small wedge, so it’s easier to remove it if not everybody likes it. My stepfather is not too fond of it, so my mom tends to leave it as a wedge. But when Mami and I made this soup for the blog, we cut up the cabbage, and he liked it just fine. So chop it! Veggies are good for you 💚

The spices in this garbanzo bean soup include paprika, thyme, cumin, oregano, bay leaves, culantro and aromatics such as onions, peppers, and garlic. It’s got all the goods, baby! If you’re not familiar with culantro, it’s a large leaf often used in Caribbean and Latin cooking. You should be able to find it where the fresh herbs are found. If not, you can omit it. 

garbanzo beans

How To Cook Garbanzo Beans


First of all, I always soak the beans for a few hours or overnight before cooking them. Then, you can cook them on the stovetop or use the Instant Pot or a pressure cooker. I made my soup in the Instant Pot.

Rinse the soaked beans and add to a pot with water. I use about eight cups of water for one fourteen-ounce package of garbanzo beans (or chickpeas, same thing). Add the ham, half an onion, 1/3 green pepper, three garlic cloves, and bay leaves to the water. Do not cut the onions, peppers, or garlic cloves. We’re going to remove them once the beans are cooked. Now, cook the beans until they’re softened. This should take about an hour on the stovetop and thirty-five minutes in the Instant Pot.

garbanzo bean soup


Once the beans are softened, remove the onions, peppers, garlic cloves, and bay leaves. Sauté chopped onion, crushed garlic cloves and green peppers with olive oil until translucent and soft. Then, add the spices (paprika, thyme, oregano, cumin and another bay leaf) and tomato sauce and cook for another minute or so. Add the sauteed mix to the beans and throw in the chopped cabbage, potatoes, pumpkin, and chorizo. Add salt and pepper to taste and cook for about thirty minutes more, and you’re done! If you’re using the Instant Pot, just set it on sauté.

Enjoy with some soft Cuban bread croutons and a drizzle of olive oil. Or add a few spoonfuls of white rice. Cubans love it that way too. ¡Buen provecho!

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chickpea soup

Garbanzo Bean Soup Is Hearty Enough To Be A Meal

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 1.5 hours
  • Total Time: 38 minute
  • Yield: 68 1x
  • Category: Soups
  • Method: Instant Pot or Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Cuban

Description

Hearty garbanzo bean soup (chickpea soup) is a very popular Cuban dish made with ham, chorizo, pumpkins and cabbage. Total comfort food!


Ingredients

Scale

14 ounces dry garbanzo beans or chickpeas

8 ounces smoked ham chops (you can use ham hocks too)

1 chorizo sausage link (about an ounce, give or take)

8 ounces red potatoes

8 ounces pumpkin

1 cup chopped green cabbage

1 medium yellow onion

2/3 green bell pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 bay leaves

2 culantro leaves

6 garlic cloves

½ cup tomato sauce

1 teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon oregano

¼ teaspoon thyme

1 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

¼ teaspoon black pepper or to taste

8 cups water


Instructions

Soak the garbanzo beans for four hours or overnight.

Rinse the beans and add them to the Instant Pot with 8 cups of water. Add half the onion, 1/3 green bell pepper, 3 garlic cloves, culantro leaves, bay leaves and ham. Do not cut the onion and leave the pepper in one large chunk and the garlic cloves whole. We are going to remove these things once the beans are softened.

Cook in the Instant Pot affiliate link for 35 minutes on high pressure. If you’re cooking on the stovetop, bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour or until the beans are softened.

While the soup cooks, prep the vegetables.

Chop the other half of the onion, crush the garlic. You can chop the bell pepper or leave it whole. I don’t like the pepper in my soup so I leave it whole so I can avoid it or remove it. Chop the cabbage into one-inch pieces and peel and cut the potatoes and pumpkin into small chunks (about 1 ½ inches pieces). Also, slice the chorizo into ¼ inch slices. Measure out the spices. 

Once the beans are softened, remove the onions, bell pepper, garlic cloves, and the culantro and bay leaves. If you want to, you can cut up the ham into bite-size pieces.

Add the olive oil to a sauté pan on medium heat. Once heated, sauté the onions, bell pepper and garlic and cook until softened. This should take about 4-5 minutes. Add the oregano, cumin, paprika and thyme and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomato sauce and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the mix to the beans, along with the chorizo, vegetables and another bay leaf. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 30 minutes or so, until the potatoes and pumpkin are cooked through. If you’re using an Instant Pot, saute for 25 minutes.

Serve with some soft croutons and a drizzle of olive oil. Or serve with a hearty slice of buttered bread. It’s comfort food!



Notes

Prep time does not include soaking the beans.

Keywords: Garbanzo bean soup, garbanzo beans, chickpeas, chickpea soup, instant pot garbanzo beans, cuban garbanzo bean soup, how to cook garbanzo beans

torticas de moron - cuban Christmas cookies

Torticas de Moron Are Melt In Your Mouth Delicious!

Torticas de Moron are a wonderful Cuban shortbread cookie that’s simple to make and so delicious! The shortening makes this cookie perfectly crumbly and once you bite into it just melts in your mouth. And it’s made even more irresistible with a dollop of guava paste!

For years I’d seen these cookies displayed at local Cuban bakeries, but I was never tempted to try them. They were usually huge and topped with sprinkles. It looked like a big old sugar cookie, and they just couldn’t compete with the pastelitos made with puff pastry and guava. But then a family friend made a batch, and I tasted a homemade version of these torticas de moron … wow, what a difference! 

torticas de moron

These Torticas de Moron Taste Like Old Cuba

These cookies are delicate and taste very old world… at least very Old Cuba! This is an old-time cookie named after the town of Moron, where it was first made. 

Torticas de moron have just a few ingredients: shortening, flour, sugar, and lemon rind. I like to add a little bit of butter to mine, but just a little. These Cuban cookies also have a little sprinkling of sugar crystals to give them a slight crunch and extra sweetness.

I’ve seen different versions of this cookie running around the internet (this cookie gets around!). Some recipes use all butter (no shortening), vanilla, eggs, and even baking powder, but the original recipe doesn’t have all of that. I taste-tested this recipe with my favorite Cuban folks and they said this recipe tasted like the torticas de moron they grew up eating.

torticas de moron

Look Ma! No Vanilla, Butter, Or Eggs!

What makes this cookie so crumbly and melt-in-your-mouth good is the shortening and the lack of moisture and leavening. Otherwise, it’s just a sugar cookie, not to say there’s anything wrong with that. I love those too! But torticas de moron are different. 

Instead of vanilla, this cookie has a bit of citrus for flavoring. The original recipe used lime rind, but I like it better with lemon rind. Cubans use lime for everything. Some folks make it without adding the citrus. My mom likes it better that way, but she was outvoted 😛

I already mentioned this Cuban cookie is crumbly, and this means that the dough is too. I beat the sugar, shortening, and butter together and then added the flour and the lemon rind. The dough looks very crumbly and needs a little bit of kneading to come together, and even then, it’s not very elastic. Just shape it with your hands into a rough rectangle and then roll until it’s a quarter-inch thick. You can cut with a biscuit cutter or with the glass. You’ll notice the photos show some with a fancy crinkle cut on the edge and some are plain, either way it’s pretty delicious!

Sprinkle a little sugar on these before baking. If it’s Christmas time, you can use colored sugar. But most times I just use white sugar crystals for a little sparkle and sweetness!

Although they may not look it, these cookies are delicate and should be cooled on the cookie sheet for a minute or two before moving them to a cooling rack. If you try to move them when they’re hot, they could break, and then you’ll have to eat the crumbs to hide the evidence. Not a bad problem to have… but they are so much prettier when you’re patient. 😇

torticas de moron

Kick It Up A Notch With Guava

These cookies are good on their own… but they are even better with guava. The sweetness of the guava and the slight tang of lemon go so well together! Just add a dollop of guava to the baked cookie after it’s cooled. I also sprinkle a little finishing salt because I like the salt and sweet together. If you don’t have finishing salt, you can use kosher salt.

You can buy a can of guava marmalade at the store, but I like to make my own. This way, the guava is a little thicker. But don’t stress it, the canned marmalade would be fine. You just have to store with a little more care so you don’t mess up the guava. Or, store without the guava and just add a dollop when you’re serving.

I also add a touch of orange liquor to the guava. Oh, it’s soooo good that way! I used Cointreau in mine, but Grand Marnier would also work. 

torticas de moron

Dress These Cuban Cookies For Christmas!

Make these torticas de moron for Christmas and add colored sugar crystals on top. You can also add a maraschino cherry to the center when you bake it. It’s very Christmas-y and makes great gifts for neighbors. 

Love guava? You’ve got to try my Cuban guava bars called masa real (royal dough), they are addicting!

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torticas de moron

Torticas de Moron Are Melt In Your Mouth Delicious!

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 28 cookies 1x
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Cuban

Description

Torticas de Moron are a  Cuban shortbread cookie that’s perfectly crumbly and just melts in your mouth. Try it with a dollop of guava paste!


Ingredients

Scale

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup vegetable shortening

¼ cup butter

1 teaspoon lemon rind

Optional Garnishes:

Sugar crystals or colored sugar.

7 ounces guava marmalade (you can buy it canned or make your own)

Finishing salt or kosher salt (to sprinkle on the dollop of guava paste)

Marachino cherries

Optional Guava Marmalade

7 ounces guava paste affiliate link

1 teaspoon Cointreau or other orange liqueur (add more if you prefer a more intense flavor)

5 tablespoons water


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Prep:

Grate 1 teaspoon of lemon rind.

Cream the sugar, shortening and butter until smooth. Add the lemon rind and beat for 30 more seconds.

Mix two cups of flour until combined, using a wooden spoon or spatula. Add the last cup of flour and mix until you have a crumbly mixture.

Dump the crumbly dough onto a floured surface.

Knead until the dough comes together. Divide the dough in half and shape each one into a flat disc.

Roll each disc until it’s 1/4 inch thick and cut with a biscuit cutter or a glass. Roll the leftover dough and repeat the process until you’ve used up all the dough. As you cut the cookies, place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Sprinkle the shaped cookies with sugar crystals.

Optional Topping: If you’re using the maraschino cherries, add half a cherry to each cookie. You can use both the sugar and the cherries to decorate.

Bake: Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden (mine took 18 minutes). Remove from oven.

Cool on baking sheet for about a minute. Then transfer them to a cooling rack. Be careful with these, because they can break easily. That’s why I don’t remove them from the baking sheet right away like I do with most cookies. 

Guava Paste:

Cube 7 ounces of guava paste affiliate link and add to a pan set on medium low heat. Add 5 tablespoons of water and a teaspoon of Cointreau. Cook until the guava is melted and spreadable. 

Guava Garnish:

Place a dollop of guava on each cooled cookie and sprinkle with finishing salt.


Keywords: Torticas de Moron, cuban cookies, guava cookies, cuban shortbread cookies, shortbread cookies, christmas cookies, cuban christmas cookies

Coconut Balls - Cuban Cookies - Coquito

Coconut Balls Are Quick, Easy and So Adorable!

These coconut cuties are such a Cuban treat. First of all, we LOVE coconut, so of course, we would make these. They are called coquito in Spanish (little coconut). Puerto Ricans also have a sweet treat called coquito, but in their case, it’s a holiday egg nog made with coconut milk… also great and worthy of its own post. But for today, let’s discuss these super quick and easy coconut balls. 

3-Ingredient Coconut Balls 

Don’t you just love when a cookie is so easy, carefree, and gorgeous? These coconut balls are just three ingredients: shredded coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla. And you don’t even need a mixer! Just mix the three ingredients with a spoon or hands (hands are the best kitchen tool ever!). Then roll into a ball and bake them for about 15 minutes or until golden… and you’re done. Let them cool before you handle, though. If you move them while they’re warm, they are likely to fall apart, and then you’ll have to eat the crumbs. Well, maybe move one or two! 😉

Let me just say a quick word about sweetened condensed milk here because it’s a staple in every Cuban kitchen. We use it in lots of Cuban desserts like caramel flan, drizzle it on churros or eat a spoonful to satisfy a sweet tooth. Don’t judge. 

Let’s Play Dress-Up With These Coconut Balls!

These coconut balls are good without any makeup. If you’re a coconut fan, you’ll love them just as they are. But if you’re a Mounds fan, you’ll love them dipped in chocolate with a little coconut sprinkle. Or, for the Almond Joy nuts out there, sprinkle some chopped almonds. Oh, yea! 

To make the chocolate easy to work with, I suggest you buy chocolate wafers that have already been tempered. I used Ghirardelli dark chocolate wafers, and it was easy to melt, hardened quickly, and looked glossy. 

These cookies make for a great holiday gift for teachers, co-workers, or neighbors. I like to make them for my hubby because he’s cuckoo for coconuts (ugh, that’s a seventies Cocoa Puffs commercial reference you probably won’t get!).

Anyways try these adorable little coconut balls and share your creations in the comments. I’d love to see how they turn out! 

https://beantrain.com/christmas-recipes/
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Chocolate Coconut Balls

Coconut Balls Are A Delicious Cuban Sweet Treat

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 17
  • Total Time: 32 minutes
  • Yield: 28 1x
  • Category: cookies
  • Method: baking
  • Cuisine: cuban

Description

I love how quick and easy these coconut balls are to make. You need just three ingredients: shredded coconut, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. And you don’t even need a mixer. Just mix the coconut, milk and vanilla and shape into balls.


Ingredients

Scale

14 ounces shredded unsweetened coconut (see note)

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Optional:

5 ounces dark chocolate melting wafers (I used Ghirardelli)

½ cup chopped, toasted almonds

½ cup shredded coconut


Instructions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

  • Add the finely shredded coconut, can of condensed milk and vanilla in a bowl and mix until well blended.
  • Take a heaping tablespoon (I used a 1 ½ tablespoon scoop) and shape into a ball. If your hands get sticky, just dip in a bowl of water, it makes the work less sticky.
  • Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until golden. (Time may vary based on your oven and the size of the coconut balls.)

Optional Decoration:

  • Melt 5 ounces of melting wafers in a small bowl. Place the almonds and/or the coconut flakes in separate bowls. Once the cookies have completely cooled, dip the top in chocolate and then dip in the coconut or chocolate. If you want to add just a little bit of the coconut or almonds, just sprinkle a few on top of the melted chocolate instead.
  • Place in the refrigerator until the chocolate is hardened.
  • These coconut balls are super easy to make! They take very little time and effort and are great for a holiday party table or holiday gifts.

Notes

Use a finely shredded unsweetened coconut. If you can’t find it, just pulse the coconut shreds in a food processor until it’s finely shredded.

Calories do not include the chocolate or the toppings.

Keywords: coconut balls, chocolate coconut balls, 3 ingredient coconut balls, Coconut balls condensed milk

fried rice balls with arroz con pollo

Fried Rice Balls Made With Cuban Arroz Con Pollo Is A Great Way To Use Leftovers

Fried rice balls are not usually a Cuban thing, but they are a delicious Cuban appetizer when you make them with arroz con pollo.  These are essentially arroz con pollo fritters, so it’s surprising that it’s not a Cuban thing because we make fritters from just about anything, and we have so many rice dishes. 

I first got the idea to make these from Finka Table and Tap, a local restaurant serving Latin fusion food in Miami. They have these on their menu and I just loved them so much I couldn’t wait to try them at home. My mom tried these and loved them too, so they have the Cuban seal of approval.

These rice balls are a perfect way to turn leftover Cuban chicken and rice into great tapas. And I gotta say I so love a tapas party made with leftovers… like picadillo empanadas or ropa vieja sandwich and now these arroz con pollo fritters. 

fried rice balls with arroz con pollo

How To Make Rice Balls

My son tells me that these fried rice balls are an Italian appetizer known as arancini, made with leftover risotto. My Cuban arroz con pollo a la chorrera that I made a few days ago uses a short grain rice very similar to risotto. So I can use my arroz con pollo to make a similar rice ball. The sticky rice keeps its shape nicely. But the recipe won’t work as well with long grain rice. 

Ingredients for the fried rice balls:

  • 2 cups leftover Cuban arroz con pollo a la chorrera
  • ¾ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup panko break crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • Vegetable oil for frying

I took a ¼ cup of rice and shaped into a patty, added about a tablespoon of shredded cheese to the center and shaped into a tight ball. I tried making these with cubes of mozzarella, but the cheese didn’t melt enough when you cooked it. So, I used the shredded cheese. It can get a bit messy stuffing the balls with the shredded cheese, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just make a nice, tight rice ball and then freeze for about ten minutes so they’ll hold their shape while you’re frying. 

Then take them out of the freezer, dredge them through flour, dip them in beaten eggs and coat with panko breadcrumbs. You can stick them in the freezer while you heat up the vegetable. Also, fry these on high heat, since they don’t need to be cooked through. This way, the rice balls don’t fall apart. I fried them for about two minutes per side on medium-high heat. 

Rice Balls Recipe

It’s that easy! I like to serve mine with a little siracha mayo. You can buy this ready-made or easily make your own with about a third-cup of mayo and a teaspoon of sriracha sauce. It’s a perfect sauce for these fried rice balls!

You can also make these fried rice balls with leftover paella rice or risotto. And you can stuff them with other types of cheese. Experiment with whatever you have on hand. Add a little wine and you’ve got a tapas night!

Try making my Cuban arroz con pollo or paella mixta first and then make the rice balls with the leftovers. Tell me how you like them!

bean train food for thought

I love cooking with leftovers because it can be fun finding creative ways to turn the week’s leftovers into party food. It’s like recycling… it’s good for us and good for the environment. 

But I almost threw this rice away and missed my chance to make the fried rice balls. I had made a delicious arroz con pollo a few nights ago and had just a bit left, not enough for another night. So it was off to the trash. But then I remembered the arroz con pollo fritters I had at Finka Table & Tap and my leftover rice became this amazing appetizer. 

The reason I share this story is because we tend to throw away things that can have a second life, and I’m not just talking about food. Sometimes it’s a part of ourselves or our past. But our past can be recycled. Even our pain can be put to good use in helping someone else. God has taught me that in His economy, nothing is wasted. So I’m always looking for ways to turn ashes into beauty… and leftovers into Cuban appetizers. 

I encourage you to find ways to recycle and find the beauty even in used things. 

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Rice Balls Recipe

Fried Rice Balls Made With Cuban Arroz Con Pollo Is A Great Way To Use Leftovers

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 17 minutes
  • Yield: 9 balls 1x
  • Category: appetizers
  • Method: frying
  • Cuisine: Cuban

Description

Fried rice balls made with Cuban arroz con pollo are a fun way to turn leftover rice into a Cuban tapas party!


Ingredients

Scale

2 cups arroz con pollo a la chorrera

3/4 cups shredded mozzarella

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups vegetable oil for frying

Optional:

Sriracha mayo (1/3 cup mayo with 1 teaspoon sriracha)


Instructions

Prep:

  • Pulse the panko breadcrumbs to make the crumbs just a bit smaller (or stick in a ziplock bag and crush for a bit)
  • Take 1/4 cup of rice and shape into a patty. Add 1 tablespoon shredded mozzarella to the center and shape into a tight ball. 
  • Place rice balls in the freezer for ten minutes
  • Dredge the rice balls through flour, dip in beaten egg and coat in panko bread crumbs. 
  • Stick the rice balls in the freezer while you heat the oil for frying

Cook:

  • Heat two cups vegetable oil for frying over medium heat
  • Test the oil by throwing in a bit of panko to see if it’s sizzling  hot
  • Once it’s sizzling, add the rice balls a few at time so you don’t crowd them
  • Fry the rice balls for two minutes on each side
  • Drain on paper towels

Serve with sriracha mayo.



Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 ball

Keywords: Rice Balls Recipe, How to make rice balls, fried rice balls, cuban chicken and rice, arroz con pollo, cuban arroz con pollo, stuffed rice balls, arancini rice balls

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