Recipe #53: Bistec Asado en Cazuela
Bistec en cazuela is not one of those recipes that my family would make often. I know it’s one that many of you grew up on, but not in my house. And so, as with many of these recipes, I have no idea going into this, how it’s supposed to look. At least with stuff like tamales and arroz con pollo, you know exactly what the final product is, but with this? No clue.
It’s real easy, and extremely Cuban-tasting. Probably why it’s such a staple in so many household kitchens. It gives you instant Cuban house smell, straight from the moment the steaks hit the heat.
My favorite part of the recipe? Making little squares as I tenderize the meat with a mallet. Little squares make me happy. Very therapeutic. I know, I’ve got issues.
Once you’ve thinned out the palomilla steaks by taking your daily stress out on them, you rub them with minced garlic and the juice of a naranja agria (sour orange). You cover them with green pepper and onions slices and then you let them sit in the fridge for at least half an hour.
[Here’s where I stopped to make my cream of carrot soup, but I’ll jump to that recipe afterwards.]
Once you’re ready to cook the steaks, you heat up vegetable oil and cook the steaks (only the steaks) until golden. You’ve got to fry them up really well and if your cazuela starts to get brown and you think you’re burning your steaks, you’re on the right track. That burning on the cazuela gives your steaks a really nice golden color and is crucial to what comes next.
The frying of the onions and the peppers.
The brown bits start to release themselves from the cazuela and they stick to the onions and the peppers like flavor boosters. Once the onions and peppers are soft enough, add the liquid and garlic from the marinade to get everyone really swimming in flavor. You also add salt, pepper, a bay leaf, some tomato sauce and some vino seco.
Add the steaks back in once this juice pool starts to bubble and cover your cazuela. Cook on low heat for thirty minutes. Serve with killer rice.
Recipe #10: Sopa de Zanahorias a la Crema
This now makes the fourth of nine cream of vegetable soups. Never ending.
I cut up whole carrots and set them to boil. While they cooked, I osterized flour, milk and salt and then added melted butter to the mix. I osterized some more until well mixed. I put the cream base in a pot on low to medium heat until it thickened and then whisked in a cup of the carrots. mashed. Viola, a vegetable. Yes, coated in cream, but a vegetable nonetheless.
I found the carrot soup to be one of my favorites thus far. I’ve got spinach, tomato, asparagus, remolacha (is that beet?) and mixed vegetables to go.
After this dinner, my whole family smelled like they had walked straight out of a Cuban house, and I loved it. Even the next morning, I woke up to the smell of lingering peppers and onions. Strange to appreciate it, but it really is something special. Maybe this is why we learn, right from the start, that the smell of our food is what draws us in.