If you know me at all you know I am white…in fact I am about as white as they come. Despite the unfortunate lack of ethnic diversity in my heritage, I am OBSESSED with all things ethnic when it comes to food. One cuisine in particular strikes a chord in my heart, bringing back memories of adolescence spent in South Florida. That cuisine is Cuban! I am in love with cuban food, and I am convinced I could eat it every day for the rest of my life and never get tired of it. My mother (who is also VERY white…) is an excellent Cuban Chef. She grew up in Ft Lauderdale (which is just north of Miami for you non floridians) where she learned to love cuban food, and then she learned the cuisine while living in miami (also known as N. Cuba for you non floridians) with my dad. For as long as I can remember we have had Cuban meals cooked by my mom or dad at least a few times a month. Cuban products are very common in the local grocery stores of South and Central Florida, Mojo Creojo (marinating sauce) can be found just about anywhere as well as, fresh plantains, and guava paste. So I just naturally assumed I would find in any grocery store anywhere in the country. When I moved to California, I quickly discovered I was wrong :(. When I asked a Safeway clerk one day if they had any Mojo Creojo he looked at me like I was from mars…and promptly mispronounced it as he questioned me. Well no, Safeway does not carry Mojo, neither does Sprouts, Trader Joes, Savemart, or Grocery Outlet. So I decided I would just have to make my own…One of the key ingredients to this sauce however is Sour Orange Juice, also a product not found in Northern California. So long story short This is my adaptation based on the ingredients available to me here in California. So without Further ado…Heres the recipe
Pollo Mojo and Sides
Alright so first things first you need to get the marinade started for the chicken heres what you will need
1/2 Onion Sliced thin
4 Cloves of garlic Smashed (I just beat them with the side of the knife a few times…but be sure to remove the skins)
1 handful of cilantro
1/3 cup Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Alright so get the onions and garlic in a bowl or ziplock, juice the limes and then throw the pieces of juiced lime in there too.
Chop the cilantro and it to your marinade, which should be smelling AWESOME by now.
Add your chicken and then pour in your olive oil, and give everything a good mix. Make sure if your using a bowl or pan, that the chicken ends up at the bottom, resting in the juice mixture, and with the onion and garlic on top.
Now cover that and whack it in the fridge.
Next you wanna get your rice and beans going, I’m not going to go into great depths with this one because really its not possible. Just toss a can of black beans into a pot with 2 bay leaves (if your beans are slightly dry and sticky add about 1/2 – 1 cup of water to allow time for the bay leaves to flavor the sauce.) allow to just barely simmer until your ready to serve (if they get to dry at any point, just add more water. You want them to have a nice smooth syrup but not be soup.) Start your rice
Next Prep the Salsa
2 roma tomatoes Diced Small (I like roma tomatoes because to me, they taste the most like tomatoes should)
1/4 Onion diced very Small
1 handful Cilantro Minced
1/2 Lime juiced
Salt (and pepper if you like)
Mix those all up and whack it in the fridge.
On to the Tostones: Brief explanation of what those beautiful golden discs are. Tostones are a product of the Plantain in green form, they are starchy and delicious and very much like a sticky potato unless fried. When fried they become like a cross between a french fry and a corn chip. Delicious. Green Plantains can be fried in a variety of ways, thin sliced and fried to golden brown, cubed and fried like hash browns or my personal favorite (the tostones way) fried once in a very thick disk flattened and fried again to brown and crispy. Mmmmm….
and cut the ends off, then Score the skin down 3 to 4 sides (I should have taken a picture to show you but I forgot…sorry) then peel the skin off working your fingers between the skin and the flesh down your cut marks and it should pop off.
Once you get the skin off cut them into about 1/2 inch thick pieces. Like this…
Using a Medium NON STICK Saute pan put enough oil (I use half olive oil and half vegetable oil) to cover about 1/4 of the plantains. Turn it onto High Heat. When the oil is hot enough put a tester in, the oil should bubble considerably around the sides of the plantain. Put the plantains in flat side down. Flip them after about a minute, and let them cook another minute. Then remove them from the pan. Lay them on the cutting board and allow them to cool for about 1 minute.
Using a small heavy saute pan or flat bottomed object, take 1 plantain disk and smoosh the heck out of it…ok ok not really just apply a light amount of pressure until you feel it flatten (don’t go crazy you still want them to be about 1/8th of an inch thick)
After you have them ALL smooshed! Set them aside and cover with plastic or aluminum foil to keep them slightly warm.
Last but DEFINITELY not least. Take your chicken out of the fridge!
Fire up that grill and cook em!
I used high heat to start and got some nice caramelization on the chicken then cooked them through on medium flipping about once every 2 -3 minutes (I don’t like charred chicken)
After your chicken is done fry up those tostones real quick using the same method you did for the first fry just try to get them golden brown.
Then EAT! I’m pretty sure the traditional cuban style is to just mix the beans and the rice together, but I usually mix everything together then put it on top of the tostones and eat them like little nachos…how very un-cuban of me lol.
So thats pretty much it, I know this one was a little more complicated than my previous recipes but don’t let that stop you! I promise its worth the extra trouble! and be sure to let me know if you try it! Oh and check back with me tomorrow for my menu update and budget friendly tips!