Dominican Flavor

Pastelon

When I asked a friend to teach me how to make empanadas, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Four hours in, I had done so much eating, dancing, and laughing that my sides ached the next day, but we hadn’t even started the empanadas.

The real star was the pastelón de yuca, Liyibel’s favorite dish, beloved enough to have it served it at her wedding this past winter.

I think of pastelón as Dominican shepherd’s pie: a hearty comfort food made of layers of meat and a mashed starch, in this case yuca (cassava). Topped with melty cheese, it’ll give you the energy to dance Bachata all night!

Dominican-Reb

Yuca

Pastelon-c.gif

 

Pastelón de Yuca y Pollo

Yuca Puree:

morir

Morir Soñando

  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 cups evaporated milk
  • 2½ cups ice

Refrigerate the orange juice and milk until very cold. Add the ice to the milk and stir. Add sugar to taste. Slowly pour the orange juice in the milk, stirring constantly. Serve immediately.

Gracias

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The Spatchcock

Spatchcocked Turkey
Spatchcocked Turkey

First spatchcocked.

Now on exhibit, bare-skinned and splayed. Disgraceful.

Spatchcock in Process
Spatchcock in process: removing the backbone

To spatchcock, the spine is completely removed from a bird so that the butterflied body can be flattened for cooking, usually on a grill.

My favorite explanation for the odd-sounding term is the theory that it is a combo of the words “dispatch” and “cock.” Fitting, since this is undeniably the quickest way to get the job done, with golden crisp skin and absolutely no dry meat, and the biggest miracle of it all…

A perfect bird in 80 minutes.

My single complaint about this experience is that manhandling bird carcasses pushed the limits of my work space. By NYC standards, my kitchen is plenty large, but flattening out a turkey calls for some serious real estate.

Supplies

Actual, real-thing poultry scissors – even kitchen shears probably won’t get it done
Step stool – to get the leverage needed to break the breastbone
Strong stomach – this is no job for the squeamish

Pumpernickel Bacon Stuffing
Pumpernickel Bacon Stuffing

I love Serious Eats’ nuts+bolts explanation and recipe on this technique, which I used as the foundation of my own spatchcocking experiment. Their gravy recipe is no less impressive; it is certainly the best gravy I’ve ever made.

Anticipating Thanksgiving

It’s a remarkable thing to cook an animal the size of a housepet in it’s entirety. But man, talk about a commitment. Limited to a mere once a year investment, my satisfaction and patience are seriously tested by this situation.

Behold, a solution for those with a level of patience comparable to mine:

A bacon-wrapped, intensely flavorful mini-Thanksgiving feast

Bacon Wrapped Roasted Turkey Breast with Veggies
  • turkey breast, approx. 2-1/2 lbs.
  • 1 package bacon
  • 4 to 6 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • Cheese cloth and butchers twine
  • Assortment of root vegetables (I used small yukon gold potatoes, purple onion, and carrots- enough to lay in a single layer around the meat in the pan)
  • Olive oil

Butterfly turkey breast. Combine sage, thyme, garlic, shallots, red pepper, salt, and pepper in small bowl. Rub mixture evenly over turkey breasts. Lay out cheese cloth, a bit larger than the size of the breast, and place bacon, slightly overlapping edges, in a column down the center of the  cloth. Roll turkey breast into a tight roll and place in the center of the bacon. Braid bacon back and forth over the top of rolled turkey breast. Wrap turkey breast with cheese cloth and tie with  twine at ends and in middle. Toss veggies, chopped where appropriate, in olive oil, salt and pepper, and put in the pan. Roast at 375 degrees till the meat is cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees (approx. 90 min). Remove from oven and let rest for 15 min. Unwrap and slice to serve.