Tablet Life & Arts

Everyday Food: An easy Cuban feast

This is comfort food, tropical style. The easy dishes include juicy roast pork, along with red beans and rice, salsa and a classic cocktail.

Cuba libre

Serves 4

Fill four glasses with ice. Divide 1 cup white or gold rum and 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 limes) among glasses. Divide 2 cups cola among glasses, stir and serve with lime wedges.

Pico de gallo

Serves 4

In a medium bowl, combine 3 medium tomatoes, diced medium (2 cups), 2/3 cup finely chopped red onion (from 1 small), 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, and 1 jalapeño (optional), seeded and finely chopped. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper and serve with baked plantain chips (recipe follows).

Baked plantain chips

Serves 4

Preheat oven to 350 dgrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Divide 2 pounds green plantains or green bananas, scored, peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal, between two rimmed baking sheets. Toss with 1/4 cup vegetable oil, then arrange plantains in a single layer on sheets. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Bake until golden and crisp, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating sheets and flipping plantains halfway through. Drain plantains on paper towels. (To store, place cooled chips in an airtight container, up to 2 days.)

Roasted pork with onions and citrus

Serves 4 to 6

• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 large white onion, diced medium (2 1/2 cups)

• 1 head garlic, cloves peeled and roughly chopped (1/2 cup)

• 1 1/4 cups strained fresh orange juice (from 4 juice oranges)

• 1/3 cup fresh lime juice (from 6 limes)

• Coarse salt and ground pepper

• 1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves, roughly chopped

• 1 boneless pork shoulder roast (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), fat trimmed

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with rack in lower third. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften, 4 minutes. Add orange and lime juices and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper, stir in oregano, and remove from heat.

2. Pat pork dry with paper towels. Season generously with salt and pepper and place in a heavy-bottomed ovenproof pot (pork should fit snugly). Pour onion mixture on and around pork, leaving some on top. Roast, uncovered, 30 minutes. Remove pot from oven and reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Ladle onion and cooking juices over pork. Cook, uncovered, until cooked through (an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of pork should read 155 degrees), 1 1/2 hours, basting pork with onion and juices every 30 minutes. Let rest 15 minutes before slicing. To serve, skim fat from cooking juices and spoon sauce over sliced pork.

Cuban red beans and rice

Serves 4

• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

• 1/4 white onion, diced small (1/2 cup)

• 1/4 green bell pepper, diced small (1/2 cup)

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• Coarse salt and ground pepper

• 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves

• 1 cup long-grain white rice

• 1 can (15.5 ounces) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

• 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic, and cook until onion is soft, 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add cumin, oregano and rice, stir, and cook 1 minute. Add beans and broth, stir, then season with salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, then cover. Reduce to a medium simmer and cook until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

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