Our recipe today takes us to Cuba. Known all over the world for its beautiful beaches, its colorful capital, its cultural richness and its cigars, this northern Caribbean island also has a culinary heritage of the most varied and interesting.
Influenced by both Creole and Spanish cuisines, Cuban cuisine has several characteristics of its own too. Starting with the ingredients. Whether it is rice, black beans, plantain, beef or pork, they all come from local farming, and they are found in several specialties in various forms. Then, the cooking method, with a predominance of stews simmered slowly on the fire and dishes in sauce. The meal itself, finally, with this peculiarity for Cubans to bring all the dishes at the table at the same time instead of following the appetizer with the main course.
The dish that I chose to prepare today, carne con papas, perfectly represents the specificities of Cuban cuisine.
Directly inspired by Spanish picadillo, this delicious beef stew with potatoes is the Cuban version. While the original picadillo uses ground meat, carne con papas contains chunks of beef. The sauce of carne con papas is also different from that of picadillo because it incorporates ingredients such as raisins, olives, peppers and even capers, in addition to the traditional base called sofrito.
Sofrito, also called refogado or estrugido in Spain is a preparation made with garlic, tomatoes, onions, peppers and olive oil, which serves as the basis for many stews originally from Spain, Portugal and Latin America. We have already cooked sofrito here on 196 flavors, whether in arroz con bacalao, when we traveled to Panama, or in my locrio de pica pica from the Dominican Republic.
There are a multitude of versions of the picadillo in Latin America. In Mexico, for example, the sauce often contains lime as well as honey, and fish sometimes replaces beef in some regions. In the Dominican Republic, the recipe looks very similar to the Cuban recipe, but also includes hard-boiled eggs.
When I tasted my carne con papas for the first time, I could not help but think of a traditional Tunisian recipe from my childhood, batata bel camoun, whose ingredients and cooking methods are almost identical.
Enjoy your meal!
- 2 lb beef stew , cubed
- 4 tablespoons oil
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 onion , diced
- 3 cloves garlic , crushed
- 1 green bell pepper , diced
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 cup beef stock (or water)
- 2 lb potatoes , peeled and cut into large chunks
- 5 tablespoons capers
In a large hot skillet with oil, add pepper and onion. Sauté for 5 minutes, then add the garlic, paprika, cumin and salt. Cook for another 3 minutes.
Add meat and brown on all sides for 5 minutes.
Pour the tomato sauce and stir. Add the wine, water (or beef broth) and simmer, covered for at least 90 minutes, or until meat is tender.
Add the potatoes, and capers. Cook for another 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Serve by itself or with white rice.