When I fly to Miami, my Cuban genes start percolating the minute the plane touches down at the airport. I make a mental list of all the things that I want to eat or buy when we take off so that I can hit the city running. First thing is a good cup of Cuban coffee at the airport that will keep me flying high at least for the next 24 hours. Next comes all the things I haven't been able to find in the markets where I live although that is getting easier all the time. Even though I can make a lot of this stuff at home, they are really best when enjoyed in situ. I remember once smuggling fruit from Brazil through US customs in New York, no less, only to find that it didn't taste as good in the middle of winter in Connecticut as it did on Ipanema Beach. That could have been an expensive lesson!
Most of this trip, unfortunately, was spent eating at the hospital cafeteria but I did manage to have some boliche, or carne asada, on the last night of my trip. Made by me, but directed by my mother (from her bed!). Boliche, or carne asada, is essentially a Cuban pot roast very similar to the one we have here in the States except with a very traditional cuban marinade of onions, garlic, and naranja agria (bitter orange). You will not find the latter in your neck of the woods, so just add a small amount of lime or lemon juice to the orange juice to make it bitter.
The recipe below is essentially the same one published by the Cuban Betty Crocker of the 40's and 50's, a lady by the name of Nitza Villapol. It is as traditional and authentic as you can get. I usually stuff it with prunes as the recipe says, but it can also be stuffed with ham or chorizo as the photo above. Either way, it's divine. Serve with white rice, black beans, and fried bananas (tostones or maduros) Will you believe that the whole reason for making this dish was to have it with black beans and I forgot all about them until I started typing this post?
1 boliche (about 3 pounds) or eye round roast
1 large onion
1 green pepper
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 sour orange (or juice of three or four limes)
6 prunes, no seeds
1/4 pound sweet ham, sliced
2 slices of bacon
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup dry white wine (preferably Spanish) or dry sherry*
3 or 4 oranges (sweet, not sour)
Clean the boliche, prick with a fork.
Perforate the meat with a sharp knife, making six holes. Place the prunes wrapped in the ham slices.
Prepare a marinade with the mashed garlic, black pepper, sour orange juice.
Pour over the meat adding the sliced onion and sliced green pepper.
Heat a pot and fry the bacon slices until the fat is rendered. Drain the boliche and brown in the fat until it is browned. Add the wine, the juice of two oranges, salt and pepper and a few drops of Worcestershire Sauce. Cook well, covered, at a low heat until it is tender.This will take about 2 1/2 to 3 hrs. depending on the meat. Make sure a large fork goes all the way through when pierced and the meat is very tender. It will be very similar to pot roast. While cooking, add orange juice as needed to make sure it does not scorch. If you do not have enough sauce, add more wine and another cup of water about 1/2 hour before it is done.
Slice across, half to three quarter inches thick slices. Pour the gravy on top before serving
* If you go to the Spanish section of most supermarkets, you will find a very inexpensive vino seco that you should use in this recipe
(I didn't bring a camera along but I will post my photo when I next make it)