I recently decided to cook a Grand Cuban Feast. The centerpiece was going to be a roast pork shoulder and I spent a quite a bit of time researching recipes on the Internet. Those I found shared a lot of similarities, and I thought I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do. I’ve had really good roast pork at a couple of Cuban restaurants and was envisioning something flavorful and moist and fabulous. As is sometimes the case, reality didn’t quite match up. My roast wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t fabulous either. It wasn’t as moist as I wanted, and despite marinating overnight it was kind of bland. I was pretty disappointed, but I think I’ll give it another try sometime soon.
On the bright side, the black beans, fried plantains and tres leches cake were all great. I’ve included the recipes for the beans and cake below. I’m waiting to post the roast pork recipe until I work out the kinks. For the plantains I just sliced very ripe (i.e. black) plantains on a bias, fried them in vegetable oil until caramelized, and then sprinkled them with coarse salt and lime juice.
Cuban-Style Black Beans
Adapted from Saveur magazine
The original recipe called for one-and-a-half pounds of black beans, but that’s way too much food for two people and beans are usually sold in one-pound packages, so that’s what I used. I kept the amounts of the other ingredients about the same though. These turned out soupier than I like, so I drained off some of the liquid before I added the sautéed onions and peppers.
- 1 lb dried black beans
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig fresh oregano
- 4 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. ground cumin
- 12 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 small green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Sort through beans, discarding any small stones, then rinse under cold running water. Put beans, bay leaf, oregano, and 1 tbsp. of the oil into a large pot, then cover with cold water by 3″. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, adding more water as needed to keep beans covered, until beans are tender, about 2 hours.
2. Heat remaining 3 tbsp. of the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add cumin, scallions, garlic, and green peppers, and sauté, stirring often, until peppers are soft and scallions are golden, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add to beans. Continue cooking beans, stirring occasionally, for 10–15 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Remove bay leaf before serving.
Tres Leches Cake
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. For the milk mixture: Pour condensed milk into large microwave-safe bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave on low power, stirring and replacing plastic every 3 to 5 minutes, until slightly darkened and thickened, 9 to 15 minutes. Remove from microwave and slowly whisk in evaporated milk, cream, and vanilla. Let cool to room temperature.
2. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in bowl. Heat butter and milk in small saucepan over low heat until butter is melted; set aside off heat.
3. With electric mixer on medium speed, beat eggs in large bowl for about 30 seconds, then slowly add sugar until incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until egg mixture is very thick and glossy, 5 to 7 minutes. Reduce speed to low and slowly mix in melted butter mixture and vanilla. Add flour mixture in three additions, scraping down bowl as necessary, then mix on medium speed until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Using rubber spatula, scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer cake to wire rack and let cool 10 minutes.
4. Using skewer, poke holes at 1/2-inch intervals in top of cake. Slowly pour milk mixture over cake until completely absorbed. Let sit at room temperature 15 minutes, then refrigerate uncovered 3 hours or up to 24 hours.
5. For the frosting: Remove cake from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. With electric mixer on medium speed, beat heavy cream, corn syrup, and vanilla to soft peaks, 1 to 2 minutes. Frost cake and slice into 3-inch squares. Serve. (The assembled cake can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)