Mostly Meatless Monday, Caribbean Edition

Last Meatless Monday, in which I made a Kamala Harris-inspired dish, I said I was going to look into some more Caribbean cooking. So this week follows up on that post.

I decided I would make a famous Cuban dish called Moros y Cristianos (basically, black beans and rice). However, I have to admit upfront that this Monday’s dinner was not entirely meatless. I eliminated the onions and garlic and peppers in cooking the beans, and used ham hocks to flavor the dish. I also added the meat from the ham hocks to the dish, mostly not to waste them. The meat was a small percentage of the dish, but it makes it definitely NOT Meatless. However, I think this is the direction in which nutritionists who aren’t totally opposed to meat go, which is just using meat for flavoring or accents or toppings, etc., rather than the main part of the dish, which is true of so many US dishes. Still, I’m acknowledging upfront that my meal was not meatless, although the same dish could be made without meat.

Beans and rice are not something new to me. However, I did add a revolutionary (for me) Caribbean element. I made roasted YUCA! I’ve loved yuca when I’ve had it in restaurants, but have never tried making it myself before. However, in GO-FOR-IT 2021, I…went for it.

Yuca is a tuber/root, as shown in the picture above. It is pretty similar to potato, except with more protein, a MUCH lower glycemic index, and more vitamins and micronutrients. However, as you might guess looking at it, it is harder to deal with, which is probably why it is not on the menu at most mainstream American chains or fast foods.

Apparently yuca (not to be confused with yucca, which is an ornament plant without any savory roots) has cyanide in it and so needs to be cooked in order to be eaten safely. It also has a thick bark-like outside, attached to a thin inner layer, that needs to be removed. It is possible to peal the both the both of them by hand once the root has been cut, although the ones I tried had parts that needed to be removed either by knife or vegetable peeler.

Once chopped and peeled and cut into “steak fries” pieces, I boiled the yuca until soft, then roasted it in the oven. All of that took at least an hour, or probably an hour and a half. But, still, it was GREAT! Especially when dipped in a green chile-based sauce from Peru….

This plate shows the yuca at top, black beans with brown rice beneath, squash next to that, Peruvian aji pepper sauce, and on top, the yuca. Which I know I already said. But the yuca and the pepper sauce are so good that they bear mentioning twice.

My family loved the meal, so I recommend it, even if you leave out the ham hocks….

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