Cuban Sandwiches with Tomato Jam
Sandwiches are a classic choice for a tailgate, but Ken Oringer likes to go beyond plain ham-and-cheese. For these cubanos he roasts and shreds pork butt, then he layers the succulent meat on rolls along with homemade tomato jam, grilled onions, pickles and Gruyère. He cooks the sandwiches on a portable grill until they are crispy and warm.
Sherried Black Bean Soup with Shrimp
Chef Michelle Bernstein makes a silky version of black bean soup by adding cream to the beans, then blending them until frothy.
Vaca Frita: Crispy Beef
This recipe for vaca frita ("fried cow") is a close cousin of Cuba’s famous ropa vieja, stewed shredded beef in tomato sauce. The beef for vaca frita, however, is marinated in lime, garlic and salt, then seared until crispy. The key to achieving the perfect texture is to cook the beef in small batches, so it sautés rather than steams.
Tostones: Savory Plantains
Soak the plantains in salty water for one minute; they'll emerge perfectly seasoned.
Since people in Cuba don't usually have ready access to salad greens, Lourdes Castro says, many will start a meal with this simple avocado salad instead. Cubans tend to use Florida avocados, which are widely available in the Caribbean; they're larger and smoother than Hass avocados, stay bright green when ripe and have a mild, slightly sweet flavor.
Roasted Pork with Sticky Mango Glaze
Mangoes, ubiquitous in the Caribbean, flavor this sticky, slightly spicy glaze for roasted pork. Carolina Buia also uses sweet-and-sour tamarind paste in the glaze to add tartness.
The mojito may be Cuba's national cocktail. The drink gets its name from the African word mojo, which means "to cast a spell." Making mojitos in a pitcher doesn't work—it's impossible to distribute the lime and mint evenly, plus the club soda tends to turn flat. Instead, muddle a large batch of mint, limes and sugar, then pour the mixture into glasses and top with ice, rum and club soda.
Fried Sweet Plantains
Plantains are abundant all over the Caribbean, and one popular way to eat them is to pan-fry the sweet banana-like slices until they're warm and tender.
Natilla: Creamy Custard
A direct descendant of the Spanish Crema Catalana, natilla is a rich, creamy egg custard made without the crispy sugar topping. Adding eggs to the warm milk mixture can scramble them; to prevent that, add the milk mixture to the eggs very slowly in order to increase their temperature gradually.
No Cuban meal is complete without a café cubano (Cuban coffee). A well-made café cubano has a thick layer of sweet crema (cream) floating over strong espresso. To get the crema right, whisk about 1 tablespoon of the espresso with sugar until it turns foamy, then pour the pot of espresso over it. You can't overbeat a crema, so stir it energetically.
Boiled Yuca with Garlicky Onions
Yuca, or cassava, is a starchy tuber that can be boiled, fried, or baked like a potato. For this Cuban side dish, photographer Romulo Yanes likes to simmer the root until tender and flaky then dress it in a hot onion- and garlic-infused oil.
Cuban-Style Black Beans
Dried black beans become creamy and tender in just minutes with the pressure cooker. Photographer Romulo Yanes stirs in a sofrito of garlic, red bell pepper, and onion (the Cuban cook’s holy trinity), to make his savory Cuban-Style Black Beans.
Cuban-born photographer Romulo Yanes shares a recipe for classic Cuban Ropa Vieja, which literally translates as “old clothes.” Skirt steak braises until tender in the pressure cooker before being shredded and stewed in a rich tomato sauce.