Good Tidings

The flavors of Latin America inspire casual entertaining, with dishes that invite guests to linger in the last fire-tinged rays of early summer’s setting sun.

Photos by Mark Edward Atkinson

Paella Cubano

8 small chicken thighs, skin on

½ cup cooked chorizo, sliced into ¼-inch pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 garlic cloves, minced

1 large onion, chopped

1 each red bell pepper and green bell pepper, diced

3 cups Valencia rice (parboiled)

¼ cup red wine

½ cup water

4½ cups chicken stock

2 teaspoons salt

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon annatto seeds

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

pinch of saffron

pinch of turmeric

½ cup green peas

1 dozen mussels

1 dozen clams

1 pound shrimp

1 dozen scallops

salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat in a large paella-style pan. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown on both sides. Add the chorizo to the pan while chicken is browning. Remove chicken and chorizo from pan and set aside. Add garlic, onions and peppers to pan and sauté until soft. Add rice, wine, water, stock, salt, bay leaves and the remaining spices (a packet of seasoning like Goya Sazon Con Azafran, available at most Latin markets, may be substituted if necessary) and peas while stirring well. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 30 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, prepare seafood. Place mussels and clams in a saucepan with water, cover and set over low heat. Steam until the shells open, approximately 5 minutes (some shells may not open—discard those that remain closed). Remove from heat and set aside. Heat remaining olive oil in a large pan. Sauté shrimp and scallops for approximately 1-2 minutes, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper. Arrange the cooked seafood, chicken and chorizo atop the rice mixture, stirring to partially incorporate. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees to combine flavors.

Serves 6

Ecuadoran Shrimp

For sauce:

1 large tomato

2 jalapeño peppers

1 red bell pepper

½ onion

¾ cup fresh squeezed lime juice

½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice

¼ cup canned tomato juice

1 tablespoon sugar

3 shots Tabasco sauce

salt to taste

Grill all vegetables whole over charcoal that has burned down to ash-white coals, or over medium high heat on a gas grill, turning occasionally, until the vegetable skin is blistered and charred. (In lieu of grilling, roast in oven at 400 degrees.) Remove vegetables from heat, place in a large bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Peel by scraping the charred skin off with a knife. De-seed and dice all vegetables. Purée vegetables with remaining ingredients and refrigerate.

For shrimp:

5 quarts water

1 lemon, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup Tabasco sauce

¾ cup pickling spice

3 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns

1 pound of large shrimp (approximately 16–20 count)

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons chives, chopped

¼ cup cilantro, chopped

½ cup fresh, plain unsalted popcorn

½ cup unsalted toasted or fried corn kernels (can be found in most Latin specialty markets)

In a 6-quart pot, bring the water, lemon, Worcestershire, Tabasco, pickling spice, salt and peppercorns to a boil. Decrease heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain into a clean pot using a fine mesh colander. Discard solids, then bring liquid back to a boil. Blanch shrimp for 1 minute in boiling water. Remove and cool on a tray—do not rinse under cold water.

Toss the shrimp with the chilled sauce, red onion, chives and cilantro. Serve with small bowls of popcorn and corn kernels (as is popular in Central America).

Serves 6

Tuna Watermelon Ceviche

5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

3 tablespoons Sambal Oelek (a chili paste available

at most Asian markets)

2 tablespoons lemon oil

1½ tablespoons yuzu juice (available at most Asian markets)

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon chiffonade of fresh basil (very thin ribbons)

1 tablespoon fresh chives, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoon tarragon, chopped

2 tablespoons red onion, thinly sliced

1 pound sushi grade center-cut tuna, cut into

¼-inch pieces

9 ounces fresh, seedless watermelon, cut into

¼-inch pieces

In a large bowl, whisk together the lime juice, Sambal Oelek, lemon oil, yuzu juice and salt. Fold in the herbs, red onion and chives, then gently fold in tuna and watermelon.

Serves 6

Puerto Rican Pernil (Roast Pork Shoulder)

1 bone-in pork shoulder, approximately 5-8 pounds

1 cup sour orange juice (or ½ cup each orange and lemon juice)

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

¼ cup olive oil

1 medium onion, quartered

10 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1½ cups cilantro with stems

1 large red bell pepper, de-seeded

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons dried oregano

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

2½ teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

Rinse the pork and dry well. Score the surface of the meat by cutting slits into the skin and fat. Combine remaining ingredients in a food processor and purée into a smooth paste. Pour the paste over the entire roast, spreading well to ensure complete coverage. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to cook, remove from the refrigerator and let sit for 30 minutes. Place the pork in a roasting pan and wipe excess marinade off the skin into the bottom of the pan. Add 2 cups of water and cover tightly. Bake in the lower portion of a 325-degree oven for 4-7 hours (this will depend on the size of the roast), or until the internal temperature in the shoulder’s thickest part reaches 190 degrees. Uncover the roast, and broil it 5–10 minutes, or until the skin is crispy, being careful not to burn it. Transfer to a platter and serve with Arroz Con Gandules.

Serves 6

Arroz Con Gandules

(Rice with Pigeon Peas)

For sofrito:

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper

6 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ cup crushed tomatoes

1 teaspoon cumin

1 cup cilantro with stems, chopped

1 cup parsley with stems, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and purée until smooth. After incorporating into the rice and peas below, any leftover sofrito can be refrigerated and later used as a meat marinade, in soup, or even as a topping for scrambled eggs.

For rice and peas:

3 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup sofrito (see above)

½ cup chorizo

2 cups long grain rice

3½ cups water

1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon annatto

1 can (15 ounces) pigeon peas

Heat the oil in a large dutch oven. Sauté the sofrito and the chorizo for 2-3 minutes. Add the rice, water, spices and peas, stirring well. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and cook for 35 minutes. Do not lift the lid while cooking. Stir well and serve.

Serves 6

This article originally appeared in our June 2016 issue.

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