Location: Caribbean island, 150 km south of Key West
Area: Over 100,000 sq km; 106th largest in the world
Slightly smaller than Pennsylvania
Borders: Technically, the US base at Guantanamo Bay could be considered their only border
Geography: Largest country in the Caribbean
Population: Over 11 million; 74th most in the world
Physician density: Almost 6.4/1000 population; 2nd highest in the world
Source: CIA World Factbook
For a country that is so close to parts of the US, Cuba is a country that I do not know much about personally. I was, however, in that scene from Guys and Dolls. Yeah, I had a lot to learn.
The internet did not give consensus on what the national dish of Cuba was. There are different opinions out there - shocking! However, Ropa Vieja was a common dish I saw over and over. The name means "old clothes." A popular story says that a poor man could not buy food for his family. He instead gathered some old clothes, imbued them with his love, and cooked them. His love turned the dish into a "wonderful beef stew."
Research showed it to be shredded beef in a homemade barbecue sauce - sounds more delicious than clothes. There were a lot of possible recipes out there, but I ended up settling on this one. I would generally rather get things from more ethnic websites, but there were good reviews from people who claimed to be Cuban. Close enough!
The directions for this recipe are incredibly simple. After browning the meat, you throw all of the ingredients in a slow cooker for a few hours. It takes a day when you can plan ahead, but the actual prep was not time-consuming at all. I like that.
The hardest part was actually the fact that the steak was too big to brown in any of our pans effectively.
|Yeah, that's not going to stir much.|
|Everything is doing really well except for those flowers in the middle. They died super-quickly.|
|Cumin, garlic, tomato - yum!|
|Her hands were moving too quickly to get a good clear picture.|
Everyone seemed to like it, but not be overly excited for it either. It was a good, solid meal. There wasn't really any one thing that I think could have been improved. It also didn't make me want to immediately put it into our meal rotation. There may be one of those coming up, though...
Do you make homemade barbecue sauces ever? Any good ingredients you highly recommend?
Next time: Cyprus