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Cuban Country Stew - Ajiaco Criollo     
by The Chef

Ajiaco Criollo               Serves: 8  

Notes: This is a dish for cold days, which are few and far between in Cuba, but when the palm trees are bending to the north winds this recipe is a perfect excuse for a party .

Directions:
Ajiaco Criollo is the Cuban version of the complete one-pot  meal which in other countries is known as Sancocho. This typical  country stew combines all the root vegetables grown on Cuban farms and features cuts of pork and jerked  beef, also typical of farmhouse food.

lf you are using tasajo you must first de-salt it. Cover with cold water and allow to soak for 8 hours, drain once during this time and change the water . After 8 hours, drain again and rinse under cold running water.

Place all the meats in a very large heavy pot, with the 5 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

Peel the malanga, yuca, yams, name and calabaza and cut in large chunks. Cut the corn and the plantains in 1 1/2 inch chunks. Cut a slit down the sides of the green plantains and pull off the skins. Sprinkle with the lime or lemon juice. Cut a slit down the sides of the ripe and semi-ripe plantains but do not peel.

Skim the broth and add the yuca, name, yams and malanga. Allow to cook for 15 minutes and add the plantains, both green and medium ripe, and the calabaza. Cook for 15 minutes more.

Add the corn and ripe plaintain and cook for 15 minutes more.

While the stew is simmering,  prepare the sofrito; heat the oil in a skillet over slow heat and saute the onions and garlic for about 2 minutes. Add the green pepper  and cook for about 5 minutes not allowing anything to brown . Add the tomatoes, pepper and parsley and cook for another 5 minutes.

Test each vegetable to make certain that all are well cooked . Mash a little of the calabaza and return to the pot to thicken the broth .

Serve the broth in a tureen and the meats and the vegetables in separate platters. A large cazuela (see glossary) would be perfect for presenting  this dish. Each guest makes a choice of their favorite combination, then soup, meats and vegetables are placed together in the same bowl.

Note: If jerked beef is not available you may substitute brisket.

Ingredients:

1/2 Lbs. Tasajo (Jerked beef), cut in 2 inch chunks (or ½ Lbs. brisket , in 2 inch chunks).
1 Lbs. lean pork meat, cut in 2 inch chunks.
1 Lbs. country-style pork ribs or spare ribs, cut in 2 or 3 inch pieces.
1.5 Lbs.s Malanga.
1 Lbs. Yams.
1.5 Yuca.
1 Lbs. Ñame.
1 Lbs. Calabaza.
3 Ears of Corn, husked and cut in 2-inch chunks.
2 Green plantains.
2 Tablespoons lime or lemon juice.
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil.
1 Large Onion, chopped.
1 Green pepper, chopped.
3 Garlic cloves, minced.
1 Cup chunk style tomato sauce.
1 Tablespoon parsley.
1/2 Teaspoon freshly ground pepper.
Salt to taste (if using tasajo you may not need salt)

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