Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Mashed yuca, cornbread and roasted brussel sprouts

Once when I was at Molly's house for dinner she made this mashed up yuca dish. It was really good--super starchy in the best possible way. I asked her what was in it and tried to recreate it myself at home. It was pretty successful in that it tasted a lot like what she made at her house. Jeremy and Melanie both really liked it and I don't think they had ever had yuca so it's not like it's an acquired taste or anything. If you've never heard of yuca before, do a Google image search. It's really ugly--a big, long brown root. It also goes by the names cassava or manioc. It's popular mostly in Central & South American cooking and we have about a billion different varieties of it available at our DeKalb Farmers Market here in Atlanta. I'm not sure how hard it is to find otherwise--my guess is that any supermarket that serves a Hispanic population will probably sell it. Anyway, it makes an incredible side dish, read on for details:

I peeled 2 large yucas--it was easier to do than I thought it would be. They look very tough but the brown, waxy peel actually comes right off, revealing a white tuber underneath. Cut up the peeled yucas into small 1 - 2" chunks, covered them with water in a pot and brought to a boil. Let them boil for about 15 minutes, until they were quite soft. Drained them and set aside. In a large, high sided pan melted 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat then added 1 onion very thinly sliced. I mean, really thin. I basically shaved it with my knife. Let the onion cook until very soft (but not browned) in the pan, then added the cooked yuca chunks and another tablespoon of butter, salt and pepper. Began mashing up the yuca in the pan with the onion over low heat. You might find a potato masher handy for this part. I used a fork and a wooden spoon. I also added a little bit of water (maybe 1/4 cup) at one point to make it easier to mash. Yuca is starchier than potato but it will eventually fall apart. You don't need to try to make it totally smooth--some little whole pieces in the mash are a desirable textural element. Taste it to make sure there's enough salt and add more butter if it needs to be creamier. I probably used at least 4-5 tablespons all together. When it is all done being mashed, turn off the heat and add juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime. Stir very well and serve.

It seemed like a good day to make cornbread as well. Here's the absolute best way to do it: Mix up 1 ½ cups of cornmeal with ½ cup of regular flour, 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon sugar (this isn't meant to be sweet ass cornbread--I guess you could add more sugar if you wanted it sweeter). In a separate bowl, mix up 1 ¼ cups of plain yogurt with 1 egg. If you wanted to, you could use buttermilk instead. If you only have milk around the house, you could use that as well. If you add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to the milk and let it sit for 10 minutes you'll have a pretty good substitute for buttermilk. But, like I said, regular milk will do in a pinch, it just won't be as awesome. Mix your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. If you use yogurt you might need to add a little milk if the mixture seems too dry to you. I added about 1/4 cup of milk while mixing when I made this. Meanwhile, take a cast iron skillet and put 3 tablespoons of butter in the bottom. Stick it in an oven at 375 degrees until it is quite melted and all heated up. Make sure you don't burn yourself because those suckers get hot as shit. When the butter is melted all over the bottom and the skillet is hot, pour in your cornbread batter and bake for about 30 minutes. It'll get all puffy and golden and should pop right out of the skillet with a buttery bottom crust. If you don't have a cast iron skillet, just use any old pan, glass or metal or whatever. You can follow the recipe like I described and it will work fine. Then go out and buy a cast iron skillet because no matter how good that cornbread was, it will be even better if you make it in a cast iron skillet.

Because I also decided to roast a chicken, I made brussel(s?) sprouts in the bottom of the roasting pan as the chicken went along. Trimmed 1 ½ pounds of brussel sprouts--sliced the bigger ones in half and left the small ones whole, but cut an 'x' in the bottom of the stems to facilitate cooking. After the chicken had only about 15 minutes left to go I used my baster to draw out most of the juices & fat from the bottom of the roasting pan, then put the sprouts in there and tossed them around a little bit. I also added one of the heads of hardneck garlic that I had bought in Ohio--still have some of it left! I just peeled the cloves and cut them into chunks and tossed them in with the sprouts. The oven was set at about 400 degrees, I believe. I removed the chicken from the oven, stirred the sprouts & garlic around a little bit to get them evenly browned and then turned up the stove to 425 for about 5 minutes to finish the vegetables.


imnotjesus said...

they are "brussels sprouts". why? because brussels ends in a $%^&-ing 's'.

also, you can use sour cream in the cornbread instead of yogurt/buttermilk/milk, and it's yummy albeit a bit less "healthy".

carla said...

This sounds familiar...I KNOW we have had this discussion before! In fact, when I was posting this I really had to think for awhile because I couldn't remember whether it was with an 's' or not! And, amazingly, while I remembered that you had an opinion on it I did not remember which way was correct. So I did take your past advice into consideration, I just got it wrong. Brussels!

carla said...

oh, and a cup and a half of sour cream in the cornbread? yummy indeed. yummy like a heart attack. as a public health professional and my mother's daughter, I can't possibly condone it.