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This Week's
FOOD & WINE TALK RECIPES by
THREE GUYS FROM MIAMI COOK CUBAN

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RECIPES
From the Book "Three Guys from Miami Cook Cuban"




Croquetas de Jamón - Ham Croquettes

Glenn: It's no secret that we love croquetas! We could easily eat croquetas every day.

Raúl: Croquetas are very popular in restaurants, walk-up counters, and bakeries all over Miami. They make a good lunch or snack. Many people even eat them for breakfast!

Jorge: Ham is the most popular, although you occasionally see chicken croquetas as well.

Glenn: Many people bake their croquetas, but take it from us, the best ones are fried.

Jorge: A good croqueta has a crispy shell and a moist middle. They are best when served immediately!

Raúl: Hey, eat them fresh and hot or don't bother eating them at all!

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely minced onion
1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk (more or less), room temperature
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
4 cups (about 1 pound) ground smoked ham
1 cup (more or less) dry bread crumbs
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 eggs beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1 cup dry bread crumbs mixed with <1/4> cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Vegetable oil for frying

Preparation: Melt the butter in a 3-quart saucepan; add the onions and sauté on medium-low heat until translucent. Gradually whisk in flour to make a roux-add more butter if necessary to make it smooth. Gradually whisk in the milk to form a smooth sauce. Continue cooking until the sauce thickens. Your sauce needs to be very thick-like wallpaper paste! Whisk in nutmeg, sherry, and parsley. Fold in the ground ham and bread crumbs. Let simmer for 5 minutes on low heat, stirring constantly. Taste and season with pepper and a little salt if necessary; the ham probably has enough salt already. Spoon the mixture into a baking dish and refrigerate until well chilled-at least 1 hour.

TIP: The mixture needs to be firm enough to form into rolls. If your mixture is too soft or sticky, add additional bread crumbs. Beat the eggs with water in a mixing bowl until frothy. Combine the bread crumbs and flour in a second bowl with salt and pepper. Shape the ham mixture into logs about <3/4> inch thick and 3 inches long. Dip the logs in the egg wash and roll the logs in the seasoned bread crumbs. Dip a second time and re-roll in bread crumbs.

IMPORTANT: Cover logs with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. (You may also freeze for later use, or use the freezer to quickly chill them.)

In a large frying pan, add enough vegetable oil to cover half the croqueta at a time. Heat the oil to the frying stage-about 360 to 375 degrees F. Sauté a few croquetas at a time in the hot oil for 3 to 4 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Immediately make loud noises, pretend someone is at the door, or otherwise endeavor to distract any bystanders. This will prevent the hungry from attacking the croquetas before they are cool enough to eat safely! Believe us, fresh croquetas have a habit of rapidly and mysteriously disappearing! Serves 6 to 8 (2 croquetas per person).


Picadillo con Papas - Picadillo with Potatoes

Jorge: Confession time: Cubans eat a lot of rice. There I said it, and I'm glad I got that off of my chest. I love my rice and I'm proud of it!

Glenn: Do Cubans ever get sick of all that rice? Not in the annals of recorded history!

Raúl: There are times when we don't have rice on the table.

Jorge: I'm thinking hurricane-the last time we ran out of rice at our house!

Glenn: However, there are a few dishes that ARE NOT served with rice. This is a nice picadillo recipe that has the starch built in, so rice is not necessary. That's right, rice is NOT necessary in this dish!

Jorge: I think I'm going to cry . . .

Ingredients:
3 cups peeled and diced potatoes
Olive oil for sautéing
2 cups chopped onion2 cups diced green pepper
2 pounds ground beef or ground round
6 small Roma tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped green olives
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup red wine
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Preparation: Sauté potatoes in olive oil until lightly brown and set aside. Sauté onion and green pepper in olive oil. Add the ground beef, chopped tomatoes, and garlic. Cook uncovered until the beef is browned, stirring frequently. Add the potatoes, green olives, vinegar, red wine, salt, and black pepper to the beef mixture. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Serve hot. Without rice. That's right-WITHOUT rice! (Would someone please pick Raúl up off of the floor?) Serves 8.

Pargo Entero Frito con Salsa de Mango - Snapper with Mango Salsa

Jorge: Pargo is the Spanish word for snapper.

Glenn: Red snapper is the most popular snapper in U.S. fish markets. You'll find this delicious fish all over the place.

Jorge: There are also other types of snapper that many remember eating in Cuba-the blue snapper in particular.

Raúl: The mangrove snapper is abundant in Florida waters and very tasty! We love to deep fat fry whole mangrove snappers the day after a successful fishing trip.

Glenn: We usually cook this fish outside in a propane-fired deep fat fryer. It may also be prepared in an electric deep fryer or in a large frying pan on the stove top. You need enough oil to completely immerse the whole fish in the oil.

Jorge: Deep fat frying produces a very tender and juicy fish with a nice crispy crust. We give this dish a true island flavor with a delicious mango salsa. Be careful not to overcook your fish-they should be tender and flaky.

Ingredients:
Several whole red, blue, or mangrove snappers, gutted and cleaned but with
heads on
Juice of 1 lime
Garlic powder
Ground cumin
Salt and pepper
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup finely chopped green onion
1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper
1 cup mashed fresh ripe mango
Juice of 1 lime
1/8 teaspoon salt to taste
Red pepper flakes
1/4 cup cubed mango
Oil for deep fat frying
Flour for dusting


Preparation: Depending on the size of the fish, make 1 to 3 deep diagonal slashes on one side of the fish with a sharp knife. Lightly sprinkle both sides of each fish with the lime juice. Season lightly with garlic powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Let fish rest for 20 minutes in refrigerator. Soft music and subdued lighting will enhance the resting process.

While the fish are enjoying their well-deserved rest, make the salsa by mixing the cilantro, green onion, green pepper, mashed mango, and lime juice in a small bowl. Add a little salt at a time and taste! Adjust the amount of salt to taste. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes for a little bite. Finally, add some cubed mango pieces for a nice presentation. Heat the oil to the proper temperature for deep fat frying-about 375 degrees F. Just before dropping in the oil, lightly dust fish on both sides with a little white flour. Cook two or three fish at a time in the hot oil until cooked through. The fish cooks fast, approximately 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the size of the fish, so don't let it get away from you! Resist the temptation to serve the salsa over the fish. Serve it on the side! Otherwise, your nice crispy fish will get real soggy, real fast! Allow 1 medium-size snapper per person. A very large fish can be served family style and sliced into serving portions at the table.

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