Cuba Chow | WYPR

Cuba Chow

May 17, 2017

Credit Lablascovegmenu/flickr

Although it's still a little tough to get there, Cuba has captured the imaginations of a lot of Americans who want to see what life is like after Castro.  A big part of Cuban life centers on food, and already, a lot of Cuban food has spilled over into the US.  Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School has looked into this culinary exchange program and has developed some tasty Cuban recipes. 

Click on the image for recipes.

Congri or Black Beans & Rice (taken from

This recipe calls for the popular Cuban condiment "sofrito".


1 cup dried black beans

(for the sofrito)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

1 small green pepper, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

5 or 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, roughly chopped

¼ teaspoon dried dill

2 small bay leaves

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 tablespoon dry red wine

1 ½ cups long-grain rice, rinsed

Rinse the beans and pick them over for any small stones. Put the beans and 8 cups water in a medium-size pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer, partly cover and cook until tender, about 1 to 2 hours. (Time will vary depending on the bean.)

Meanwhile, make the sofrito: Put the oil in a medium-size pot (large enough to hold the rice as well) over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onion, green pepper and garlic. Add a pinch of salt and several grinds of pepper. Sauté until the vegetables are limp. Stir in the oregano, dill and bay leaves and remove from heat.

Drain the beans, reserving the broth and being careful to not break the beans. In a large measuring cup, add the vinegar and wine, 1 cup of the reserved bean broth and enough water for all the liquid to measure 2 1/4 cups.

Put the sofrito back on medium heat, add the rice and stir to combine. Cook the rice for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the seasoned bean broth/water mixture and the salt. Bring to a boil, stir, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 17 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork and return cover to pot for 10 minutes.

Remove bay leaves and put rice mixture into a mixing bowl. Gently mix in the beans, being careful not to break them. Season well with salt and pepper and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve hot.

Ropa Vieja

Taken from and certainly one of the best recipes we’ve used. This is a classic main course, similar in technique to American pulled pork.


2 pounds flank steak

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 of each large green, red and yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

⅛ teaspoon ground allspice

⅛ teaspoon ground cloves

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup dry white wine

1 cup chicken broth (chicken broth has a stronger/deeper flavor than beef broth)

1 16 ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 6 ounce can tomato paste

2 bay leaves

1 large carrot, cut in half

1 large stalk celery, cut in half

1 cup Lindsay Naturals Green Olives, rinsed and drained (you can slice them if you prefer)

½ cup thinly sliced Lindsay Roasted Red Peppers, drained

¼ cup Lindsay Pimientos, drained

2 tablespoons Lindsay Capers, rinsed and drained

⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley


Pat the beef dry and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat a little oil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Once very hot add the beef and brown generously on all sides. Transfer the beef to a plate. (Do not discard the drippings and blackened bits in the pot, they are key to the flavor.)

Add the sliced vegetables to the pot and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes until caramelized. Add the garlic and spices and cook for another minute. Add the white wine and bring it to a rapid boil, deglazing the bottom of the pan (scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan).

Add the broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and bay leaves. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Return the roast to the pot along with the pieces of carrots and celery. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 3-4 hours or until the beef is fork tender and falls apart easily. Discard the celery, carrots and bay leaves.

Transfer the beef to a plate and shred it.

Stir in the olives, roasted red peppers, capers and pimientos. Simmer uncovered to thicken the sauce for 30 minutes. Stir in the parsley and add salt and pepper to taste.


This is the very popular creamy Cuban dessert, similar to creme brulée.


1  14-oz can of sweetened condensed milk

1  12-oz can of evaporated milk

1  8-oz cream cheese bar

6 eggs

1  tsp Vanilla Extract

A dash of Cinnamon

¼  tsp salt

¾ cup sugar

In a sauce pan set over medium heat, caramelize the sugar until golden brown and then quickly pour into a 9 inch cake pan, making sure it completely covers the bottom. Let cool. In a large bowl cream the cream cheese with the back of a large slotted spoon until soft. Mix in the eggs, one at a time until well combined until adding another one. Once the mixture has become thin enough, you can switch over to a whisk. Whisk in the remaining ingredients and pour into the cake pan. Set the flan in a water bath and bake in a 350°F oven until set in the center but still slightly jiggly, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove from the water bath. Allow to cool to room temperature. Run a knife around the edge of the flan. Place a large plate over the flan and carefully invert the cake pan allowing the flan to drop onto the plate.