You know you’re in a Cuban home if, when you walk in, you can smell The Smell. You know what I’m talking about – that unmistakable, mouth-watering, oh-so-inviting, my-mom-is-amazing, God-I-love-Cuban-food smell.
It all begins with a simple onion, a luscious green bell pepper and some garlic cloves – The Trifecta of Cuban Cooking Perfection.
Grab your olive oil and sauté those three until the peppers are soft and the onions are transparent, add a can of tomato sauce and you’ve got yourself a perfect “sofrito.” The sofrito is the basis of all that is good and holy in a Cuban kitchen.
The Unmistakable Smell travels upstairs and through the entire house, exactly like in those old cartoons where the smell of a fresh baked pie becomes a long, smoky arm attached to a beckoning hand, and when it reaches the unsuspecting noses of my fortunate family it leads them helplessly down to my kitchen.
“Cuban food!” they exclaim and hover around long enough for me to start giving the “set the table” orders. They comply quickly and without complaint. Cuban food is its own reward.
It doesn’t get any better than this. =D
Arroz con Salchichas
- 2 cups uncooked parboiled rice (Uncle Ben’s is best, but NOT the instant kind)
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 cup chicken broth
- Olive oil
- 2 drained cans Vienna sausage cut into 1 inch slices
- 1 med yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 med. green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 (8 oz.) tomato sauce
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 small jar diced red pimientos w/ liquid
- Bijol -just a pinch to color the rice
- 1 small can peas, drained
(NOTE: You don’t have to add salt, unless you want to. The broth and sausages usually add enough saltiness.)
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat.
2. Add the onion, garlic, and green pepper and sauté about 5 minutes or until onion is translucent.
3. Add tomato sauce, white wine, pimientos with their liquid and bay leaf and simmer together over low heat for about 10 minutes.
4. In a large stockpot, bring water and chicken broth to a rolling boil.
5. While the liquid is boiling, wash rice and drain well.
6. Color the wet rice with the Bijol powder. (you just add a pinch to quickly color the rice.)
7. Add the rice to the boiling water, stir well, and reduce heat to medium low.
8. Add the sliced sausage to the tomato mixture and stir well.
9. Add tomato mixture to the rice.
10. Continue cooking over low heat for about 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
After the rice is done, quickly add the can of peas, stirring them into the cooked rice – let it sit for a minute or two, just until the peas get hot.
Serve with maduros, galletas and ice-cold Materva. Nope, it really doesn’t get any better than this.
(previously posted on Babalú Blog.)