Recipe by Manami
Ajiaco is a Cuban stew consisting of different indiginous root vegetables. It is incredibly tasty and nutritious. A native dish that symbolizes who Cubans are as a people and how diverse their ethnic backgrounds came to be formed. According to famed Cuban scholar Fernando Ortiz, the Amerindians gave us the maiz (corn), papa(potato), malanga (arum), boniato(sweet potato), yuca (cassava),and aji(pepper). The Spaniards added calabaza(pumpkin) and nabo (turnip), while the Chinese added spices. The Africans contributed name(yams). He says, that Cubans are " a mestizaje(mixture) of kitchens, a mestisaje of races, a mestisaje of cultures, a dense broth of civilization that bubbles on the stove of the Caribbean." The Cuban ajiaco retains the unique flavors of its diverse ingredients, which enrich one another. Some ingredients may dissolve completely, while others may remain more distinct. Yet all provide flavor to this hearty simmering stew, which by its very nature is always in a state of flux. The cuts of meat all have something in common aside from being "Cuban-style-cut" they are cheaper cuts, as this is the dish of the "common man." I have used many sources to come up with this recipe for you, from books published in 1925 to ones that I found on the internet. Also, used A Taste of Cuba recipe by Sonia Martinez, from El asere.com.,Ms Ramona V. Abella's "The Cuban Food Fairy", and Srta Maria Antonieta Reyes Gavilan y Moenk's "Delicias del la Mesa - Manual de Cocina y Reposteria". All you need with this dish is some good Cuban bread, a French baguette or even Foccaccia and some sliced fresh fruit, if you aren't too stuffed by this point! Cuban food is highly seasoned but never HOT! The ajiaco is/was made every Saturday(Before Castro)and was served as a noon meal which would have a longer lasting effect and in the evening they would have something light. This is very good and appetizing. Hope you will enjoy!
Top Review by Ariana F.
Made an ajiaco for the very first time. Time consuming but well worth it! Delicious and savory. Love how soft and tender the meat gets, and the root vegetables make the dish thick and hearty. This will be a personal favorite from now on!
- 5 quarts water
- 1⁄2 lb beef jerky (tasajo, found in Latin grocery stores)
- 1 lb flank steak, cubed
- 1 lb pork spareribs, separated
- 1 1⁄2 lbs chicken pieces
- 2 ears corn, cut in fourths
- 1 lb yellow taro root, peeled, cut in chunks (malanga, found in Latin grocery stores)
- 1 lb yucca root, cut in chunks (cassave, fresh or frozen)
- 1 lb sweet potato, peeled & cut in chunks (boniato, not yam)
- 1 lb fresh pumpkin, peeled & cut in chunks (calabaza)
- 1⁄2 lb white taro root, peeled & cut in chunks (name, found in Latin grocery stores)
- 1⁄2 lb grey taro root, peeled, cut in chunks (guaqui)
- 2 ripe plantains, peeled and cut in chunks
- 2 fresh limes (for soaking the green plantains) or 2 fresh sour oranges (for soaking the green plantains)
- salt, to taste
- fresh coarse ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 5 scallions, sliced in 2-inch pieces
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large green pepper, sliced in 1/2-inch strips
- 1 cup tomato puree (Glen Muir)
- 1 -2 teaspoon oregano
- 1⁄4-1⁄2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 -2 teaspoon salt, to taste
- fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 -2 whole bay leaf
Directions See How It's Made
- THE DAY BEFORE:.
- Cut the beef jerky in large pieces and soak in water to cover.
- Soak overnight.
- Now drain jerky and place in a very large and deep stockpot.
- Add the 5 quarts of water and the cut up hen or chicken.
- Boil for one hour.
- Add the flank steak and pork pieces.
- Add the spare ribs.
- Boil for one more hour.
- Remove fat and froth that will rise to top.
- While meats are cooking, make the "sofrito", peel and cut the "viandas" (vegetables).
- PREPARE SOFRITO:.
- Add all ingredients, except for seasonings, to sauté pan and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
- Then add seasonings and simmer about 5 minutes longer.
- Discard the bay leaves.
- PREPARE THE VEGETABLES:.
- When meats are tender, add the viandas, except ripe plantains and pumpkin.
- Cook about one hour more.
- Add the sofrito and cook another 20-30 minutes.
- Add the ripe plantains and pumpkin and cook 30 more minutes or until pumpkin and plantains are tender.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
- If broth is too thin, thicken by mashing some of the viandas in a little broth and adding it back to the pot.
- Serve in a large soup tureen and give each guest a large, flat rimmed soup bowl.
- You can place lime slices in little dishes along the table.
- The ajiaco tastes really good with freshly squeezed lime juice, but let each guest decide if they would like to squirt their own.
- This is so versatile, it can be served as a stew with rice and a salad of lettuce, tomatoe and cucumbers, or served with just the broth or served as is; meats and vegetables in a deep soup bowl.
- Buen Provecho!