Prep 30 mins
Cook 1 hr 20 mins
This dish, though popular for a long time in its birthplace, the Caribbean island of Curacao (where it is called Keshy Yena in the patois of the island), was introduced to Yucatan by Dutch and German coffee men sometimes in the last century. It's foreign origins are obvious in that a Dutch Edam cheese is the main ingredient, hollowed out and stuffed with a rich pork mixture. For some reason Yucatecans almost invariably use saffron rather than achiote, which is more characteristic of their kitchen, and they usually steam rather than bake the cheese; the sauce, too, is a further Mayan enhancement. The dish looks quite spectacular when brought to the table as the cheese expands during the cooking and, when cut into wedges and served, the soft cheese shell combines deliciously with the pork filling. All that is needed as an accompaniment is a salad.
- 4 lbs edam cheese
- 6 eggs
- 2 lbs lean pork, ground
- 4 tablespoons lard or 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped or 1 use 2 canned pimiento
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 1⁄2 teaspoon oregano
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves
- fresh ground pepper
- 1⁄4 cup green olives, small, pitted
- 1⁄4 cup seedless raisin
- 1⁄4 cup capers
- 1⁄4 cup dry sherry
FOR THE SAUCE
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- the reserved pork stock
- 1⁄8 teaspoon powdered saffron or 1⁄8 teaspoon saffron thread, ground in a mortar with a pestle
- 1 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped or 1 use 2 canned pimiento, chopped
- salt, freshly ground pepper
- 1⁄4 cup green olives, small, pitted halved
- Peel the red wax covering off the cheese. Cut an inch thick slice from the top and hollow it out slightly. Scoop out the cheese, leaving a shell 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Reserve the scooped out cheese for another use. Put the shell and lid in a large bowl of cold water to cover, and soak for 1 hour. Hard boil the eggs and drop them into cold water. When they are cool enough to handle, shell them. Carefully remove the whites, leaving the yolks whole. The best way to do this is with the fingers. Finely chop the whites and set both whites and yolks aside.
- Put the pork into a saucepan with enough water to cover and salt to taste. Cover and simmer until the meat is tender, about 30 minutes. Heat the lard or vegetable oil in a skillet and sauté the onion, bell pepper, and garlic until the onion is soft. If using the pimientos, add with the tomatoes. Add the tomatoes and cook until the mixture is quite thick, about 5 minutes. Drain the pork and reserve the stock. Add the onion and tomato mixture to the pork with the oregano, cloves, salt and pepper to taste, the chopped egg whites, olives, raisins, capers, and sherry, mixing well.
- Remove the cheese shell and lid from the water, drain and pat dry. Divide the meat mixture into three parts. Put one-third of it into the cheese, patting it down firmly. Halve the egg yolks. Make a layer of 6 halved yolks on top of the meat. Spoon in another third of the meat mixture and pat down lightly. Make a layer of the remaining 6 halved egg yolks, and top with the rest of the meat mixture. Place the lid on the cheese and rub the cheese all over with lard or oil. Wrap it in a double layer of cheesecloth, then place on a rack in a steamer, and steam over boiling water for 40 minutes.
- Meanwhile prepare the sauce: Heat the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for a minute. Do not let the flour brown. Add the reserved pork stock, making up the quantity with water to 2 cups, if necessary. Add the saffron the bell pepper or pimientos, salt and pepper to taste, and the olives. Cook, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes. Pour over the cheese just before serving.
- Lift the cheese out of the steamer and remove the cheesecloth. Place the cheese on a warmed serving platter and pour the sauce over it. To serve, cut the cheese in wedges. Serves 6 to 8.
- The Book of Latin American Cooking E.L. Ortiz.