Monday, October 28, 2013

Cuban Arroz con Baña

Arroz con Baña is spanish for "rice with banana" or in this case rice with fried Plantains.  However, the highlight of this dish is the ground beef slowly simmered with onions, garlic, sweet potato, tomatoes, beef broth, raisins and green olives with pimiento.

Arroz con Baña is a common dish in Latin American countries.  The popular simmered ground beef with rice and bananas makes such a delicious yet simple combination that it quickly spread across South America and onto many countries around the world.  Some countries serve it with fried eggs, others use Saba bananas instead of plantains, and there is a wide variety of ways the ground beef is cooked.

This variation of the recipe includes a fried egg (optional) with rice served with fried plantains and a Cuban/Spanish variation of the ground beef.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 


2 Cups Jasmine Rice
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Yellow Onion chopped
4 Garlic Cloves minced
1 Cup Sweet Potato peeled and cut into small cubes
1 lb. Ground Beef (preferably 82% lean or higher)
Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper
1/2 Cup Beef Broth
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 Tomato chopped
10-12 Green Olives With Pimiento sliced
1/2 Cup Raisins
Vegetable Oil
2 Plantains (over ripened) sliced in half lengthwise, then cut into 2 inch long pieces
4 Eggs (optional)

In a large sauce pan bring 4 cups of water with a dash of salt to a boil.  Stir in the Jasmine rice and lower the heat of the sauce pan to a slow simmer.  Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes or until the water has been absorbed and evaporated and the rice is fully cooked.  Note: a rice cooker can be used to cook the rice if available.  Set  the cooked rice aside and keep warm.

While the rice cooks the beef portion of the dish can be started.  In a large skillet, heat the oil on high until it glistens.  Add the onions and cook until it is soft and translucent (about 4-5 minutes).  Add the garlic and stir fry into the onions until fragrant (about 1 minute).  Add the sweet potato and ground beef and stir fry until the meat is browned (about 4-5 minutes).  Season the mixture with salt and pepper.  Reduce the heat to low.  Stir in the tomatoes, the tomato past and the beef broth. Cover the skillet and let simmer for 25 minutes.

While the meat simmers, cook the plantains.  Pour vegetable oil into a small by deep saucepan - the oil should be about1.5 inches deep.  Heat the oil to about 160 degrees Fahrenheit.  Using tongs, carefully add the plantain pieces to the hot oil at two to three pieces at a time.  The plantains will sink into the oil but will float as they cook.  Once the plantain pieces begin to float flip them over with the tongs.  The plantain pieces are ready when they are golden brown on all sides (about 30 seconds after they begin to float).  Using tongs, remove the fried plantains from the oil and transfer them to a cookie cooling rack or a plate lined with paper towels to cool.  Repeat the process until all the plantains have been cooked.  Set aside.

Returning to the meat after it has simmered for 25 minutes, remove the cover.  Stir in the olives and raisins and let simmer on low uncovered for 5 more minutes.   The meat is ready. Set aside.

If serving with egss, fry the eggs last according to your preference (sunny side up, over easy or over hard).

To serve, scoop a cup of rice onto four plates.  Equally split the fried plantains among the four plates.  Scoop the meat mixture onto the plates.  If serving with eggs, place one fried egg over the rice and serve.   Enjoy.

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