Go Deeper

Live Arts and Fringe Cookbook: Marianela Boán

Posted June 22nd, 2010

When Marianela Boán compared the dance she led at her workshop at the Live Arts Studio to ajiaco, a traditional Cuban stew, I got hungry. So I asked Boán for her favorite recipe for the stew and she recommended this version, which comes from Pascual Perez and chef Sonia Martinez at Cocina Cubana, an online group who share recipes and perpetuate Cuban culture. I’ve simplified the original recipe for readers who don’t have a pot big enough for 10 quarts of broth and 8 lbs of meat. Bon appetit!

Click more for the recipe.

Feeds 10

Google your nearest Carribean grocery store to find many of these ingredients.

5 quarts water

½ lb tasajo (beef jerky)
1 lb flank steak, cubed
1 lb pork, cubed
1 lb pork spare ribs, separated
1 small hen, cut up and de-feathered

Viandas (Vegetables):
3 ears corn, cut in fourths
1 lbs malanga (a yellow taro, a type of yam) peeled, cut in chunks
2 green plantains (soaked in lime juice) peeled, cut in chunks
2 ripe plantains, peeled, cut in chunks
1 lb yucca (frozen or fresh) peeled, cut in chunks
1 lb Cuban boniato (sweet potato) peeled, cut in chunks
1 lb pumpkin, peeled, cut in chunks
½ lb ñame (a white taro) peeled, cut in chunks
½ lb guagui (a greyish taro) peeled, cut in chunks
2 limes for soaking green plantains

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Sofrito ingredients

10 cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 or 5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
touch of ground cumin
touch of dried oregano
about ½ cup sherry, to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste

The day before:
Cut the tasajo into large pieces and soak in enough water to cover it. Let soak overnight. Make the sofrito, the base of almost all Cuban dishes: sautee tomatoes, peppers, onion, garlic, bay leaves, cumin and oregano in oil slowly until all vegetables are limp. Add sherry and let simmer. If you add the salt, taste beforehand as you might not need it at all. Store in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed jar (will keep about one week).

Day of:
Drain the tasajo (beef jerky) and place in a large, deep stockpot. Add the 5 quarts of water and the cut up hen. 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.

Peel and cut the viandas (vegetables). When meats are tender, add the viandas, except the ripe plantains and pumpkin. Cook about one more hour.

Add the sofrito and cook another 20&endash;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 (vegetables) 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 delicious with freshly squeezed lime juice, but let each guest decide if they would like to squirt their own.

–Ellen Freeman

Photo courtesy of Marianela Boán.

Recipe courtesy of Pascual Perez and chef Sonia Martinez of Cocina Cubana.