Nicaraguan RecipesA Taste of Nicaragua
Whether you’re surfing the Pacific Ocean, snorkeling off the Corn Islands, or strolling Granada’s Plaza de la Independencia, the land of lakes and volcanoes offers as much variety in its cuisine as it does in its scenery. Street food, seafood, churrasco, Spanish cuisine – it’s hard to decide where to start. So we’ve featured a sprinkling of favorites from the traditional Nicaraguan kitchen.
Yield: 6 servings
This classic Nicaraguan dish is typically served on a banana leaf; our favorite part is the salty crunch of the chicharrones. The best are freshly made, so check out your local Central American grocery stores. If you don’t have one in your neighborhood, order them online from 4505meats.com. Flying Pigs Farm makes a killer batch but availability is iffy, so visit flyingpigsfarm.com or stop by their stand at the Union Square Greenmarket.
Add yucca and garlic to a pan, and cover with at least 3 inches of water. Boil until yucca is tender, about 30 minutes. Strain yucca, and discard garlic. Add cabbage and tomatoes to a large bowl, and mix. Drizzle with vinegar and lemon juice, and toss until well mixed. Season with salt. To serve, divide yucca into equal individual portions, and top with cabbage mixture and chicharrones.
Yield: 6 servings
Braised meats are even better the next day, so throw this together on a Sunday and reap the benefits after a stressful Monday at the office. The sourness of the pickled veggies adds a nice kick of acid to the richness of the pork.
Pat the pork dry, and season with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons oil to a large pot on medium-high heat. Add 1/3 of pork to pan, and sear on all sides until dark brown. Remove from pan, and repeat process with rest of meat.
When all the meat has been seared and set aside, add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, onions, carrots, and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables brown, about 10 minutes. Return pork and juices to pot, and add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Cook until meat is tender, about 90 minutes.
Bring vinegar, sugar, and water to a boil in a small pot. Add shallots and jalapeños to a airtight container. Pour vinegar mixture over shallots, cover, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Add sour cream, buttermilk, and lime juice to a small bowl. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
If your little ones express interest in the kitchen, put them to work as sous chefs rinsing rice, sorting beans, and measuring ingredients. If their tastes are closer to the picky range then leave out the garlic and cilantro.
Yield: 6 servings
Add beans to a pot and cover with at least 4 inches of cold water. Soak overnight. Drain beans, discarding liquid. Return beans to pot, and cover with at least 2 inches cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender, about 45 minutes. Drain beans, reserving 2 cups liquid.
Add reserved liquid to a pot with chicken stock. Bring to a boil, and add rice. Stir for 1 minute. Cover tightly, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
Add 2 tablespoons oil to a large nonstick pan on medium heat. Add onions, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add red pepper, and cook another 6 minutes. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute. Add beans, rice, remaining tablespoon oil, lemon juice, and cilantro. Cook, stirring to combine, until warm, about 5 minutes.
A little goes a long way with this super-rich dessert best served ice-cold alongside a strong espresso. Patience is rewarded, so resist the urge to dive into it before the cake fully absorbs the milk.
Yield: 12–14 servings
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease a 9’’ x 6’’ baking pan. Add butter and sugar to a large bowl. Using a hand mixer, cream until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla, and mix.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter mixture, and beat until just combined. Scoop batter into greased baking sheet. Using a rubber spatula, even out batter in pan. Bake until lightly golden, about 25 minutes.
Add sweetened condensed milk, 4 oz heavy cream, and 4 oz evaporated milk to a bowl, and mix well.
Allow cake to cool. Using a knife, pierce a dozen slits into cake so milk mixture can seep through. Pour milk over cake, wrap tightly, and refrigerate at least 6 hours. Add remaining 12 oz heavy cream to a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon vanilla and confectioners’ sugar. Using a whisk or hand mixer, beat until firm. Wrap and refrigerate.
Add raisins and rum to a small bowl and set aside until raisins are plump, about 15 minutes. Strain raisins, chop, and reserve. To serve, sprinkle raisins over cake. Add an even layer of whipped cream, and top with toasted coconut.
Nicaragua is a mixologist’s paradise, with gorgeous, unusual fruits and excellent Flor de Caña rum. Brighten a cold day with a taste of the tropical – and toast to sunnier days.
Yield: 4 servings
Strain pulp from orange juice and discard. Pour juices, syrup, rum, and Grand Marnier into a pitcher, and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until serving. To serve, pour over four glasses with ice, and garnish with orange wedges.