Last week for Corina's birthday, we threw a party and she wanted it Cuban themed. I introduced her to Cuban food on our way to Panama a couple of years ago during a long layover in Miami. I was so excited to have Cuban that we left the terminal and looked for a Cuban restaurant near the airport. To me, Cuban food is the closest I can find to a good home cooked Panamanian meal. The flavors are so unique and different, without being spicy (hot).
It's hard for us to get Cuban food around here, so when we get a chance to go out of town, we usually “Urbanspoon” the nearest Cuban restaurant. Corina's inspiration for the birthday meal was an appetizer we ordered at Havana Rumba, a restaurant located in Louisville, KY. Surprisingly enough, this appetizer inspired eight different dishes for the party. Imagine my surprise when I heard I was cooking for 50 people. In Corina's defense it was her birthday gift. Thank goodness for other blogs and Google! Please visit La Cocina de Nathan for a great collection of Latin American dishes.
On the menu was: White Rice with Black Beans, Avocado and Pineapple Salad, Shrimp in Cuban Creole Sauce, Ropa Vieja, Munyeta (Soup), Tostones con Pollo, and Fried Ripe Plantains (my personal favorite).
The party was a great success. I have to admit that Corina is an awesome party planner. Here is the recipe for the Tostones con Pollo.
Tostones con Pollo
Tostones is a twice fried green plantain. Here is how you prepare them:
First peal the green plantain and cut into 1 inch pieces.
Fry the pieces in canola oil, just like french fries, until they are golden. Don't brown them.
After you are done pre-frying you will squish them so there are about half an inch thick and about the width of a silver dollar. There is actually a special tool for this, but I use a small wooden cutting board.
Fry them again until they are golden brown.
Assemble on a large tray by putting a layer of tostones down, covering them with Salsa Fresca, then adding a layer of baked shredded chicken and topping it with Monterey Jack cheese. Finally, stick them in an oven preheated to 325 F until the cheese is melted.
Like any other fried food, serve warm; it doesn't taste nearly as good after its been sitting out for a while.
I have a great time preparing Latin American dishes, especially when I get the chance to listen, dance and sing to some Salsa and Merenge music while I cook. I rewarded myself with a few Cuba Libre's that night, that's Rum and Coke with lime. Everybody had a great time and enjoyed the meal.
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