If you've never had Puerto Rican food, then I have to say, you are missing out!!! It is the most flavorful, colorful, aromatic food that is absolutely amazing. My family background is, as I'm sure you can guess, from Puerto Rico, as well as from Spain, and Portuguese, as well as some other nationalities. Of course how many of us can say our families are only from one country? Not too many...that's what makes us so interesting.
I learned how to cook when I was eight years old. My mom taught me. I loved watching mom cook as a kid. I'd stand by her side asking her all kinds of questions. What is that for, why do you add that, can I taste, can I stir? Mom was patient with me, and I thoroughly am grateful that she showed me and let me make mistakes. Til this day, I love to cook and bake. I am always trying new recipes. I'm guilty of trying new things when company is coming. My mother-in-law cannot get over that...she calls me brave woman. Food should be fun to not only eat but to make. But my favorite will always be Puerto Rican food. Below you'll see the process of making homemade dried beans, then rice and after that some moist and delicious chicken. It brings back so many memories. If only you could smell the aroma in my kitchen. There is nothing like it. This is my comfort food.
Thank you mom for taking out the time to teach me, I love you so much.
The beans boil for two minutes. Then I remove it from the heat and let it sit for one hour. I pour out the water, add fresh cold water and a ham hock. I cut up an onion and smash some fresh garlic and add it to the beans. I let that boil for an hour. Then, I add sofrito. What is that you ask? It is a mixture of peppers, onions, cilantro, and garlic. You blend that in a blender until pureed, and Voila! you have sofrito. It is delicious. You add this to beans, you can rub it on meat before baking, you can add it to soups. And it lasts a very long time in your fridge. You store it in a glass jar or you can freeze it.
I add sofrito and tomato sauce along with other spices. I let this boil while I prepare the rice and chicken. Oh the aroma!!!
Now the second step, time to get the rice going. Love, Love, Love rice. This is what I grew up eating, and I still can't get enough of it. Even my husband loves rice, thank goodness!!! There are times I'll even catch him eating out of the pot when he thinks I'm not looking. So now I have to warn him not to touch the rice leftover since it's our dinner for tomorrow as well.........I saute the rice in about 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil, until it starts to turn white, then add the hot water, add salt to taste and let it come to a boil until the majority of the water evaporates, I stir it up, then add the lid and let it cook for 20 minutes. Perfect rice every time.
I love spices. I could easily collect spices, of all things, but that may not be practical unless I use them all. But I do enjoy going to kitchen stores and the grocery store to check out spices. You can be sure my food is not bland with this collection, and I still have more in my fridge. I read somewhere that you should keep red and brown spices in the fridge to keep the color and flavor fresh and that's what I do. They certainly last longer. So, now what spices do I want to use today??? HMMMMMM
The third step is to get the chicken marinated, then breaded. I use a combination of flour and breadcrumbs. If I just use flour then it gets soggy, if I just use breadcrumbs it burns, so I combine them both and you get a perfect crusted chicken. I love the color of the meat. It turns out so juicy and flavorful. It's my husbands favorite way I make chicken. Oh the aroma when this is cooking. I love the color the chicken becomes after its cooked.
So here is everything cooking on the stove, smells heavenly!!!!
The finished product below, cannot wait to dig into the food and eat!!! Finally!! The only thing missing are fried plantains and sliced avacado on the side. I forgot those today when I went grocery shopping.
Welcome To My Casa Bella
My Casa Bella- means-my beautiful home- but it can mean so many other things. How you make your home a home. The sounds of children or pets playing. The aroma of scones in the oven or a lilac candle burning. The flowers blooming in your garden. The home grown vegetables ready to be picked. Grandma's quilt at the foot of the bed. A fire to curl up to with a good book. Or just a family spending time together with love, laughter and a good time.