Puerto Rico has a rich culinary history influenced by France, Spain, Africa and Taíno Native American. If you’re ready to cook and eat like a local, renowned San Juan chef Jose Santaella’s new book, Cocina Tropical, is packed with vibrant and diverse dishes from around the country. From salt cod fritters to suckling pig, Cocina Tropical is a one-stop shop for the best cuisine Puerto Rico has to offer. When slow-cooking season hits, braise a pot of island-style veal stew.
- 2 pounds veal shoulder, trimmed and cut into cubes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, mashed to a paste in a mortar
- 2 cups good-quality red wine
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 cup sofrito
- 1 cup tomato paste
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 fresh culantro leaves
- freshly ground black pepper
Puerto Rican Polenta
- 3 cups milk
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
For the stew:
- In a large bowl, combine the veal, salt, oregano, 4 tablespoons of the oil, the garlic and the wine.
- Mix well, cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
- In a heavy saucepan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat; add the onion and sauté until translucent, 4 to 6 minutes.
- Add the sofrito and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add the veal with its marinade, stir well and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste, carrots, bay leaves, culantro and 2 cups water and reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
For the polenta:
- In a heavy saucepan, combine the milk, butter, salt and sugar and bring to a boil.
- Whisk in the cornmeal, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring often, until the mixture is thick yet creamy, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Serve immediately.
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